AS we gear up to recognise our teaching heroes at the tenth annual Blackboard Awards, we are pleased to have Woodvale Construction onboard once again as an event sponsor.
BOTANIC Councillor Gary McKeown has urged residents to 'give a tree a home’ at a free tree giveaway taking place in Ormeau Park this Saturday as part of the Belfast One Million Trees programme.
THE number of people claiming unemployment benefits across Belfast in December stood at 11,885 according to statistics released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). This represents a fall of 435 claimants on November and a fall of 3,735 on December 2020. West Belfast saw the most dramatic decrease across the city with the claimant count sitting at 3,215 which is a fall of 160 on the previous month and 1,105 on the previous year. North Belfast maintains the highest number of claimants at 3,895, this has fallen from 4,005 in November and 4,855 in December 2020. There were 2,575 claimants in South Belfast which saw a decrease of 65 claimants on the previous month and 870 on December 2020. Meanwhile, there were 2,200 claimants in East Belfast which represented a fall of 100 on November and 800 on December 2020. Across the North, we saw claimant numbers decrease for the tenth consecutive months with 41,185 people claiming unemployment benefits which represents a fall of 1,655 on November and 15,940 on December 2020. Over the 2021 calendar-year, 1,940 redundancies were proposed which is 82 per cent less than in the previous 12 months. NISRA, acting on behalf of the Department for the Economy, received confirmation that 200 redundancies occurred in December 2021. At 2,840, the annual total was 44 per cent less than in the previous year (5,030). The number of proposed and confirmed redundancies remained low in recent months. The total number of proposed collective redundancies (1,940) during 2021 is the lowest rolling twelve-month total since November 2011, while there was a 44 per cent decrease in confirmed redundancies in 2021 when compared to the previous year. The Labour Force Survey shows statistically significant quarterly changes in both the unemployment and economic inactivity rates to September-November 2021, where the unemployment rate decreased (-1.0pps) to 3.1 per cent and the economic inactivity rate increased (+1.8pps) to 27.6 per cent. Compared to the pre-pandemic levels in December-February 2020, the total number of hours worked in September-November 2021 was 1.5 per cent below, whilst the employment rate was 2.4pps below. Both the unemployment and economic inactivity rates remain above the pre-pandemic position (0.6pps and 2.0pps above, respectively).
SOUTH Belfast Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has condemned the destruction of natural habitats along the Lagan near Stranmillis Weir and called for a funded implementation plan to assist restoration.
Corrymeela Football Club have received a £300 community grant from Energia Group, parent company of energy supplier Power NI.
THE Falls Women's Centre have called on any women facing fear or threat to reach out to them for help, following the brutal murder of Ashling Murphy in Co Offaly last week.
TRIBUTES have been paid to Colin community stalwart, Sheila Adams who passed away in hospital surrounded by her family on January 12.
CONSTRUCTION on the new interpretive centre at the Roddy McCorley Club is progressing with a handover scheduled for mid-June – in time for the club’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations.
THE owner of a Glen Road dentist surgery is calling for anyone with information on a series of break-ins at the premises to come forward. Louise McGuigan took over the running of Gransha Dental when her father passed away in 2019 and has recently given birth. Last Saturday morning she was visited by the police to inform her that the surgery had been the target of another break-in, following a previous incident on December 10. Back in December, a number of iPads and dental equipment was stolen in the break-in with the surgery also being trashed. In the latest incident, the perpetrator made off with the entire contents of the safe, trashed the surgery again and left what Louise described as “menacing graffiti”.
SDLP Councillor Brian Heading has formally requested Belfast City Council not fly the Union flag to mark Prince Andrew’s birthday next month.
POLICE are appealing for the public to report vehicles being driven dangerously after they recovered a car from the Gransha area in the early hours of Sunday morning. The vehicle had driven up kerbs on the Glen Road and drove at officers in an attempt to evade police, all while other motorists were on the roads and pedestrians were in the area. In a post on social media, the PSNI said: “Luckily on this occasion nobody was seriously injured or killed but this could have been a very different story. “Death driving will not be tolerated in our local area and we would encourage residents to report any sightings of vehicles being driven dangerously to police immediately.”
SCÉALTA, the popular weekly video podcast produced by Fáilte Feirste Thair and Féile an Phobail, is joining forces with belfastmedia.com. Orignially launched as a lunchtime show on Féile FM, the series was brought into a new era with the onset of Covid in March 2020 when the legendary Joe Austin reoccupied the hot seat to interview local personalities from across West Belfast alongside friends from across the world. In under two years, the series has gathered a cult following across YouTube and various social media platforms as viewers regularly tune in each Thursday in to watch Joe chat to various personalities from current Lord Mayor of Belfast, Kate Nicholl to the world famous Frances Black and even our very own Squinter alter ego, Robin Livingstone. From next Friday, you will be able to view the previous night’s interview here on belfastmedia.com. To give you a flavour of what to expect we have selected our top five Scéalta interviews over the years.
COLIN councillor Danny Baker has called for an urgent site visit with Belfast City Council to address concerns around delays in the construction of Páirc Nua Chollann. The park which is located on the Stewartstown Road was originally scheduled to open in summer 2021 but was hit with delays and construction has stalled in recent months. Expressing his frustrations, Cllr Baker said: “A lot of hard work is put into this community from myself and our other elected representatives alongside our community partners to bring much-needed facilities into the Colin area. “It is deeply frustrating that this project is well behind schedule. It is coming up to over a year behind schedule and that just isn’t good enough. I know we have had Covid and a number of other setbacks but we were told before Halloween that we would have a soft opening of the play area which hasn’t happened. “I have been walking around and paying attention to the work that has been happening within the park and there seems to be a lack of urgency to finish it. From what I am seeing, this facility is substandard. “Our community deserves every bit of investment that it has received but this is being delivered below the standard required.” Cllr Baker added that he has been asking a lot of questions and going over every single decision that has been taken regarding the park, including the original plans. “The lay-out doesn’t feel right to me and the equipment inside the park doesn’t feel right and I am picking up on a lot of issues from just looking at it and that is concerning,” he continued.
AS Belfast councillors returned from their Christmas recess, the debate on the banning of hunting with dogs – which played out in the Assembly before Christmas – raised its head in the virtual Dome of Delight. In what was one of the most hotly debated topics of the evening, Alliance councillors Peter McReynolds and Nuala McAlister proposed that the council write to the DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots and the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Affairs to show its support for ending the practice of hunting for mammals with dogs. Proposing an amendment to the motion which would have called on the DAERA Minister to launch a public consultation on a ban on hunting, despite the public consultation that had already been carried out on the bill proposed by John Blair MLA being one of the largest in the history of the Assembly, Sinn Féin Councillor Matt Garrett said: “Sinn Féin as a party are opposed to the unnecessary infliction of cruelty to animals, but we also understand the importance for many in rural communities of traditional rural activates like hunting.
A CIVIL case for compensation in respect of allegations of waterboarding by members of the Parachute Regiment in Belfast in 1972 is due to commence at Belfast High Court today, Tuesday, with the case expected to last up to nine days.