Monthly Archives: June 2016

Executive Office sees responsibilities slashed but no corresponding staff cut

Cost of NI Executive’s Brussels office near £1m THE Executive Office at Stormont has no plans to cut staff despite a significant reduction in its responsibilities. The department previously known as the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) has seen many of its functions transferred to other departments. The new Department of Communities takes on the bulk of the policy areas which would have previously been the responsibility of OFMDFM, including initiatives involving older people, young people and the disabled. It will also lead efforts to tackle poverty and have policy responsibility for gender and sexual orientation. Responsibility for Stormont’s childcare strategy has moved from OFMDFM to the Department of Education, while the Department of Finance is now responsible for NI Direct’s central editorial team and the government advertising unit. However, despite the streamlining of its operations, the Executive Office will see no reduction in its … Continue reading

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Jude Collins’ Boys Brigade remarks ‘deeply offensive’: MLA Beggs

Boys’ Brigade officer and MLA Roy Beggs is calling for Jude Collins to apologise for appearing to compare members of the Christian youth organisation to young people taking part in a dissident Republican paramilitary parade. On Tuesday, Mr Collins replied to a tweet of images of children taking part in a an illegal parade organised by Republican Sin Fein in Lurgan’s Kilwilkie estate on Saturday May 28. A number of children were pictured alongside ranks of masked men in paramilitary garb. A boy was pictured dressed in a similar style of clothing, and a young girl in her First Communion dress was also present. Responding to the image, Mr Collins posted a picture of the Boys Brigade under the caption “a bit like this then.” He then tweeted: “Why is ‘brigade’ in its title? And why do they march, military style?” “The BB is a ‘brigade’, it marches, it wears … Continue reading

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Beggs slams ‘lenient’ sentences for Northern Lights trio

An MLA is hoping for tougher sentences after a trio convicted in relation to Dunluce Street hydroponics store Northern Lights avoided jail. Jonathan, aka Jonny, McDowell, Jack, aka John McDowell, and Rory McDowell were each given a one-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months. The trio were sentenced at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court on June 2 in a prosecution brought by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Jack McDowell pleaded guilty to eight counts of failing to comply with safety regulations regarding the supply of new psychoactive substances at the Dunluce Street store between July 10 2014 and May 6 2015 . He was given a one-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months on each offence, to be served concurrently. He was also ordered to pay £49. Meanwhile, Jonathan aka Jonny McDowell pleaded guilty to three counts of the same charge between May 15 2014 and December 11 2014 and was … Continue reading

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