Other News In Brief

Security Alert Ends In Belfast City Centre

A security alert in Belfast city centre has ended and been dubbed a hoax by police.

The alert was reported to PSNI over the telephone, claiming a device had been left in the Castle Street area earlier today, Tuesday 27 July.

Police found nothing during searches and are treating the incident as a hoax.

Sergeant Smith added: "Cordons have now been lifted, and I am keen to thank all those inconvenienced for their patience as we worked to ensure the area was safe."

Urgent Call For Health Committee Meeting Over Rising Covid Cases

The NI Health Committee has come under pressure to meet urgently over rising Covid-19 cases across the region.

Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew issued the call for the meeting as the new cases put a strain on local hospitals.

"I have written to officials and committee members calling for an urgent meeting of the health committee to look at this surge and slow uptake of the vaccination among younger people," he said.

"We need assurance that the Department of Health's surge plan is in place and that everything possible is being done to protect red flag procedures."

Former Irish Senator Joins UUP

Former Irish Senator Ian Marshall has joined the UUP.

Marshall, who has served as an Independent Unionist since 2018, has been welcomed to the party by leader Doug Beattie MC MLA.

"Ian Marshall is an impressive individual and I am delighted that he has decided to join the Ulster Unionist Party," Beattie said.

"Ian brings a wealth of experience from running a farm, heading up the Ulster Farmers Union and from his time elected to the Irish Seanad. As a Senator he ensured the voice of Northern Irish Unionism was heard and he tempered those who did not understand unionism in general.  

"It took real moral courage to be a lone Unionist voice, but he did so because he believed it was the right thing to do. It is that level of commitment that leads me to believe he will be a progressive voice for the future.  

"Ian will now bring his vast experience to the party and in the coming weeks and months I will look to see where he can be deployed best to advance our vision of a Union of People throughout Northern Ireland."

Ian Marshall added: "Northern Ireland is at a critical juncture with events such as Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic impacting the lives of many ordinary working people, families, pensioners, and students across the province. These challenges will demand strong leadership from people who are comfortable and secure in their identity and who believe in the principle of mutual respect and parity of esteem in an open, inclusive, progressive manner. 

"It is essential that we move from identity politics to focus on the things that are a priority for most people such as the economy, jobs, healthcare, housing, and good relationships across this island and between the two islands.  

"I see the Ulster Unionist Party under the leadership of Doug Beattie as the organisation to deliver meaningful change, working in cooperation with all partners to drive a culture where all citizens in Northern Ireland, proud of their history and heritage, can thrive and prosper and truly regard this place as home."

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