Council approves Hunger Strike exhibition grant

INDEPENDENT councillor Padraig McShane welcomed Moyle Council backing for a £250 Good Relations Grant towards the costs of running a touring exhibition on the Hunger Strikes.

A Council report said: ‘An application has been received from ‘North Antrim Cultural Society’ for £250 to go towards the costs of running a touring exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike.

‘The exhibition will consist of national and regional archive materials, both print and photographic, as well as contributions from the local community. There will also be a programme of discussion opportunities with invited speakers. The events will be widely publicised.’

The Council report said the application met criteria B and C of the Good Relations Grant Scheme and the recommendation was to approve a £250 grant.

At the Council meeting, Independent councillor Randal McDonnell, asked who the money was being paid to and he said he didn’t think cash should be given to ‘anonymous individuals’.

Council officer Esther Mulholland said they had the applicant’s bank details and the constitution of the group.

In recent times the Council has been conscious of data protection issues regarding revealing the names of people who contact the Council but Cllr McDonnell wanted to know why there was “secrecy”.

Cllr Oliver McMullan (Sinn Fein) told Cllr McDonnell if he wanted to know the names all he had to do was get up and walk over to Ms Mulholland.

Cllr McDonnell said he should not have to do that and councillors had the right to know who was applying for Council grants.

Cllr Padraig McShane said the Hunger Strikes exhbition was an “excellent initiative” and he wished the organisers all the best.

DUP councillor Robert McIlroy said he thought Moyle Council grants are only paid to groups in Moyle and Ms Mulholland then said the applicant is from Waterfoot and the plan is for the exhibition to go to two venues, one in Cushendall and one in Ballycastle.

Being pressed by Cllr McDonnell she then said that as the applicants did not ask for anonymity the application was in the name of Barry Murphy, the Secretary of the North Antrim Cultural Society, and the Constitution said the Chairperson was Liam O’Neill.

The recommendation was approved without a vote. There was a nationalist majority in the chamber and a number of councillors from Unionist backgrounds made no comment.