Other News In Brief

Funding Secured For Voluntary Search And Rescue Groups

A £240,000 capital funding package has been secured for voluntary Search and Rescue groups in Northern Ireland.

The groups deliver assistance to the emergency services and directly to the community. They provide lifesaving search and rescue on inland waterways, mountains and caves. They also provide a specialist search dog facility and support civil aviation with a sky watch service.

Justice Minister Claire Sugden said: "This vital funding package of £240,000 will immediately benefit the voluntary Search and Rescue teams who, around the clock, are ready to answer calls from people in distress.

"In the first six months of this year, volunteers responded to around 250 incidents, and contributed around 10,000 operational hours. Their dedication, enthusiasm and courage is outstanding."

Concerns Raised Over Teachers Pay Dispute

Concerns have been raised over the ongoing teachers pay dispute.

Sandra Overend MLA, Ulster Unionist Education Spokesperson, said: "There is continuing concern about the ongoing teachers’ pay dispute which has now been plunged into uncertainty going into the Christmas break. With no budget being presented to the Assembly, schools have been left in a state of limbo over the Christmas period.

"I am not convinced that the Education Minister has any desire to resolve this ongoing dispute. In fact, the Minister has recently referred to the teaching dispute as a matter which has already been settled. It looks as though he is hiding his head in the sand, hoping that if he waits it out, this problem will just go away. Being in tune with the feeling on the ground, I can only conclude that the Minister is completely out of touch with reality on this issue. Ultimately it is the pupils who will suffer the most as a result of this debacle.
News Image
"The Education Minister has belittled the concerns of teachers and has sneered when I and fellow MLAs have tried to impress upon him the severity of the situation. He has also dismissed as a myth the fact that Northern Ireland teachers should have received a similar 1% pay rise as their counterparts in England in 2015/16. Teachers have been showing me payslips that clearly show that their current take home pay is lower now than it was in 2008 despite being in a position where they are doing more work and have more responsibilities. Surely this is an indication of the reality of the situation."

Call For Executive To Agree A Budget

Alliance Finance spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has warned of the impact of continued delays in agreeing an Executive Budget, saying it will impact the public and community sectors.

Dr Farry said the Executive needed to agree a Budget as a matter of urgency, as doing so had become a casualty of the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal.

He said: "Time is not a luxury the Executive has. This is not something which can wait much into the new year, let alone be dragged out almost up to the beginning of the incoming financial year.

"The publication of the Budget allows Departments to work out the detailed budget lines lying beneath the headline allocations, even before the Assembly formally adopts it. In turn, they pass on allocations to a range of arms-length bodies and also many organisations in the community and voluntary sector. These bodies include vast organisations such as the health trusts and the Education Authority.

"Already due to the UK Autumn Statement at the end of November, any notion of a draft Budget has been abandoned, so the final Budget will hit us cold. Delays have real consequences for public sector organisations and the community and voluntary sector wanting to plan ahead. For some organisations come the beginning of January, they may have to put staff on protective notice."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

25 November 2020
Up To Three Households Allowed To Mix Over Christmas
Up to three households could be allowed to mix over the Christmas period, under a set of temporary arrangements to be agreed by the Executive. First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill have signalled temporary arrangements that will be put in place between 23 and 27 December.
01 December 2020
New Support Measures For Survivors Of Historical Institutional Abuse
A range of support measures for survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse has been announced by First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.
21 April 2021
Johnny Mercer Resigns As Veterans Minister
Johnny Mercer has resigned as veterans minister, a spokesperson from Downing Street has confirmed. He is believed to have been unhappy over the treatment of veterans who served in Northern Ireland. He has been heavily involved in the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill, which is going through its final stages in Parliament.
14 April 2021
NI Women's Football Team Qualify For Euro 2022 Championships
The Northern Ireland Women's Football team has qualified for the Euro 2022 Championships. The team secured a 2-0 play-off second leg victory over Ukraine. Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey congratulated the team.
13 April 2021
Call For Funding To Fix NI's 'Appalling Waiting Lists'
Health Minister Robin Swann has called for "significant funding" to be allocated to fix Northern Ireland's "appalling waiting lists". Mr Swann detailed his ambitions for the re-building of Northern Ireland's health service, while stressing the need for sustained investment to deliver the plans.