Other News In Brief

Glenarm Forest Named NI's First Queen's Commonwealth Canopy Conservation Forest

Glenarm Forest has been announced as NI's first accredited Queen's Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) conservation forest, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots has announced.

Minister Poots said: "I am delighted to make this Statement in the Assembly today to announce the recent accreditation of Glenarm Forest as Northern Ireland's first QCC forest conservation project. Northern Ireland will now join a pan-Commonwealth network of sustainable conservation forests protecting our woodlands for future generations and creating a physical and lasting legacy of The Queen's leadership of the Commonwealth.

"Notably, this announcement is particularly timely with the UK hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The importance of protecting forests as a core climate mitigation action has received heightened attention and momentum globally through the COP26 pledge by more than one hundred countries to protect and restore the earth's forests."

Consultation On Mandatory Vaccination For New Healthcare Recruits

Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a public consultation on mandatory COVID-19 and flu vaccination for new recruits to the health and social care workforce in Northern Ireland.

Introducing such a measure would be a significant development that should only be undertaken after careful consideration, the Minister said.

He continued: "Vaccination is central to our efforts to support health and social care services during this extremely challenging winter and beyond. I remain convinced that persuasion is the best and most effective option when it comes to vaccination.
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"There are compelling arguments that mandatory vaccination for existing health and social care staff in Northern Ireland could be counter-productive – potentially destabilising an already fragile workforce.

"Against that, I also have great sympathy for those who only want their loved ones to be cared for by fully vaccinated staff."

The Minister continued: "All options remain under consideration. I will closely monitor the situation in England – including the impact of mandatory vaccination on staffing in its social care sector.

"Notwithstanding the challenges, I want to see progress in this area. I look to Trusts, care homes and other employers to continue making every effort to persuade staff of the benefits of both COVID-19 and flu vaccination.

"Furthermore, in announcing my intention to consult on making Covid and flu vaccination compulsory for people starting new jobs in health and social care, I want a constructive engagement.

"There is no predetermined outcome. Trade unions, employees and employers will have a key role in this consultation, but the views of the general public will also be very important."

New Assured Skills Collaborative Welding Academy Launched

A new Assured Skills Collaborative Welding Academy, with 12 training places, has been announced by Economy Minister Gordon Lyons.

Successful applicants to the Academy will receive industry standard welding training that will provide them with the skills to take up potential welding roles with one of six companies in Ballymoney, Ballymena and the surrounding area. Applications will open on Monday 15 November.

The Minister said: "I am very pleased to launch this Assured Skills Welding Academy with NRC and in collaboration with six fabrication and engineering companies in the local area.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone seeking to start, or change, career and learn skills that are in high demand. I urge anyone who is interested and eligible to apply."

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