Row over opening changing rooms in Bushmills

The official opening of new changing rooms at the Dundarave Playing Fields in Bushmills was postponed last night due to a protest by local people. The Chair of Bushmills council, independent (former SF) councillor Padraig McShane, was due to conduct the official opening of the facility. The specific objections to Cllr. McShane seem to be due to his recent attempts to twin the council with Gaza and also remarks he is said to have made about the Twelfth in Ballycastle which according to the Belfast Telegraph he called an “unsavoury event”.

From the News Letter:

The council chairman told the News Letter that the Twelfth parade in Ballycastle was harmful to community relations there. However the Parades Commission determination for the event this year praised organisers for its “dignified, orderly and peaceful manner” in years gone by and added that the commission was “pleased that their intervention in the parade is not warranted” in 2011.
Meanwhile, a meeting of Moyle council was stopped on Monday when unionist councillors expressed opposition to Mr McShane’s motion to twin the district with Gaza. Mr McShane closed the meeting for 15 minutes after facing a series of questions by unionist councillors on his proposal. Mr Graham said the council was more divided than he had ever seen it after the proposal. Despite no agreement having been reached on the matter, six officials from Gaza are expected to arrive in Moyle in October


McShane claimed that the protest had been organised by the UDA. (From the Belfast Telegraph):

“I had prior warning that a protest was to take place in Bushmills while I was to open the new changing rooms at Dundarave in the village,” he said.
“Police informed me that they had met with UDA representatives in the area who indicated that they would stop the event.
“I remain committed to representing all the people of Moyle including Bushmills and refuse to bow to the bully boy tactics of the UDA and their sidekicks.”

According to the News Letter, however:

A PSNI spokesman said that around 80 people took part in a protest, which was policed by 10 officers. He said the event passed off without incident and did not support claims from Mr McShane of paramilitary involvement in the protest.

UTV have a brief online TV report here.

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