BLOOMIN’ FURIOUS!

Cllr Seamus Blaney pictured at the Goat's Path.INBM4-12 245JC
Cllr Seamus Blaney pictured at the Goat's Path.INBM4-12 245JC

By Nevin Farrell

ONE of Northern Ireland’s best-known civic pride competitions - Ulster In Bloom - has come under attack from a Moyle councillor.

Bloomin’ furious Independent representative Seamus Blaney told a Moyle Council meeting it was a “bloody disgrace” that the same pair of judges took in four local locations on the one day.

Raising the thorny issue, he felt cramming in four villages for judging on the same day did not give enough time for thorough consideration of each.

But it was a case of settle petal for Cllr Blaney as the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) - which runs Ulster In Bloom - hit back saying each entry has “adequate” time spent on them by judges.

It is understood the judges go around in a pair in each location.

Every summer pairs of Ulster in Bloom judges travel around dozens of towns and villages across Northern Ireland.

They turn up unannounced and give marks on absence of litter, cleanliness and highlight floral displays and the like.

Residential gardens, churches, schools and carparks and derelict buildings are also observed.

Ulster In Bloom organisers wrote to Moyle Council to give reports on the eight areas in Moyle which were judged in 2011 - Armoy, Ballintoy, Ballycastle, Bushmills, Cushendall, Cushendun, Mosside and Waterfoot.

And the report showed that one pair of judges went to Armoy, Ballintoy, Bushmills and Mosside and said they were all judged on July 27 last year.

The report also showed that another pair of judges were in Ballycastle and Cushendall on the same date - July 27.

The same two names judged Cushendun and Waterfoot but no date was given on the report to say what date those inspections took place.

No area in Moyle was successful in the 2011 awards which had 127 entries from councils, businesses and community groups across Northern Ireland.

Regarding to the number of areas judged in one day in Moyle, Cllr Blaney said: “They must have went at a brave rate through the Moyle area - all done in one day.”

And he added it was a “bloody disgrace to do that in one day”.

Cllr Randal McDonnell (Independent) said the report showed that different judges went to various areas in Moyle.

In responde to Cllr Blaney’s comments, a NILGA spokesperson told the Times: “The horticultural judges and the co-ordination team ensure that adequate time is afforded each entry, through a combination of physical visits and supplementary information; the cases in question were not any different.

“Objective and thorough assessment, over a 34 year span, has proved a very successful recipe; we can assure you that reviews to ensure optimum outcomes are carried out regularly.

“We receive and are considerably encouraged by many, many positive comments but we will of course take cognisance of any issue raised, including on occasion, constructive criticism.”