Other News In Brief

SDLP Call For New And Improved Sure Start Grant

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan has called for an improved pregnancy grant for Northern Ireland, similar to the Pregnancy and Baby Payment that was recently rolled out in Scotland.

The new package, which replaced the Sure Start grant in the region, helps low income families cover the costs of having a child.

The Foyle MLA commented: "Welcoming a new child into the world, whilst a joyful journey for many, can also be one of the most costly times in people's lives. I believe that adopting a scheme similar to Scotland's recent 'Pregnancy and Baby Payment' is the best way to support low-income families and alleviate some of the financial burden during this time.

"Whether that helps towards a pram or clothes for your baby, because it is a cash payment, each claimant can choose how they spend their money.

"Whilst we do have the Sure Start Grant here, it does not go far enough. Eligible applicants are limited to first born or for those whose youngest child is 16 or over.

"The replacement provisions made in Scotland are open to parents or carers from the 24th week of pregnancy up until the child is six months. Furthermore, an additional two payments for early learning costs could prove crucial in the key early stages of a child's life."

Applications for Scotland's new maternity provision will open next summer.

Mr Durkan added: "In the current climate, every little helps. By providing people with financial help during this critical period we can give kids the best possible start in life.
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"This is an example of how government should work, meeting the needs of local people who have elected them in the first place. Here in the North we don't have a government full stop, it is evident their vested interests lay not with the people but elsewhere."

Picture This Announced As First Act For New Belfast 2019 Festival

Picture This have been revealed as the first act lined up to play a new Belfast festival in 2019.

Live at The Botanic Gardens will be a series of outdoor concerts held in the famous city centre spot in June next year.

The Irish duo will take to the stage for two dates, on Friday 21 and Saturday 22.

Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy wowed their thousands of fans when they played Belsonic at Ormeau Park in June 2018.

The singers have just released a brand new track Everything Or Nothing, the second single to be taken from their second album MDRN LV, which is set to be released in February.

Tickets for Picture This live in Belfast go on sale on Wednesday 19 December at 9am from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

Belfast Giants Bounce Back To Secure Victory Over Manchester

In a busy weekend for the Belfast Giants, they have bounced back to beat Manchester Storm after a defeat at the hands of the Glasgow Clan on Saturday 15 December.

The team had a rocky start in Sunday's match with two goals in the first five minutes from Storm, but turned things around when David Rutherford got them on the scoreboard and a shot from Dustin Johner brought them back to level.

Adam Keefe's side took the lead 3-2 for only a few minutes until Storm scored again, but two more goals for Belfast put them up 5-3.

The Giants resisted further challenges and a fourth goal from Darcy Murphy sealed the 6-4 win.

It followed the defeat in Scotland the previous night, when their efforts weren't enough to beat the Clan.

The Giants remain top of the Elite League Standings and are set for two back-to back home games against Manchester Storm at the SSE Arena on both Friday 21 and Saturday 22 December.


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