Other News In Brief

Woman Convicted Of Benefit Fraud

A woman has been convicted for claiming £30,231 benefits she was not entitled to at Downpatrick Crown Court.

Julie Strain claimed Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support and Housing Benefit totalling £30,231 while failing to declare employment and that she was living with someone. She was given an eight month prison sentence suspended for two years.

The fraud was uncovered following an investigation by the Department for Communities.

She is also required to repay any outstanding money wrongfully obtained to the Department for Communities.

Significant Progress Made On £25m Leisure Centre In West Belfast

Significant progress is being made on a new £25 million leisure centre in west Belfast.

Construction work is continuing on the Andersonstown Leisure Centre and the final exterior drawings have been welcomed by Sinn Féin.

The development is part of Belfast City Council's £105 million 10-year programme to improve centres, programmes and services across the city.

MLA Paul Maskey said: "These facilities will improve the users' health by encouraging more people to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Sport and exercise are extremely powerful tools in helping tackle mental health problems and improving positive wellbeing.
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"Sinn Féin look forward to the opening of these top-class facilities which include a large family fun focused area of leisure water, a 25m six lane pool with 50 spectator seats, a 140-station fitness suite, a multipurpose room and a range of outdoor provision such as five-a-side pitches."

Hospital Waiting Figures Are 'Unacceptable' - SDLP

SDLP Health spokesperson and Foyle MLA, Mark H Durkan, has expressed his disappointment that a key health commitment has not been met as patients are still waiting longer than they should for a first outpatient appointment a hospital.

He made the comments after data from the Department of Health highlight that at the end of December last year, 271,553 patients were waiting for a hospital appointment with a consultant.

Mr Durkan commented: "The Department's Elective Care Plan made a commitment that no-one should wait more than one year for a first outpatient appointment. The latest set of figures are unacceptable and continue to paint a bleak picture with little sign of improvement.

"Those on hospital waiting lists continue to suffer while the two larger parties are engaged in political brinkmanship. Instability and lack of action continue to facilitate excessively long waiting lists here.

"Every week I hear from people having difficulty in accessing the healthcare they need while our health care professionals are under increased pressure working in a system close to breaking point. The lack of a Stormont Executive and oversight from a Minister is damaging for the health service."


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