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Image: John McInally Earlier this month the Northern Ireland Congress of Trade Unions. held a seminar in Belfast to highlight opposition to proposed welfare cuts. Below is an edited version of a speech given at the meeting by John McInally, Vice President of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). Welfare reform, like austerity, is no more than a slick political term intended to mask what is in reality a one-sided and unremitting class war being carried by big business and the Tories against the unemployed, disabled and the low paid. Welfare reform has been on the agenda of all…

Image: Volunteer Now’s chief executive Wendy Osborne, left, with Elaine Sheridan from MindWise By Una Murphy Earlier this year VIEW reported on the blow to Volunteer Now – which supplied volunteers for last year’s World Police and Fire Games – from a massive government funding cut Following a round of redundancies the charity has marked the formation of a new enterprise to bring more funds into the organisation. Chief Executive Wendy Osborne warned that the severe 50 percent cut in core funding from the Department of Social Development had had a huge impact on the charity. “Cut too deeply and lose…

Image: Trainer Steve Andrews A new partnership between the Macular Society and Guide Dogs NI means that more people affected by macular degeneration in Northern Ireland will be given the chance to learn vital skills that can help maintain their independence. As part of their ‘Skills for Seeing’ programme the two charities have trainers available to teach techniques which help people to make the best use of their remaining vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is estimated to affect more than half a million people in the UK alone, and is the biggest cause of sight loss in the developed world.…

A host of iconic National Trust places in Northern Ireland are set to feature in Dracula Untold, one of the biggest films to be released worldwide this autumn. The Universal Pictures production of Dracula Untold, to be released on October 3, was filmed at well-known National Trust locations in Northern Ireland including the Giant’s Causeway, Mount Stewart and Divis and the Black Mountain. Familiar backdrops include the wide open spaces of Divis which hosted battle scenes and the Italian Garden at Mount Stewart which played home to the grounds of Dracula’s castle. Meanwhile it will be hard to miss the…

Portstewart Strand, the National Trust beach on the North Coast of Antrim has been ranked within the top 12 beaches in the UK by ‘Rough Guides’. This two mile stretch of beach welcomes holiday makers in their thousands throughout the year and the Northern Ireland weather isn’t an issue as the Strand’s beauty shines through in all seasons. Toby Edwards, National Trust Manager said: “We’re delighted that the Strand has been ranked in the top 12. The team here take great pride in looking after the beach, with help from local residents who have a deep connection with the Strand…

Amnesty International has called on Fiona Woolf, the newly announced chair of the government’s child sexual abuse inquiry, to investigate abuse and its alleged cover-up at Belfast’s Kincora Boys’ Home.  Today the Home Secretary announced that Fiona Woolf CBE JP will chair the inquiry announced in July. Amnesty said it will write to Fiona Woolf requesting the inclusion of Kincora within the panel’s terms of reference. Amnesty said it will also be asking Fiona Woolf to make a request to the Government that the Official Secrets Act be suspended to enable potential witnesses, such as former intelligence officers, to give evidence…

THE Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) has expressed its concerns over the OFMDFM’s Racial Equality Strategy. The organisation said it welcomed the publication of the Racial Equality Strategy document, in the wake of recent high profile racist attacks and the First Minister’s Islamophobic remarks and racist controversy. However, NICEM has expressed serious concerns about its ability to deliver racial equality in Northern Ireland, NICEM’s Executive Director, Patrick Yu, said: “The proposed strategy is much weaker than the previous Racial Equality Strategy, which expired in 2010.” He added that the consultation document “lacks accountability and governance mechanisms, detailed action plans and clear objectives…

Image:  Last year’s winner ’Patricia Lavery of Artscare with Dr Agis Tsouros of WHO Europe and Belfast Healthy Cities’ Chair Dr Bernadette Cullen (left) and Councillor Guy Spence (right) . Planners, architects, designers and artists lend me your ears! Belfast Healthy Cities wants you to know how you have tackled inequalities and supported good health through creating supportive and healthy places. If you or someone you know fits the bill get them to submit an application via this link: http://www.awards.belfasthealthycities.com Planning and regeneration moves to local government in Northern Ireland next year. So your organisation could get a chance to…

Image:  At the EU’s PEACE III Conference held at the MAC, Belfast, are Pat Colgan, Chief Executive of the SEUPB, left, actor and journalist Ivan Little; alongside Cathy White performing the ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ play created by Smashing Times Theatre Company. The play gives a fictionalised account of some of the traumatic events which took place during the ‘Troubles’. Picture: Michael Cooper. By Una Murphy The legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland has been explored through theatre, film, art and storytelling funded by the European Union’s PEACE programme. The work was showcased at The MAC in Belfast and featured…

New Charities and politics guidance launched this week by Northern Ireland’s charity regulator aims to support charities in understanding the law when engaging in campaigning and politically focused activities. Charities in Northern Ireland are uniquely placed to campaign and advocate on behalf of their beneficiaries, with many charities using the political arena to contribute to the delivery of their purposes. However, as new guidance from the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland highlights, it is vital that charities undertaking political activities abide by the law and ensure they remain politically independent. Commission Chief Executive, Frances McCandless, explained: “Campaigning can be an…

A new MS exercise class has been launched in Belfast to help local people living with the condition to get active. The class will take place at Cregagh Youth and Community Centre every Wednesday from September 10 to October 15, 2014 from 7pm – 8pm. The class has been funded by the MS Society in conjunction with Active Communities. 4000 people live with multiple sclerosis in Northern Ireland, one of the highest rates in the world. MS attacks at random and many of the symptoms are invisible to others. Symptoms vary but may include problems with balance and walking, loss of vision, pain and fatigue. This new…

Complaints about payday loan middlemen – so-called credit broking websites – have more than doubled in the last year, according to new figures. The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said it had been contacted by more than 10,000 people since January this year. In the worst cases, consumers found hundreds of pounds ‘drained’ from their bank accounts by the websites. The credit brokers have previously insisted that most customers are happy with their services. Nevertheless, one debt charity is now calling for the up-front fees they charge to be banned. The credit broking sites are designed to help people find the…

The tragic death of movie star, Robin Williams is unfortunately a reminder of the amount of people who are suffering from depression in silence, according to mental health charity Aware Defeat Depression. Whilst it is not yet confirmed, it is believed that the actor died by suicide following a battle with severe depression. Depression is a lonely illness and one which should be taken seriously as soon as the signs and symptoms are recognised. Siobhan Doherty, Chief Executive of Aware Defeat Depression, said she was extremely saddened to hear about the death of Robin Williams and has urged people to…

Image:  Judith Preston: “A few weeks ago I parked in a disabled bay at Tesco and was challenged by a complete stranger who shouted “Do you know that’s a disabled space?” even though I had my Blue Badge on display.” More than two in five people with multiple sclerosis (MS) surveyed in Northern Ireland have been challenged by the general public for parking in a disabled bay – even though they’re eligible. New research by the MS Society shows that many people with MS in Northern Ireland are being judged by complete strangers who appear to be ignorant when it…

Fancy a fundraiser with a difference? Why not sign up for the Brain Injury Matters Zip Line Event. On September 20th, 2014 we will be Zippin’ 10 fundraisers over 1000 foot across the river Lagan from a height of 500 foot reaching speeds of 40-50mph. The registration fee is £40 with any funds raised helping to provide services to individuals with an Acquired Brain Injury. There are only 10 places available, so if you want to book a place please email Eoin on eoin@braininjurymatters.org.uk

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