Other News In Brief

Fresh Call For Full Public Inquiry Into The Covid Pandemic

Nichola Mallon has reiterated her call for a full public inquiry into the Covid pandemic.

The SDLP Deputy Leader and North Belfast Candidate Nichola Mallon said: "During the Covid pandemic unprecedented decisions were taken by all Ministers which hugely impacted on people's lives and livelihoods and vast sums of public money were spent, Northern Ireland should have its own thorough Public Inquiry into the handling of Covid.

"Listening to the families who have lost their loved ones to Covid-19 is heart-breaking. People have lost so much and no one more than those who lost their loved ones. They deserve answers.

"It's only right that we have a full public inquiry into the decisions taken during the pandemic. Northern Ireland needs to lead and examine exactly what went on here. We shouldn't simply wait for London to do the job. The SDLP has called for some time for a full public inquiry and we will press for the public inquiry in the new mandate. The public deserve full transparency and no one should fear accountability and honesty."

Alliance: Services Lottery Disproportionately Affecting Rural Communities

There can no longer be a postcode lottery of services disproportionately affecting rural communities, Alliance West Tyrone Assembly candidate Stephen Donnelly has said.

Councillor Donnelly said for too long, rural areas had suffered due to be "disconnected" physically and in other ways from services. It comes as Alliance outlined priorities around rural communities in its manifesto.

They include ensuring superfast broadband and mobile phone signal for rural communities, government policy to include rural impact analysis, accountable rural policing and rebalancing tourism in rural areas, among others.
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"Rural communities often have poor access to services which everyone else in Northern Ireland takes for granted," said Councillor Donnelly.

"That can include things such as poor phone signal or internet access, which are ever more important in the modern world of hybrid working, but also poor connectivity of roads, sporadic public transport and a postcode lottery particularly when it comes to access to health services, which then disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in our society.

"We need to put in place structures to support our rural communities, while rebalancing tourism to open up employment opportunities and creating access to essential services and strengthening connectivity of homes. It is no longer acceptable to have a better quality of life and have things be more accessible purely if you happen to live in an urban area as opposed to rural."

SF: Electricity Hike 'Another Blow For Workers And Families'

Sinn Féin's Caoimhe Archibald has branded the 33% hike in SSE Airtricity prices as 'another blow' for workers and families.

The party's economy spokesperson said: "This fresh hike in electricity prices announced by SSE Airtricity today is another blow for workers and families who are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

"People should not have to choose between eating or lighting and heating their home. It's unacceptable and they need support.

"There is £300 million sitting and ready to spend to take the pressure off people and put money in their pockets.

"Sinn Féin has a plan to give £230 to every household in the north and additional £100 to people who qualified for previous energy payments.

"From day one after this election, we will be ready to get the Executive up back and running and to work with others to get that £300 million out the door."

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