Other News In Brief

Sinn Féin Call For 16 And 17-Year-Olds To Be Included In High Street Scheme

Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has called for the High Street Voucher should be extended to include 16 and 17-year-olds.

The chair of the economy committee: "I have called for the high street voucher scheme to include 16 and 17 year-olds.

"Young people in this age group are considered to be of working age, they have national insurance numbers, some have left education and are in full-time employment, others have caring responsibilities.

"Young people have been badly impacted by Covid, they should not have to go through the courts to access the scheme on the same terms as over 18s.

"Many young people worked in retail and other frontline services or volunteered in their local communities, and this scheme should be open to them.

"This is about getting money back into the local economy in order to support our hard-pressed high streets, local businesses and support workers and families.

"Including 16 and 17 year-olds in the high street voucher scheme will support those aims."

SDLP Call For Action On Anti-Social Behaviour In The Holylands

The SDLP has called on the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to update local residents and stakeholders on her plans to tackle anti-social behaviour in the Holyland.

Minister Hargey announced the establishment of a Strategic Partnership Group, bringing together relevant stakeholders on Holyland issues, on 16 March but as yet the group has not announced any specific actions or plans to deal with the longstanding issues bringing misery to residents.

MLA Matthew O'Toole has submitted a priority Assembly question to get answers on what action is – or isn't – being taken by the group.
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The South Belfast MLA said: "The challenges around anti-social behaviour in the Holyland are both longstanding and complex, involving multiple stakeholders from universities and landlords to the city council. It was welcome that Minister Hargey established the Strategic Partnership Group on the eve of St Patrick's Day – but that was six months ago and as yet the group has not announced any agreed actions or plans to tackle the problems residents face on a constant basis.

"Residents are entitled to know what is actually happening with this group, which was announced with fanfare before St Patrick's Day. As the new university term starts and Holyland residents gear up for further disruption, they deserve clarity from the minister on what action is being taken."

Developing Women in the Community Programme Now Open

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced that the new Developing Women in the Community Programme is now open for applications.

Minister Hargey said: "This programme will aim to equip and empower women with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become involved in transformational community development. Women's voices and participation are critical for thriving communities, and their leadership is key to a more normalised society, free from paramilitary influence.

"It will target women of all ages and will be delivered within the community, in areas which have been identified as areas in need. The programme will also provide the opportunity for participants to partake in a volunteering role within their community and to develop and deliver a small programme. Provision of Family Support will be a key element of the programme."

The Fresh Start Agreement of November 2015 sets out the Executive's commitment to tackling paramilitary activity and associated criminality and includes a commitment for the 'development of a programme to increase the participation and influence of women in community development.'

Applications are invited from areas which have been identified as those most in need.

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