On Friday 27th August, 2010 the Ards received a visit from Eamon O'Cuiv Minister of Social Protection of the Government of Ireland.Born on 23rd June 1950 Minister O'Cuiv is a Fianna Fail politician,who has been a TD for the Galway West constituency since 1992 and has previously been a member of Seanad Eireann. O'Cuiv comes from a famed political dynasty. He is the grandson of Fianna Fail founder, first Taoiseach and third President of Ireland Eamon de Valera.He is a nephew of the former TD ,Vivion de Valera and is a first cousin of the former minister of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sile de Valera.He is the son of the great professor and scholar of the Irish language ,Brian O'Cuiv, whose study of Ulster Irish Dialects is unequalled.
Eamon O'Cuiv is widely credited with the establishment of the Official Languages Act in the Republic. He has a deep love and respect for Lesser Used Languages and as a former Irish Minister for Community ,Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has already visited two of the three Ullans or Ulster Scots speaking areas of Ulster at the Monreagh Centre in Co Donegal and the Ullans Centre in Ballymoney Co Antrim. His visit to Portavogie as a guest of the Portavogie Culture and Heritage Society completes the trio. A personal friend of North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey, Minister O'Cuiv has a unique insight into the cultural affairs of Northern Ireland.
On 3rd June 2010 Minister O'Cuiv hosted a special dinner for Lord Bannside PC and the Baroness Paisley in Farmleigh, Co Dublin during their historic visit to Dublin and an invitation was issued at that time for the Minister to visit the Ards and also to see the Somme Museum. He will therefore be received by members of the local community at 12.00 noon in Portavogie Community Centre, opened by HRH The Princess Anne (now The Princess Royal) in 1999 ,proceeding on to the Somme Museum ,Whitespots, Newtownards at 2.00pm when he was joined on his tour of the centre by children from Portavogie.
Speaking of the event Dr Ian Adamson OBE, Chairman of the Somme Association and President of the Ullans Academy said, “As a Conlig man and former Lord Mayor of Belfast,both attributes already possessed by William James Pirrie, the builder of the Titanic, I am delighted that Minister has come to our area, perhaps the most historic in Ireland, standing as we are between two of its greatest monasteries Bangor and Movilla. Eamon O'Cuiv is a great friend of Ulster,a man of tremendous foresight and integrity. His vision of a return of Ireland to the Commonwealth of Nations first mooted in 1994 and reiterated in 2007 provides us all with a hope and, indeed an expectation , that Ireland at last can settle down to a future shared equally among all her people”.