18/12/2009

Other NI News In Brief

Saving Christmas

Northern Bank is offering the perfect stocking filler for children this Christmas. Pondus, is a free moneybox which comes in a limited edition special festive gift box and is available throughout Northern Bank branches right up until Christmas Eve when opening a Junior Savings Account. Sarah McGroin (5) was one of the first children to check out Northern Bank's Pondus moneybox - a gift that will last forever and help encourage a good savings habit. Parents, grandparents, godparents and relatives can all open the account for children up to and including 10 years old.

Maternity Cares

Sinn Féin MLA and Vice Chair of the Stormont Health Committee Michelle O'Neill has expressed concern at the closure of 20 beds at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital months earlier than was expected. "The closure of these beds before they were due to close will raise concerns for new mothers and their families. The Belfast Trust have made this decision but given very little rationale for the early closure. The question is what will be put in place of these beds, and what will the staffing levels be like following the closure. This is a downgrading of services for the maternity unit," she insisted, noting that a new state-of-the-art mother and child unit is to be built on the site - yet not a penny has been allocated to the building project.

Training Failure

An official scheme to help those aged 25 and over find work had an 80% failure rate, a report by a key assembly scrutiny committee has found. Fewer than one in five participants in the New Deal 25+ scheme found employment afterwards, the Public Accounts Committee at Stormont has reported. The failure was particularly acute given the "relatively buoyant economy", the report added. The Department for Employment and Learning pledged to study the report.

City Flying Low
News Image
Aircraft flying into the proposed extended runway at George Best Belfast City Airport will approach 18 metres lower than at present, the Green Party has claimed. The party insists the airport's management is failing to fully reveal the impact of the proposed runway extension. Green Party Assembly Member Brian Wilson said: "The airport has been less than forthcoming about this matter - this information should have been on the table from the very outset."

Screen Skills Offered

Northern Ireland Screen is seeking applications for its skills development programme, Screen Skills II, which is a paid placement scheme (on minimum wage), will run for six weeks from 11 January 2010. Participants will gain experience on Northern Ireland Screen funded projects. The programme will provide training opportunities for up to 12 junior freelancers who have had at least one year's experience at runner level. Applicants will have to specify which department they wish to be considered for. Placements in the following departments will be prioritised: Production, Accounts, Art, Assistant Director, Camera, Grip, Location, Sound, Props.

Water Pollution

According to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency's (NIEA) 2008 Water Pollution Incident and Enforcement Statistics, a total of 2,244 water pollution reports were made and investigated during 2008. Of these, 1,237 reports were confirmed as having an impact on water quality. NIEA also revealed that there were 47 fewer incidents reported in 2008 than in 2007, and that the overall trend in the number of confirmed incidents reported continued a downward direction since the mid-1990s, although the available data indicates that the trend may now be levelling off. Pollution incidents are classified by Source (where the pollution originates), Category (the type of pollution identified), Cause (why the incident occurred) and Severity (the environmental impact of the pollution).

DARD Appointments

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has announced that Ian Morris and Captain Brian Majury are to be appointed to Board of the NI Fishery Harbour Authority (NIFHA). Welcoming the appointments, Fisheries Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP MLA said: "Both Ian Morris and Brian Majury have clearly demonstrated that they possess the knowledge and experience to make a valuable contribution to the work of the Harbour Authority. I wish to congratulate them on their appointment and wish them every success in their new roles," she said, also paying tribute to the two members of the board, Peter Ronaldson and Morris Walters who will be standing down as their second term of office has expired.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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