30/11/2009

Other NI News In Brief

Sex Attacker Arrest Welcomed

An East Belfast MLA, Robin Newton (pictured) has praised the prompt action of the PSNI in the arrest of a 21-year-old man following an alleged rape. "Often the public are critical in the follow-up actions when a serious crime has been committed. This was a horrific crime and the very quick performance in making an arrest must be welcomed," he said, but noted that the police will still need all the help they can get from the public. "I am appealing to anyone who has information to assist the PSNI."

Airport Passenger Cap 'Ignored'

East Belfast residents say they are furious that George Best Belfast City Airport has flouted a two million cap on passengers agreed last year. They claim that the airport's own figures show that 2,335,501 passengers have already flown from the City Airport this year. "This just makes a nonsense of the Department of the Environment's attempts to regulate the airport," said Fiona McKinley, spokesperson for Belfast City Airport Watch, the umbrella group campaigning against further expansion at the airport. "Why isn't the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, taking any action on this blatant breach?" she asked, especially so as "the airport recently wrote to the Minister asking for the passenger cap to be removed altogether". Residents are also still waiting to hear the outcome of the airport's planning application for a runway extension which would enable even heavier and louder planes to use the airport.

Bishops Called To Resign Over Abuse

The opposition parties in the Irish Republic have called for the resignation of the bishops named in the report published last week, detailing the Catholic church's culture of secrecy over abusive priests. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said bishops named in the Murphy Report on the Dublin Catholic Archdiocese should resign. Mr Kenny said the report was "another appalling litany of shame" adding that apologies were not good enough and said this was a case where men protected guilty men, people in authority knew what was going on, and it was not confined to the 1950s but went on to the 1980s. Labour Senator, Ivana Bacik also called for the resignation of the bishops. See: Garda 'Deeply Sorry' Over Child Abuse

Farmer's Gore Death Recalled
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The son of a farmer who was gored to death by a bull has described finding 60-year-old John Tallon's body after he suffered horrific injuries in an attack by a Charolais bull on his farm near Lurgan. He had been refilling a livestock feeder in the field off Barton’s Bay Road when the animal set on him in June. His son Eamon told an inquest hearing in Armagh courthouse last Thursday that he had gone looking for his father when he failed to return to his home on Derrymore Road. He found his father's body lying close to the feeder in the field in which the two-year-old bull was kept along with 17 other cows and calves. "He appeared to have bad injuries to his face, his legs and his chest," he told Coroner Brian Sherrard, adding that he had frantically attempted to revive his father using CPR but he was already dead.

Quit Smoking Call

Smokers across Northern Ireland were given early warning of a major initiative to help them break free from their habit. That was the challenge set by the No Smoking Day Campaign at a regional conference to brief health professionals in preparation for No Smoking Day – Wednesday 10th March 2010. No Smoking Day provides smokers who want to quit, with the motivation and support they need to be successful. Giving up smoking usually requires much planning, encouragement and support and the day itself provides an excellent focus for many thousands of local smokers to stop, so the conference heard the No Smoking Day team encouraging health professionals to help communities kick the habit by making plans now to stop. The No Smoking Day Campaign in Northern Ireland is co-ordinated by the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

Newry Rail Station Opens

A newly built train station has been opened in Newry, following a £14.2m investment by Northern Ireland Rail. The modern facility has incorporated 300 new customer parking spaces, and will play a vital role in the Dublin to Belfast express service. Stormont Transport Minister Conor Murphy said he hoped the re-introduction of full services, in conjunction with the opening of this new station, will attract passengers back to the Enterprise service. "The line from Newry to Belfast accounts for more passenger journeys than any of the other local lines, with 3.2 million on services last year. This new facility should encourage further growth, particularly for those commuting from South Down and South Armagh," he said.

Call To Increase Dumping Fines

Fines for the illegal dumping of waste on the Irish border should reflect the cost of clean-up, a SDLP Assemblyman has said. The party's environment spokesperson John Dallat said fines should also exceed legal disposal costs if they are to act as a deterrent. Speaking after a meeting of the Assembly environment committee, Mr Dallat said: "The NI Environmental Agency reckons that a quarter of a million tonnes of waste from the south have been illegally dumped across the north. Clean-up of the first two sites with 14,000 tonnes will cost about £250 a tonne, although the Dublin authorities will pay 80% of that," he said. "However, in one recent prosecution the illegal dumper was fined just £500 plus £16 in costs for dumping 150 tonnes." Mr Dallat estimated that amounted to about £3.50 a tonne.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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