Other News In Brief | Northern Ireland News, 23/08/2021

Call For Govt To Halt Plans To Cut Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Sinn Féin has launched a position paper demanding that the government halt incoherent and ill-timed plans to cut the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

The cuts are due to begin on 07 September, and Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today said this move will impact negatively on taxi drivers.

He said: “Taxi drivers continue to be overlooked by this government.

“Although taxis can operate, many rely heavily on the international tourism, nightlife and entertainment sectors for business, and because these industries remain stifled, taxi incomes are literally non-existent or, at best, remain much lower than normal.

“Despite this, the government is insisting on ploughing ahead with unfair cuts to the PUP in just over a fortnight.

“The cuts to the PUP and the plan to transition people from the PUP to Jobseekers on 7th September must be scrapped.

“These cuts are punishing people who cannot return to work and/or whose business remains unusually quiet due to the pandemic and its associated restrictions.

“This is now a matter of urgency. There must be certainty for workers such as taxi drivers about the future of the financial supports they will receive.”

McIlveen Must Take Responsibility For General Teaching Council Shambles – SDLP

SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has said the latest revelations around the General Teaching Council (GTCNI) has only further enforced his view that the body is beyond repair.

Mr McCrossan was speaking after it was announced that up to 500 new teachers have not yet had their registrations fully processed by GTCNI.

The West Tyrone MLA said: “When the GCTNI appeared before the Education Committee in May it became clear it was riddled with dysfunction and I expressed the view then that this body is beyond repair. We have heard time and time again how it has disintegrated into a shambles.

“At that point, there were issues around child safeguarding. Today’s announcement confirms my view that they cannot perform their duties to the standard required. Key aspects of their job involve processing registrations and keeping children safe. They are not doing either efficiently or effectively.”

Call For MOT Testing Capacity To Be ‘Ramped Up’

Following the inability of customers to be able to book MOT tests, Roy Beggs MLA, member of the Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee, has continued to press the Minister and officials to ramp up MOT testing capacity or offer further MOT extensions to meet demand from customers.

East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs said: “I was shocked to be advised that no tests were available to book before the end of October. An MOT test is a service that customers pay for and an absence of an MOT can cause difficulties in getting to work, taking children to school and for local businesses. It adversely affects the rural community in particular. The DVA does not require additional public funds as it is a self-financing service, paid by drivers. If DVA cannot adequately meet the needs of local drivers or businesses, the use of the private sector must now be considered.

“I have written to Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon MLA, outlining local problems that have been brought to my attention. One such example was when one person tried to book MOTs for 3 SORNED vehicles, only to be told that no slots were available until the end of October and that it was not possible to book beyond that date.”

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