Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Robinson and McGuinness set out budget position to Chancellor

First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Rt Hon. George Osborne MP today.

First Minister Peter D. Robinson said: "In what was a very useful meeting with the Chancellor we again reiterated the need for the UK government to substantively support our efforts to grow the private sector here.

"The Coalition Government in Westminster is already on the record saying that it wants to rebalance the local economy. We will continue to press them to deliver the sort of support that will make that happen, we need more than words."

Mr McGuinness said: "We also took the opportunity to emphasis if there were huge cuts to the block grant there would be an almost immediate impact on the wider economy. Less local spending power would have an inevitable knock-on effect for the private sector. Rebalancing the economy would be even more difficult and that is why the coalition must be careful not to make a bad situation worse.

"Government contracts currently support more than 40% of the construction industry – we have had record levels of spending on infrastructure since devolution, double the amount spent under direct rule."

Notes to editors:

All media enquiries to OFMDFM Press Office on 028 9037 8082. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Empey expresses sympathy over student death

Sir Reg Empey, the Employment and Learning Minister has expressed his sympathies over the death of University of Ulster student Fergal McCaughan from Ballycastle.

The Minister said: "It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Fergal McCaughan, a First Year student at the University of Ulster Jordanstown, at the weekend.

"I offer my deepest sympathy to Fergal's family, his friends and fellow students. A young person's death is always a sad time and this more so as Fergal had only started his University career. As a parent myself, I hope and pray that Fergal's family will find strength to overcome the tragedy and be able to remember him in happier circumstances.

"I am glad that students can receive help and advice from the Health Centre Staff on the Jordanstown campus. I trust that all possible methods to prevent any further incident have been taken. I urge any student at UUJ who is worried to talk to the relevant staff as soon as possible."

Notes to Editors:

1. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Employment and Learning Communications Branch on 028 9025 7872. Out of office hours contact the Executive Information Service Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 44.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Culture Minister welcomes NI Commonwealth Games Council's decision

Minister for Sport in Northern Ireland, Nelson McCausland said: "I welcome the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council's decision to take their team to the Games in Dehli.  Competing in sport at such a high level is a great achievement and I send my best wishes to all Northern Ireland's athletes.  I have no doubt that the commitment and drive of these athletes will be apparent when they are competing in their chosen field."
Notes to editors:

Media queries to DCAL Press Office on 028 90515047. Out of hours contact pager 07699715440 and your call will be returned.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Empey promotes Northern Ireland's multi-skilled workforce in New York

Employment Minister, Sir Reg Empey, has begun a week-long visit to New York aimed at highlighting Northern Ireland's multi-skilled workforce.

The Minister, who will be meeting some of the top US business people, said: "Over the recent past, Northern Ireland colleges, universities, businesses and government departments have worked tirelessly to build a cutting edge workforce.  Our message for the major US investors remains that Northern Ireland is open for business.  We have a world class pool of talented people who are ready, willing and able to take on the challenges that future investment will bring.

"Our task remains to win investment.  This will improve our economic competitiveness and create opportunities which will leave a lasting skills legacy for our workforce."

Sir Reg will begin his visit as a specially invited guest at the exclusive Irish America Magazine 'Wall Street 50 - 2010' event.  The event honours the top 50 Irish Americans in the financial services industry each year and past speakers have included Senator John McCain, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and An Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

The Minister will then join world leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative Sixth annual meeting.  The Clinton Global Initiative's Annual Meeting brings together heads of state, government and business leaders, scholars, and NGO directors. Participants analyse pressing global challenges, discuss the most effective solutions, and build lasting partnerships that enable them to create positive social change.

Following the annual meeting, Sir Reg will have the opportunity to meet billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sir Reg will meet New York Speaker Christine Quinn and the American Ireland Fund on Friday 24 September to conclude his visit.Speaking prior to his trip, the Minister commented: "This visit affords me unprecedented access to some of the most powerful men and women in the US.  I will use the opportunities presented over the next few days to reinforce the message that Northern Ireland has much to offer ahead of the economic conference in Washington next month."

Notes to Editors:

1.    The Wall Street50 - 2010 ceremony on Monday 20 September is considered one of the premier business events of the year on the Irish American calendar. The Irish America editor Patricia Harty described this as an invaluable resource for all of Ireland and Irish America.

2.       The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) was established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton and convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

3.       The 2010 Annual Meeting takes place from 20-23 September and will be structured around four new Action Areas: Empowering Girls & Women, Strengthening Market-Based Solutions, Harnessing Human Potential and Enhancing Access to Modern Technology. Each Action Area is a strategic approach that can be used to address many global challenges.

4.       There will be a special session on Recovery in Haiti and USA's First Lady Michelle Obama will join President Clinton during the closing plenary session on Thursday, September 23.

5.       In addition to the First Lady, prominent participants include Jean-Max Bellerive, prime minister of the Republic of Haiti; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia; Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State; Cherie Blair, patron, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; Richard Branson, chairman and founder, Virgin Group Limited; Laura Bush, former first lady of the United States; John Chambers, chairman and CEO, Cisco; Paul Farmer, co-founder, Partners In Health; Melinda Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation;

6.       Further new media enquiries please call the Communications Branch, Department for Employment and Learning tel. 02890 257 872. Out of hours contact the Executive Information Service Duty Press Officer on pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Robinson saddles up for sustainable travel and city regeneration

First Minister, the Rt Hon Peter Robinson MLA, today showed support for the economic benefits of sustainable travel and the regeneration of our cities. 

The First Minister took part in the ‘Cycle to the City’ Comber ride as part of the 15th Anniversary of the National Cycle Network event.

Following his journey, Mr Robinson said: "In taking forward the regeneration of our towns and cities, we need to support our investment in transport with measures to reduce car dependence and promote more sustainable alternatives including walking and cycling."

Recognising the importance of sustainable travel to the local economy, he added: "The availability of walking and cycling infrastructure is a key issue and facilitating increased levels of walking and cycling is not only good for the environment and our health, but it can also play an important role in attracting high value businesses to local areas and investment in our economy."

The 15th Anniversary of the National Cycle Network ‘event was organised by Sustrans at the Titanic Quarter, Belfast. 

Sustrans organised four ‘Cycling to the City’ from four outer city areas of Newtownabbey, Lisburn, Comber and Bangor to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the National Cycle Network. 

The event, sponsored by the Travelwise scheme as part of the European Mobility Week/Travelwise Week, raises the profile of cycling as a sustainable travel choice, helping people to Travel Smarter, Live Better.

Notes to editors:

1. National Cycle Network is a network of traffic-free greenways, quiet lanes and on-road walking and cycling routs extending 810 miles across Northern Ireland, including the Comber Greenway, the Lagan Towpath and the Newtownabbey Way. The sponsored rides are to raise funds to further develop the National Cycle Network.

2. Sustrans is a charity that assists in enabling people to travel by foot, bicycle or public transport encouraging encouraging people to make smarter travel choices.

3. Pictures being issued by Harrison photography on behalf of Sustrans tel: 028 9066 3100

4. Media queries to OFMDFM Press Office 028 9037 9082. Out of hours contact pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.