26/02/2009

Other NI News In Brief

Woman Robber Sought

A woman armed with a handgun has robbed a chemists in Comber. She forced staff at the Mill Street premises to hand over prescription drugs at about 5pm on Wednesday. The woman - who was wearing a high-visibility police jacket - made off in the direction of the Belfast Road in a white car being driven by a second person. She is described as about 5ft 9ins tall, in her 30s or 40s, of slim build, and had her hair in a pony-tail.

No 10 Meeting On Finance

NI First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were in Downing Street yesterday to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the economy. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and the Welsh minister Rhodri Morgan were also at the talks which were at Downing Street's request and come as the regions are already facing increasing financial pressure. The UK Treasury is seeing £5bn in cuts across the regions, which Northern Ireland Finance Minister Nigel Dodds has pledged to resist. The issue of funds lost by members of the Presbyterian Mutual Society after its collapse was also on the agenda.

Fresh Probe On RUC Sgt's Murder

This week, the NI Police Ombudsman had officers at the scene of the brutal murder of RUC Sergeant Joe Campbell who was shot outside Cushendall police station 32 years ago. The investigation has been reopened after a significant new line of inquiry in the murder of the Catholic police officer was identified. After the killing, a fellow RUC officer was arrested and charged with the murder of the 49-year-old father of eight, but later acquitted. Sergeant Campbell's family have maintained that there was security force involvement in the killing.

College Shuts In Armagh

Northern Ireland's Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has approved a development proposal to allow for the closure of Armagh Integrated College. The Minister said: "Armagh Integrated College opened in September 2004 following a campaign by local parents to secure a post-primary integrated school for the Armagh City area. However, the school has struggled with the challenge of sustaining pupil numbers in a region affected by a downturn in the school-going population," she continued, noting that only 60 pupils currently attend Armagh Integrated College. "I am confident that the closure of the school and their transfer to other schools is in their best educational interests."

Magherafelt Homes Improved
News Image
The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has just completed extensive modernisation works on 47 homes in Magherafelt. The properties, located at Mullaghboy Crescent, Moyola Avenue, Drumderg Cottages and Hughes Villas, have had a range of work carried out on them. This included the replacement of kitchen units, refurbishment of bathrooms and the installation of oil central heating. Electrical and plumbing services have also been upgraded along with a range of internal and external repairs and general maintenance.

Workers Get Childcare Boost

NI Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey has announced that people participating in government employment and training programmes will soon be eligible for higher levels of assistance towards childcare costs. This new initiative comes into effect from April and will be made available to lone parents and partners of certain benefit claimants participating on the Department for Employment and Learning’s Steps to Work, Training for Success and Pathways to Work Preparation programmes.

Top-Up For Coleraine 'Public Realm' Scheme

A public realm improvement scheme underway in Coleraine has received an additional financial boost of £223,000, it has been revealed. Regeneration Minister Margaret Ritchie said the extra money will allow the project to be extended to New Row, alongside the work already completed in Church Street and Kingsgate Street in the town.

Cheats Pay Penalty

Four people were convicted at Belfast Magistrates' Court this week for claiming benefits they were not entitled to. Martine Bittles (38) of Clonard Heights, Belfast was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £34 court costs for failure to declare employment while claiming Income Support totalling £1,510. Ethna Lynn (57) of Rathcoole Drive, Newtownabbey was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £25 court costs for failure to declare employment while claiming Income Support totalling £3,036. Gemma McCann (24) of Moyard Crescent, Belfast was fined £300 and ordered to pay £37 court costs for failure to declare employment while claiming Income Support and Housing Benefit totalling £4,113 and Ciaran Cahill (28) of Downfine Gardens, Belfast was given 75 hours community service and ordered to pay £22 court costs for duplicate encashment of Income Support totalling £315. All are required to repay the money wrongfully obtained to the Social Security Agency. This brings to 83 the total number of successful prosecutions this year.

(BMcC/JM)

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