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Deputy VIEWdigital editor Kathryn Johnston talks to Samaritans volunteer Brendan Magee, above, about the charity’s Listeners service in jails for prisoners. Brendan Magee, Prison Support Officer for the Samaritans in Coleraine, has been visiting Magilligan, a Category C prison on the North Coast, for years. Brendan said: “Samaritan volunteers from our branch used to go to the prison, where we did wing walks – going down the wings to speak to the prisoners. “This soon evolved into the idea that we could build on the work started in England and Wales, and very soon the Coleraine branch of the Samaritans…

We were delighted that Sid McDowell, chair of NIACRO, agreed to be the guest editor of the 50th issue of VIEW which examined Crime and Justice issues in Northern Ireland and further afield. By Sid McDowell, guest editor, 50th issue of VIEW Reading through previous editions of VIEW, I am struck by the increasing importance of partnerships for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors. Partnerships amongst themselves and partnerships with local and central government. It seems that, in this vindictive age of austerity, and in the face of the pressures associated with competitiveness and the requirement to demonstrate…

Above: Professor Phil Scraton Professor Phil Scraton, left, from the School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, answers questions from VIEW editor Brian Pelan about his views on prison reform in Northern Ireland Question: What should the balance be between retribution, rehabilitation and protection of the public when it comes to the purpose of prisons? Answer: These are very different objectives reflecting very different interpretations of what constitutes ‘crime’ and who we define as ‘criminals’. While it is self-evident that a crime is committed when a law is breached – something we all do – what we are focusing on is…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan A Labour Party peer in Britain has asked the Home office to unblock any legal objection so that some unaccompanied child refugees can be brought to Northern Ireland. Lord Alf Dubs said: “Because there is no Assembly at present, I have asked a Home Minister to unblock any legal objection as there are people in Northern Ireland who are willing to take some of the children who are presently stranded in Europe.” Lord Dubs was in Belfast recently to speak at the 2018 Immigration Conference at the offices of the Law Society of Northern Ireland…

Above: Little Daithí Mac Gabhann with his parents Máirtín and Seph at the race yesterday.  All images: Mal McCann Four hundred participants from all over Ireland took part in an event yesterday in west Belfast to support the campaign for organ donation The annual Gaeltacht Quarter 10km run was helped as many people turned out to support the campaign spearheaded by local hero, toddler Daithí Mac Gabhann who is 20 months old. Daithí’s story has inspired thousands and informed so many more on the importance of organ donation as he waits for a heart transplant. Runners departed from An Chultúrlann at 9.00am…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan There was a rare moment of light relief for the audience at Queen’s University, Belfast, last night, during an otherwise grim documentary about the plight of the Calais children who have been abandoned to fend for themselves in Europe. Organised by the Immigration Practitioners’ Group, Law Society of Northern Ireland, film maker Sue Clayton told how one of the refugees contacted her to say that he had made it to the best country in the world, “So, you made it to the UK,” she said. “No, I made it to Ireland,” he replied. Calais Children…

Image above: New NI Green Party leader Clare Bailey reading the latest news on austerity in the VIEW issue ‘Stories from the Frontline’ By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Clare Bailey, the new leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland has vowed to fight welfare cuts and the introduction of universal credit as part of her key aims. “I’m absolutely delighted to be selected as the new leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland. The previous leader Steven Agnew has done an excellent job in getting the party to where we are now. The first thing I will be doing…

The British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASW NI) said it was deeply concerned at the findings of a highly critical report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The report, drafted by Professor Philip Alston, highlights the UK Government’s unwillingness to acknowledge the scope and impacts of poverty, and underlines its ideologically motivated drive to strip the social security system.  BASW NI Chair, Colin Reid said: “Poverty in Northern Ireland, as throughout the UK, is widespread and deeply damaging to the life opportunities of millions of people across society. The extent of the…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan The first ever Citizens’ Assembly in Northern Ireland has called for an end to compulsory zero hour contracts in the social care system. The call for an end to zero hours contracts was one of 27 recommendations agreed by those who took part in the event which was held over two separate weekends in the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Those who took part discussed the adult social care system in Northern Ireland. The Citizens’ Assembly consisted of approximately 75 citizens selected at random to represent the Northern Ireland population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, regional spread,…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan The UN rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights today said he could not disagree with people who said the benefits system in the United kingdom was “inhuman and cruel”. Philip Alston was speaking at a press conference in London where he announced his preliminary findings on the impact of austerity, Universal Credit and food banks in the UK after his 12-day visit to a number of cities and towns, including Belfast. Mr Alston said: “A fifth of the population (14 million people) in the fifth largest economy are living in poverty. “Four million of…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan A scheme to transfer around 2,000 homes from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to housing associations has been halted after the plans were rejected by tenants. The stock transfer programme was announced in 2013 by the former Social Development DUP minister Nelson McCausland. It was described as an opportunity to provide funding for major improvement works to the homes. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), which owns around 86,500 homes, is in the grip of a severe funding shortage and has recently warned that it may have to stop investing in its stock after 2020…

A number of community/voluntary organisations have voiced their concerns about the effects of austerity in Northern Ireland to the UN rapporteur Philip Alston during his recent visit to Belfast as part of his fact-finding mission into the levels of poverty in the UK. Mary McManus, manager of the East Belfast Independent Advice Centre, said: “We refer people on a daily basis to food banks. We have families coming in to us who have no food and no heat.” Kevin Higgins from Advice NI appealed to the UN rapporteur to include in his report that the welfare mitigations package in Northern…

Above in featured image: Peter Osborne, left, Community Relations Council, at the launch of the 49th issue of VIEW at the Crescent Arts Centre, with Bill Osborne, Brian Pelan, Mary McManus, East Belfast Independent Advice Centre; Nigel McKinney, Lucy Gollogly and Amanda Doherty from Big Lottery Fund and Dr Brendan Murtagh By VIEW editor Brian Pelan The 49th issue of VIEW (print version) was recently launched at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. This edition of VIEW looked at the impact of the Building Change Trust as it comes to the end of its 10-year existence in the community/voluntary/social enterprise…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Northern Ireland Green Party MLA Clare Bailey said she is “appalled” after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that around £10.1m, which is available to Northern Ireland under the Dormant Bank and Building Societies Act 2008, is still unspent. The FOI was sent to the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland by Neil Irwin, founder of consultancy organisation niFundraising (www.nifundraising.org) which helps charities to raise money. It was also revealed that a distribution of a further £9m for Northern Ireland is anticipated over the period to 2020. A Department of Finance (DoF) spokesperson said:…

) By VIEW editor Brian Pelan The recent news report that 440 homeless people have died on streets or in temporary accommodation in the UK in the past year is truly shocking. The Detail news site in Northern Ireland have also reported that over an 11-month period 148 registered homeless people in Northern Ireland had their applications for social housing closed because they died. We have covered the issue of homelessness (https://bit.ly/2E6Pcxr) and (https://bit.ly/2El7UBJ) in Northern Ireland on two separate occasions in VIEW magazine over the last few years. It is very depressing that the situation for those without a home in…

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