30/07/2010

Other NI News In Brief

Belfast's Litter Heroes

Children have been enjoying a flying visit from the city's very own caped crusader as he spreads his message to 'get tough on litter'. Captain Cleanup is proving the hottest ticket as he brings his roadshow to more than 500 children attending Belfast City Council's summer schemes. Councillor Ian Adamson, Chairman of the Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: "Education is a vital part of the work to help reduce litter on our streets and to change littering behaviour for the better." Superhero helpers Ben McNaught and Caitlin Miskelly are pictured with Councillor Ian Adamson and members of the Captain Cleanup roadshow.

NI Screen Praised

Member of the Assembly Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Ken Robinson MLA, has praised NI's blossoming film and television industry: "In light of news that the film and television industry has brought £22m of investment into the economy in the last year, it is clear that our image in the eyes of the world is undergoing a sea-change. I commend the work of Northern Ireland Screen to generate interest in our beautiful country, and to promote our local talent. With work underway in Belfast on the much-hyped HBO series Game of Thrones, we can look forward to building on our blossoming reputation as a top location for film and television production," he said.

Sign For 'Higgie'

The Books of Condolence for Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins will continue to be available to sign at Belfast City Hall on Saturday. Although the building is closed to the public on Saturdays, the books will be available to sign in the East lobby, with entrance via Donegall Square East (opposite the Ulster Bank). The books will also be available for signing in the main entrance of City Hall on Monday (2 August) the day of his funeral service in St Anne's Cathedral, until 5pm.

11th Night 'Hit & Run'
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A court appearance this week followed an alleged hit-and-run incident at an 'Eleventh Night' bonfire. It saw seven people, including two children, being injured when the car struck a group of people at Coolfin Street. It happened at about 1am on 12 July near Belfast City Hospital. Dean Thomas Nesbitt, 29, of Violet Street off the Falls Road, faces charges including causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving although a defence lawyer claimed a mob surrounded his car and the driver feared he would be murdered unless he drove away. Mr Nesbitt has been charged with a number of motoring offences including causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving, having no insurance and driving while disqualified. The police opposed bail on the grounds they believed there was a risk the accused would not turn up for future court appearances or would re-offend and he was remanded in custody for four weeks.

Irish Language School Boost

Stormont Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has approved four more new Irish-medium primary schools. This is despite new figures showing a third of places in the sector lay vacant during the last academic year. The Department of Education announced that the Minister had conditionally approved the establishment of four new grant-aided Irish-medium primary schools. The statistics on enrolment and empty spaces in Irish-medium schools are taken from the October 2009 School Census and were issued in response to an Assembly question from MLA Tom Elliott. Mr Elliott, the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA, criticised Ms Ruane for supporting Irish language schools while desks remain unfilled.

Nursery Places Needed

There's been a call for the number of nursery school places in east Belfast to be increased as a matter of priority. DUP MLA Lord Browne spoke in favour of a motion at the Assembly calling on Education Minister Catronia Ruane to create a comprehensive strategy to increase pre-school places. "The number of free pre-school places falls far below the level of demand, meaning that if parents can't afford to pay, their child loses out. Under the Minister’s current scheme, working families are the greatest victims," he said. "At the same time that pre-school groups in east Belfast are told there is not enough money, she is spending £88,000 on temporary accommodation alone for a new Irish Medium pre-school being created in west Belfast that has the capacity for just 26 children."

Homely Culture Praised

NI Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland, has visited an Ulster-Scots summer scheme to view first hand some of the activities that hundreds of young people take part in each summer. During the visit, which is run by Loughries Historical Society and held at Castle Garden's Primary School in Newtownards, the Minister met with children taking part in activities such as highland dance, tin whistle, bagpipe and snare drum practice. "We have a rich cultural diversity in Northern Ireland and the Ulster-Scots language, heritage and culture is an important strand in that diversity. It is part of our cultural wealth and must be recognised, respected and resourced," he said, yesterday. "This summer scheme and others like it provide a valuable resource for children, giving them access to information about their culture, heritage and language and the opportunity to learn new skills such as highland dance and tin whistle."

(BMcC/KMcA)

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