Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has condemned last night's gun attack on a PSNI officer in north Belfast.
Mr Kelly said;
"I totally condemn this gun attack on a PSNI officer in north Belfast tonight.
"It is my understanding that a police officer was shot in a drive by shooting on the Crumlin Road and that his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.
"I hope that the injured officer will make a full and speedy recovery.
"Those responsible for this attack are the same people who are attacking the local community. They have absolutely nothing to offer society and need to call a halt to these activities immediately.
"I would call on anyone with information on this incident to bring it forward to the PSNI."
Social media sometimes gets a bad press for what is displayed through that medium. In the past week it presented itself in a good and proper way. It allowed us to see the past of a group of Castlewellan friends and the way they were. It allowed them to perhaps smile and say “god – do you remember that night”, “that was some holiday” or “look at the state of us that night”. Then they laugh and shake their heads.
Those sort of fantastic memories roll out for us all at some time or another. I hope the guys in the photographs won’t mind being referred to by their affectionate name “The Romper Room Gang”. For those of you too young to remember, Romper Room was a children’s TV show many years ago.
Those guys were all great friends. One of them was, of course, Mickey McAlinden who passed away last week at an all too early age. He fought illness over the past few years with the bravery and toughness that astounded us all. A fighter to the end. His close family and friends will only ever truly know just how brave he was. The tributes to him have come from far and wide as well as from within our community.
If anyone ever marked Mickey in a match they will know he was small in physical stature. You will also know that he made up for it with quick thinking, cuteness and tigerish qualities. His presence around our club was and will be sadly missed by us all. The Executive Committee and Members wish to extend to his wife Madge and his son’s Niall and Gerard all our sincere sympathy for their loss. We also extend our sympathy to his brothers and sisters Gerry, Charlie, Rose, Rory, Patricia, Francey, Anne and the wide family circle at this time We also have in our thoughts his late twin brother James and parents Francey (Snr) and Maureen. Ar dheis de go raibh a anam dilis.
West Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has called on the DUP Education Minister, Peter Weir, to reverse the notice of withdrawal of funding for hundreds of Youth Workers right across the North.
On Friday Ms Flynn’s colleague, Fra McCann MLA, wrote to Peter Weir seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the funding withdrawal notice.
Ms Flynn said:
“Many youth groups received letters stating that funding given under the Extended Provision Youth Work programme were now being given notice of withdrawal by the Education Authority.
“My colleague, Fra McCann MLA, immediately requested a meeting with Peter Weir and Sinn Féin has been in close contact with Youth Workers to actively support them in resisting this decision.
“The DUP should roll back on this disgraceful notice of withdrawal of vital funding.
“Recently DUP minister Paul Givan withdrew funding for Irish language bursaries for disadvantaged children under the Liofa scheme.
“The DUP minister was forced to reverse that appalling decision after enormous pressure from Irish language campaigners and from Sinn Féin.
“It's important that political representatives, Youth Workers and community organisations in Belfast and right across the North keep the pressure on the DUP to reverse this disgraceful decision.
“This funding helps to support additional youth work, allowing youth organisations to employ hundreds of workers in the most socially deprived communities across the North.
“These Youth Workers carry out work which makes a huge positive difference to childrens’ lives.
“This was yet another attack by the DUP on working class children.
“Peter Weir needs to reverse the notices of withdrawal of funding and end DUP attacks on vulnerable communities.”
The Southern Health & Social Care Trust has achieved Platinum status at the recent 2016 Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey, the highest scoring level.
The Survey, which is run by Business in the Community, recognises and rewards those organisations that are going above and beyond their legal requirements to minimise their environmental impacts and better manage their resources.
Through its Sustainability Strategy 2020, the Trust promotes a proactive approach to management of its environment and aims to maximise benefits and minimise risks to clients, staff, visitors, contractors and others.
The Trust’s principal environmental objective is to promote the achievement of “Single Planet Living” in all Trust activities and across its wider sphere of influence. The concept of “Single Planet Living” is based on the principle of everyone living within their available environmental resources i.e. living a sustainable lifestyle.
Currently, in Northern Ireland, we consume resources (energy, food, materials) at a rate which would require a country three times the size of Northern Ireland to support the
on-going replenishment of those resources. If everyone on earth consumed resources at the same rate that we do then three planets would be needed to generate adequate resources to sustain our lifestyle and consumer habits.
The Trust has been able to reduce its carbon emissions through a number of initiatives over the past few years and continues to look for further opportunities to improve efficiencies and reduce its impact on the environment – releasing vital resources to improve patient care and protecting our environment at the same time.
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust is working in partnership with Power NI to educate staff, patients, visitors and contractors on how they can improve their energy efficiency at home and in the workplace. Click here to see when an Energy Roadshow is coming to your location.
To find out who else participated in the Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey and how they scored, visit www.bitcni.org.uk/planet
O'Dowd expresses shock after woman's body found
SinnFéin MLA John O'Dowd has expressed his shock after the discovery of a woman's body in Lurgan in the early hours of Friday morning.
The Upper Bann MLA said:
"The news this morning will obviously be a shock to the entire community.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time.
"I would appeal for anyone with information to bring it forward to the PSNI."
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said the DUP economy minister Simon Hamilton has bowed down to public pressure on publishing the names of the beneficiaries of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
However, he said that postponing publication until January 25th smacks of a DUP effort to frustrate proper scrutiny of the list of RHI beneficiaries.
Mr Murphy said:
“Sinn Féin has called for the names of the beneficiaries of the RHI scheme to be published immediately by the DUP economy minister.
“In the light of ongoing revelations around the DUP’s handling of the RHI scheme the public want to know are there any conflicts of interest as a result of family, business or political connections.
“Simon Hamilton has at long last bowed to public pressure and committed to releasing the names of beneficiaries.
“However, he has put back publication of the list to 25th January in what looks like an effort to avoid proper scrutiny.
“The public demands full transparency and accountability around the RHI scheme, which has been associated with allegations of corruption. An independent investigation is the best way to achieve this.
“The DUP have acted with arrogance and contempt for the public throughout the RHI debacle.
“The people now have an opportunity to have their say on the DUP’s RHI fiasco and their arrogance and disrespect for whole sections of our community.”
NI's leading pro-European organisation concerned at NI leaving the Single Market with no functioning administration
Northern Ireland's leading pro-European organisation, the European Movement in Northern Ireland (EMNI), has reacted to the developing news following the Prime Minister's Brexit speech and the collapse of the NI Executive at Stormont.
EMNI Chair Ian Parsley said:
"We are deeply concerned that the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive with no pre-existing 'Brexit Plan' will result in Northern Ireland's distinct interests not being heard as Article 50 is triggered.
"The Prime Minister's statement puts to an end the fantasy that the UK could remain in the Single Market outside the EU. This was never a realistic option, yet many senior politicians and civic voices presented it as one during the referendum campaign.
"Yet again, therefore, we see that the referendum outcome, based as it was on a hugely misleading campaign, is leading to a fundamental change in social model which will be to the detriment of public services and of business's ability to trade with our main market. Additionally, as nearly three quarters of imports to Northern Ireland come from the EU, we will see the cost of living rise."
In relation to the news that elections will take place on March 2 in Northern Ireland, Ian added:
"It is essential, therefore, that stability is returned to the Northern Ireland Executive after the election so that Ministers can challenge this folly on all our behalves."
The Deputy Chair of EMNI, Ciaran Hanna welcomed the commitment by the PM to try and keep the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK and the decision to give Parliament a vote on the final UK/EU deal.
"The last thing we need is a hard border back in Northern Ireland, so we will have to keep up the pressure during the negotiations. The collapse of the institutions shows just how irresponsible it was for the DUP to argue for Leaving the EU. Instability was the last thing we needed. Where is the plan? Businesses need to know what will happen now we're leaving the Single European Market and Customs Union."
Ciaran added there should be a referendum on the deal:
"The people should have their say on the final UK/EU deal."