Downe U3A (Seventh) Meeting held Monday 29 October 2007 in Downpatrick Cricket
The Chairman introduced the speaker, Mr Eddie McGrady MP who has South Down for 20
Eddie McGrady gave an enthralling insight into the life of an MP, the various types of
committees and meetings. He is officially the Whip for the SDLP and he highlighted the
power of the Whips in the main parties and the tactics they employ. He then took us through
the different types of committees. Many of us are best acquainted with the workings of
Westminster through the weekly “Prime Minister’s Question Time” and Mr McGrady told us
about the problems of finding a seat for that, the necessity to bob up and down to catch the
eye of the Speaker and the art in disguising the true question in supplementary questions. He
asked for the normal gift to speakers to be donated to a charity of our choice.
Downe U3A business
The Chairman gave notice of the next monthly meeting:
• Monday 26th November, 10.30am in the St Patrick’s Centre (speaker Tim Campbell
on the history and operations of the Centre)
There will be no meeting in December.
• Sheila reported that as of today there are 32 paid up members. While the numbers
are increasing she urged current members to continue the work of recruitment.
Maggie subsequently asked if each member could be given a few copies of an
information flier, which could be handed out to any potential members. Sheila also
reported on a meeting of the NI U3A, which she and William attended in Portstewart
on October 3rd.
• Marjorie provided a current statement of accounts, reporting a healthy balance of
£182. William told of an outstanding bill for £57.30 for the website, covering the next
two years. The group decided that the £10 normally given to the speaker will be given
to a cancer charity and Jenny agreed to deal with this.
• William drew attention to the Downe U3A website which is now available at
www.downeu3a.co.uk. William praised the work of Pat Devlin in setting this up and
invited members to have a look at it and to offer material.
Out and About Group
• On 9th October Paddy Killen led a walk round Loughinisland combined with
information on its people and history. Jenny expressed her thanks on behalf of those
who attended and stressed how much we had enjoyed the afternoon.
• The Whitewater microbrewery in Kilkeel has recently won a prestigious award and the
manager has provisionally agreed that he will show us around though says he is very
busy in the run up to Christmas. Sheila reported that the Newry and Mourne U3A are
interested in joining us for this trip and suggested we combine it with a visit to the
stonemasons, McConnells, in Kilkeel where the stone for the Princess Diana
memorial fountain was cut and prepared. Details of the time and place will be
announced when available, though likely to be in 2008.
• Future visits should include Friar’s Bush Graveyard in Belfast.
Try Something New Group
• Sheila reported that a chance to try indoor bowls has been arranged for 3pm on
Monday 12th November in Downpatrick Golf Club (Saul Road). Those interested
should just turn up and they will be provided with mats and bowls and shown how to
play. It was stressed that correct footwear is needed, i.e. flat soft soles such as
trainers or slippers.
• The previous meeting was held in William Devlin’s house when the topic was “The
Dead”. The November meeting will be held at 10.30 am on Monday 19th November in
Nuala Mac Aleenen’s house (15 Old Belfast Road, Downpatrick) when the topic will
be Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. Those intending to attend are asked to let Nuala
know, either on 028 4461 2503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• George reported that there will be three screenings of The Dead at QFT on 21-23rd
December at 9.20 pm.
• Nuala MacAleenan has agreed to start a Book Group (involving more popular works
than the literary groups).
• The first meeting will discuss “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson, a
crime/historical novel about the experiences of a Japanese-American fishing family
during World War II. It will be at 10.30 am on Monday 12th November in the café of
the St Patrick’s Centre.
• She proposed that the next meeting would discuss “Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara
Kingsolver, a novel told by the wife and four daughters of a fierce evangelical Baptist
missionary who took them to the Belgian Congo in 1959. She invited those interested
in buying this book to let her know at or before the next book group meeting (12th
Nov.). She can order copies from Amazon, getting the free postage benefit and
having them available for the next full meeting on 26th November.
• It is proposed that this arrangement will be continued with the group deciding two
meetings in advance with the opportunity to bulk buy and read the books.
Murder Mystery Group
• Maddie Stewart has made an exciting offer to host murder mystery events, initially in
her home with participants each providing a contribution to a supper afterwards.
Maddie was unable to attend but Adrienne reported that she intends writing lines for
each of the intended participants. Maddie offered two possible dates – 24th
November or 12th January and the group agreed that 12th January would give Maddie
more time to prepare.
• We already have at least 9 names put forward; it looks as if this will be a popular
“runner”. At the next meeting you will be asked to provide firmer commitments to
• The group congratulated Maddie in absentia on the forthcoming publication of her
latest book. Sheila passed on an invitation from Maddie to all Downe U3A members
to attend the book launch party on 23rd November at 7.30 to 9pm at her house (27
Coney Island, Ardglass, BT30 7UQ). The house is about ¾ mile outside Ardglass,
fronting the beach and the only grey brick, flat roofed house with big windows.
• It had been hoped to organise a trip to a performance of Macbeth in the Crumlin
Road Jail but unfortunately this is booked out.
• George offered to arrange some trips to Drama and/or Opera in the New Year.
• Adrienne suggesting that a trip to the theatre might be combined with a talk from one
of the production group and George thought he could arrange this.
• George previously offered to provide classes in popular French and Italian language
and culture and to date 14 members have intimated an interest. George said that he
would need premises with access to DVDs etc and the Library or Town Hall were
both suggested. George undertook to provide a date for beginning these classes at
the November meeting.
• William reported that he had “persuaded” Dennis Cahill to provide some classes in
beginner’s bridge. Dennis said that he preferred to have at least 20 participants so
that a real competition could be held. At least 10 of the members present were
interested in this and Denis agreed to include us in the next beginners’ sessions he
organises, either with or without non-members. It was thought that the Cricket Club
would be a suitable venue.
• George reminded members of a showing of “The Birds” in Downpatrick Town Hall on
Friday 30th November at 8pm and “The Mummy” (Down County Museum, 7.30pm,
Tuesday 30th October) and “Nosferatu” (DCM, 9.30pm, Wednesday, 31st October).
• The last two of these are outdoor projections and anyone thinking of attending was
warned to take the necessities to keep the cold at bay and something to sit on.
• The floor was invited to suggest speakers for meetings in the New Year.
• Jenny proposed Yvette Shapiro and agreed to invite her to talk to members at the
• George indicated he would ask Rosa Solinas to give a preview of the Opera Fringe.
• Sheila L-C suggested someone to talk about the proposed Mourne National Park.
The name of Harvey Vickers was suggested.
• Maggie subsequently suggested Ronnie Buchanan, whose contact details she can
Annual General Meeting
• The AGM was held after the meeting. The current Committee had been elected for
an introductory 6 months so that at this AGM there could be a chance to elect new or
additional committee members and office bearers. At the September meeting
members were invited to nominate new committee members but only two, existing
committee members, Sheila Magee (Secretary) and Marjorie Ringland (Treasurer)
were nominated, both by William Devlin.
• The possibility was raised of asking the present committee to continue for a further
period but William pointed out that this would be unconstitutional. Terence supported
this view and pointed out that the constitution required nominations in advance. Legal
advice was obtained from Adrienne to the effect that it could be put to the floor that
nominations could be accepted at the meeting. This was done and the motion
• The following were elected:
Sheila Magee - nominated by William Devlin, seconded by Nuala MacAleenan
Majorie Ringland - nominated by William Devlin, seconded by Maggie Thomas
William Devlin -nominated by Elizabeth Rea, seconded by Maggie Thomas
Nuala McAleenan - nominated by Elizabeth Rea, seconded by William Devlin
Colette Sheridan - nominated by Jenny Coburn, seconded by Nuala MacAleenan
Paddy Killen - nominated by Nuala McAleenan, seconded by Elizabeth Rea
George Fleeton - nominated by Pearl Robinson, seconded by Jenny Coburn
Adrienne Macartney - nominated by Elizabeth Rea, seconded by Nuala MacAleenan
• There was discussion about whether the office bearers should be nominated by the
committee or by the floor. Adrienne was of the opinion that it would be a more
satisfactory long-term solution for the committee to elect the office bearers and this
Summary of dates:
Monday 12th November, 10.30 am in St Patrick’s Centre, Book Group,
including orders for the next book
Monday 12th November, 3pm in Downpatrick Golf Club, Taster of Indoor
Monday 19th November, 10.30am in Nuala’s house, Literary Group
Friday 23rd November, 7.30-9pm, Maddie’s book launch party
Monday 26th November, monthly meeting, 10.30am in St Patrick’s Centre
Friday 30th November, 8pm: “The Birds”
Saturday 12th January, Murder Mystery night
Secretary, Downe U3A, (028 4461 3160)