02/08/2018

Other News In Brief

Stormont Deadlock Blocking £150m Ultra-Fast Broadband Investment

Concerns have been raised whether a £150 million investment in Ultra-Fast Broadband for Northern Ireland will go ahead.

The multi-million pound investment package forms part of the DUP-Tory Confidence and Supply arrangement.

However, following a meeting with communications regulator OFCOM in Belfast this morning, SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty said the it appears the investment might not go ahead due to the political deadlock at Stormont.

"Much has been made of the confidence and supply arrangement between the DUP and the Tories," Mr McNulty said.

"They have pledged £150million for Ultra-Fast Broadband and there are large geographical areas, particularly in rural and border communities anxiously waiting for this investment. Business growth is stifled and residents are frustrated by the lack of progress on this issue.

"Earlier this year the Civil Service announced it was consulting political parties on how to implement this investment but it now appears that this much needed investment will fall victim to an inactive Stormont. With no Executive and no Minister in place this project is going nowhere fast."

Mr McNulty added OFCOM figures show that 63,000 homes and businesses across Northern Ireland do not receive 10 Mbps.

"This single investment in broadband infrastructure over two years would have eclipsed all the investment made here in the last ten years so it could make a really positive difference to thousands of people's businesses and lives," he said.

"I have written to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of the Economy, to seek urgent clarity."

Gildernew To Take Part In Breastival Belfast

Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew is taking part in the Breastival Belfast 2018 on Saturday to encourage the normalisation of Breastfeeding.

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MP commented: "I am delighted to have been asked to sit on the political panel during the Breastival Belfast celebration this year.
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"The island of Ireland has the lowest rate of breastfeeding in the EU, so there is a clear need to promote the many significant health and social benefits from breastfeeding that exist for a mother and her child.

"Research by the Public Health Agency shows that even though half of all new mums in the North opt for breastfeeding, many quickly stop because they feel there is a lack of support, especially when feeding babies outside the home."

Political Stalemate Is Potentially Blocking Th Roll-Out Of Medicinal Cannabis Products - UUP

An Ulster Unionist Councillor with MS has slammed the cruelty of the continuing political stalemate at Stormont for potentially blocking the roll-out of new life-changing medicinal cannabis products.

Following last week's announcement that new cannabis-derived products were to be legalised in England, the situation remains unclear for patients in Northern Ireland as the rescheduling of such products is a devolved matter and has been confirmed to require legislative change.

Fermanagh and Omagh Councillor Victor Warrington said: "As an MS sufferer, this is one of the conditions that could benefit from of taking cannabis based treatments. It has been well tested, trialled and re-trialled so the medicinal capabilities, such as helping to alleviate several of the symptoms related to MS, are irrefutable. MS is known as the invisible disease with a huge amount of people affected with vision problems, tingling and numbness, pains and spasm, weakness or fatigue, balance problems or dizziness, bladder issues and cognitive problems.

"I was fortunate to have received what I considered to be a revolutionary new treatment in 2015 which has helped with my condition but if these new medical products were available, and my GP thought it would be of benefit to me, I for one would be content to explore them.

"No doubt the recent high profile case of Billy Caldwell has helped the UK Government reach this decision, but shamefully, it looks likely that the ongoing impasse at Stormont and the politicking of Sinn Fein and the DUP is going to get in the way of it being rolled out across Northern Ireland."

(CD)

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