30/06/2009

Other NI News In Brief

McGuinness For No 10

Despite confusion yesterday, it has emerged that the Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (pictured) will after all, be meeting the Prime Minister at Downing Street today. Mr McGuinness said yesterday he would travel to London with First Minister Peter Robinson, but a DUP spokesman said they had "no record of the meeting" and a spokeswoman for the PM also said nothing had been scheduled. However, Mr McGuinness will now travel to London alone and meet Gordon Brown to discuss policing and justice. It will be the second time he has met with Mr Brown in the last fortnight.

PSNI To Quiz Murder Suspect

The police have been allowed permission to question the dentist accused of murdering his wife and ex-lover's husband. Following searches of land at Colin Howell's luxury Casterock home during which a nearby lake was probed on Monday, a spokesman said: "Searches are being carried out as part of an ongoing police investigation into serious crime. These searches using specialist resources are concentrated on land and a lake in the grounds of a private house at Castlerock." The detectives investigating the Coleraine dentist have since been given permission to question the murder suspect for three days about other alleged offences.

M2 Congestion Shifted

The upgrade of the M2 has reduced delays at Sandyknowes but increased congestion closer to Belfast city centre at peak times. The details were revealed by NI Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy. He told the Assembly the improvements meant traffic was being "delivered much more quickly to the Nelson Street off slip and York Street junction." The Minister said the Roads Service has now plans to provide major improvements to the York Street area as he indicated the Nelson Street/York Street area is now a 'choke point'.

Autism Tackled

An action plan that will deliver significant improvements in services for people of all ages affected by autism, their families and carers has been launched. The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Strategic Action Plan (2008/9 to 2010/11) follows an independent review of ASD services which was chaired by Lord Maginnis. Launching the Action Plan, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "From the outset I have been committed to improving care for those affected by autism. The need has been clear. This Action Plan will drive up improvements in the service for the benefit of all those affected by autism, their families and carers."

Pharmacy Programme Is Tops
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'Building the Community Pharmacy Partnership', a programme initiated by the Department of Health, has been honoured with a national award. The programme aims to promote and support local communities to work in partnership with community pharmacists to address local health and social wellbeing needs using a community development approach. The accolade was in recognition of a partnership between the community, voluntary and pharmacy sectors designed to support and empower people to manage health and wellbeing.

TB Strategy In Focus

The Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew has this week met with representatives of her department's TB Wider Stakeholder Group. The meeting with members of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Ulster Wildlife Trust and the National Trust, provided an opportunity to brief the organisations and to discuss the progress to date on the TB Strategy. Speaking afterwards the Minister said: "Bovine TB is a complex disease and, despite the considerable progress which has been made, it continues to be one of the most challenging and costly animal health problems we are facing. The TB Strategy represents a phased approach based on proportionality, sound science and economic affordability."

Relief Of Derry

Those behind the Maiden City Festival have breathed a sigh of relief after the First Minister's office offered them £40,000 to help keep their celebrations afloat. The Apprentice Boys were told about the money for the festival - which has at its core the Relief of Derry celebrations on August 12 - by the community relations unit. First Minister Peter Robinson welcomed the commitment to the annual event: "The Maiden City Festival is an excellent example of the good work which the Loyal Orders are engaged in," he said. "This event aims to encourage greater community involvement and wider understanding of the culture and traditions of Protestants in the North West."

Roads Minister Outlines Derry Projects

Over £21.5m is to be spent improving Derry's roads this year, the Transport Minister has said. Meeting with the city council, Conor Murphy announced works to dual 6.75km of the A2 between Maydown to City of Derry Airport had commenced. The contract was recently awarded to Lagan Construction Ltd. It is thought the scheme will take 18 months to complete.Mr Murphy also welcomed the recent selection of the preferred routes for the A6 dualling, Derry to Dungiven and the Buncrana Road widening scheme. The Minister said this year's increased allocation for structural maintenance would allow a larger number of resurfacing schemes to proceed on local roads.

(BMcC/JM)

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