Other News In Brief

DUP Urged To 'Get Back To Work' Following Latest Energy Price Hike

Sinn Féin has issued another call for the DUP to "get back to work" and form an Executive to deal with the cost-of-living crisis as Power NI announced the latest energy price hike.

The party's economy spokesperson, Caoimhe Archibald, said: "The announcement of another 27.5% hike in PowerNI prices is yet another huge blow for people and will only add to the pressure they are facing.

"Workers and families are struggling. They need our help now, and we need an Executive up and running now to put £420 million in their pockets and deal with the cost-of-living crisis.

"The DUP need to stop blocking the formation of an Executive, so we can give people that help right away.

"The do-nothing approach of the British government must stop and they should increase taxes on big energy companies who are making a fortune from ordinary people now."

SDLP Calls For Support For Irish Language March

The SDLP has called for support of an Irish language march due to take place in Belfast on Saturday 21 May.

An Dream Dearg are organising the march calling for the British government and Stormont to ensure that the Irish language commitments in New Decade, New Approach are delivered upon.

Mr Doherty said the march was an opportunity to send a clear message that language rights were long-overdue and must be introduced as soon as possible.

The march will begin at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich at 1pm and travel to Belfast City Hall.

Urging support for the march, West Belfast representative Paul Doherty said: "I'm looking forward to joining with thousands of Irish language activists from right across the North and further afield on Saturday to send a clear message that we must see Irish language legislation introduced as soon as possible. A cultural package for language rights was agreed over two years ago as part of New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) and we have waited far too long already to see this become a reality.
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"I have been continually inspired by the strength and determination of our Irish language community and their crusade to see rights delivered, the SDLP has always stood with them despite a number of unfair roadblocks being placed in their way. The Irish language poses no threat to anybody and it's deeply regrettable that others have tried to weaponise it or use it to score cheap political points.

"It's fitting that this march is starting in West Belfast, a community where the Irish language thrives and plays a huge part in our everyday lives. From our Irish-language medium schools, the local GAA and sports clubs, our language classes for people of all ages and abilities and our Irish language community groups, West Belfast is one of the heartlands of the language in the North.

"The DUP signed up to this legislation at NDNA, and when they failed to live up to their agreement the British government promised to introduce it at Westminster. There can be no further delays, the Irish language community just want to be treated with equality and respect and they cannot be denied any longer."

Alliance Party 'Extremely Disappointed' By Ulster Bank Closures

The Alliance Party has said that it is "extremely disappointed" at Ulster Bank's decision to close nine branches across NI.

The premises in Holywood, Warrenpoint, Dunmurry, Antrim, Ballymoney, Larne, Comber, Maghera and Clogher will start to close in September and October. It follows Danske Bank announcing four branches will also close later this year.

Economy spokesperson Stewart Dickson, said: "I am severely disappointed at this decision by Ulster Bank.

"By closing, the bank will be depriving people of a vital resource. An ATM machine, no matter how convenient it is, is not an adequate replacement for on-site professional support for Ulster Bank users. We are faced with a cost of living crisis, and when so many people are enduring various financial issues they require good, sound financial advice from their banks.

"I am particularly concerned for people in rural areas who will now have to travel further for bank services and may not have reliable broadband or mobile connectivity to move payments entirely digitally. I will be seeking a meeting with Ulster Bank to encourage them to reconsider this decision or at least provide a plan for a higher degree of support for their customers."

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