29/01/2010

Other NI News In Brief

BMA Staff Applauded

Staff in the British Medical Association (BMA) NI office have proved their ongoing commitment to providing an excellent service to members. The team has been awarded the Mark of Excellence by the NI Centre for Competitiveness, under the requirements of the Business Excellence Model. Danny Lambe, Secretary, said: "I am delighted that the BMA(NI) team has been presented with this award. It reflects the amount of hard work that is undertaken on a daily basis to ensure that the BMA remains an effective trade union in Northern Ireland." Also commenting, the Chairman of the BMA's NI Council Dr Paul Darragh said: "Any member of the BMA who has had contact with the staff is well aware of their dedication and ongoing commitment to provide an excellent service. "I am delighted that their professionalism has been recognised by an outside body with the award of this prestigious title."

Kinahan On The Roads

Danny Kinahan, Ulster Unionist South Antrim MLA, and member of the Assembly Committee for Regional Development, has said that the Roads Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, discussed in its second stage this week is a "chance to improve management of our roads and replace paper studies with common sense". While welcoming the delegation to councils of limited powers to close roads, Mr Kinahan said they were but a "pathetic morsel" of what should be made available. "A few more powers, concerning on-street and off-street parking, are to be delegated to councils, but we have not properly considered what we should pass to councils," he said, noting that the Department needs to address issues relating to road openings raised by the Public Accounts Committee last year.

Help Farmers
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SDLP Agriculture Spokesperson Patsy McGlone has asked the Stormont Agriculture Minister to consider the early payment of the Less Favoured Area Compensatory Payments in a bid to lighten the burden on farmers still feeling the pinch of a harsh winter. Mr McGlone also believes the new application process of the farm Modernisation Scheme should be rolled out as soon as possible to help further ease financial pressures on local farms. Mr McGlone, whose Mid-Ulster constituency is widely rural, said the farming community needs help from DARD. "I have asked for the early payment of the Less Favoured payments as I believe the farming community - after enduring a wet summer - had to further cope with freezing temperatures and prolonged snow lie during December and January, resulting in increased expense and hardship during a difficult economic period.

Benefits Fraudsters Caught

Six people were convicted at Belfast Magistrates' Court and one at Belfast Crown Court this week for claiming benefits they were not entitled to. The first was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court to 175 hours community service for failure to declare employment while claiming Income Support and Housing Benefit totalling £21,143. The second was given 75 hours community service over 12 months and ordered to pay £22 court costs for duplicate encashment of benefit cheques totalling £250 and another was fined £400 and ordered to pay £40 court costs for failure to declare employment while claiming Housing Benefit and Incapacity Benefit totalling £1,515. All six are also required to repay the money they wrongfully obtained to the Social Security Agency. Another person was fined £300 and ordered to pay £68 court costs for failure to declare savings while claiming Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit totalling £6,746. A compensation order of £6,035.30 was granted. This brings to 42 the total number of such successful prosecutions this year.

Immigrants Held

Three people, originally from Ukraine, have been arrested for working illegally in Co Fermanagh. A man and two women were arrested in Derrylin after officers checked their entitlement to work in the UK. A UK Border Agency statement said that all three were in possession of forged or counterfeit documents.

(BMcC/GK)

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