I closed my last message to you with a quotation about hope. On this occasion I think it is appropriate to start in a spirit of relief and thankfulness.
I have been in touch with Committee and other members throughout the lock-down and I have not been made aware of any of our Members being severely affected by the dreaded virus. I certainly hope that this is the case and if so, we have a lot to be thankful for. We should also be grateful for the wonderful spell of weather which lifted our spirits and made the whole experience more bearable. Indeed, I would go as far as to say, that once I got over the initial frustration I found ‘prison’ life to be quite relaxing and enjoyable.
As we were unable to hold a meeting I consulted with Committee by email, telephone and text and I now want to bring you up to date on several matters.
Outlook for Holding Rallies
Our ability to hold rallies is controlled by the Northern Ireland Coronavirus Regulations which can be viewed at www.nidirect.gov.uk/coronavirus
Family and Community activity is currently at Step 2 of the Executive’s Recovery Plan. Step 3 allows gatherings of 30 people, but we will not be able to hold any type of rally until we reach Step 4 or even Step 5.
It is extremely unlikely that we will be able to hold rallies where we have full social interaction (e.g. Saturday night dance) this calendar year.
The fact that we hold 85% of our rallies in schools is also a major complication as they could not reasonably give us access to buildings.
That said some schools are willing to allow us to use their parking area where we would have access to fresh water and toilet emptying facilities. Julie, our Rally Officer, is also looking at other potential venues where we could meet. It would not be the type of rally we have been used too but it would allow Members to arrive with and park beside their friends.
We are keeping a close eye on the situation and if we get the ‘green light’ we will issue rally details by Text and a news item on the website.
The 2020 A.G.M. and the Election of the 20/21 Committee
It is highly likely that the 2020 AGM will have to be postponed. If so, it will be re-arranged as soon as possible, taking account of the lead-in period to allow for nominations to Committee and the availability of a suitable venue. The existing Committee will remain in post until such time as the postponed meeting takes place.
The following Committee members have declared that they will be seeking re-election to the 20/21 Committee: David Gilmore, Gary Little, Julie Irwin, Enda Carolan, Joe McClune, Selma McMullan, Martin Murphy, Evelyn Pirie, and Norman Willis.
Joe Little, George Craig, and Ben Robinson will not be seeking re-election.
Members should be aware that a new Chair will have to be elected as the Group would not be allowed to function without one.
The Honorary President’s 3-year term of office is due to end at the 2020 AGM and I am pleased to say that Dessie Ross has agreed to remain in post until the postponed meeting is held.
Rally Attendance Points
The financial situation of the Group has been under regular review and it has long been recognised that we could not continue to incur a deficit year on year.
Something needed to be done and at a meeting held on 14 March, Committee decided to stop awarding points for rally attendance with effect from 31 July 2020.
Whilst the fees for most rallies will remain the same at £15 for 2-nights the removal of the attendance points equates to an increase of £1.50.
A full explanation of how this policy will be implemented will be given at a Member’s Meeting at the earliest opportunity.
Some time ago we were made aware that our existing website would not be technically supported in the medium term and so it was decided that a new website should be developed.
During the ‘lockdown’, David Gilmore who fulfils the roles of Vice-Chair, Secretary and Webmaster, put his skills to use for the benefit of our Group and developed a much simpler and easy to use website that meets all our needs.
The new site will be launched in July under the existing www.mccni.com address and you will be notified by text in advance.
There has been a considerable financial saving in both the development and annual hosting costs and all credit for this rightly goes to David Gilmore.
We are currently exploring options for a card payment system which will hopefully enable contactless payment of rally fees, pre-payment for functions by telephone etc.
There is a cost associated with this but with the demise of the cheque book and social distancing we believe the time is now right to introduce it.
Finally, I want to send our best wishes to all our members. Stay safe and hopefully we will meet again before too long.
1 July 2020