Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Social Development Minister seeks to protect persons and families in need in budget proposals

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood today published his Department's Draft Budget.
The Minister emphasised his commitment to protecting the vulnerable in society, bringing divided communities together, providing access to decent, affordable homes and creating sustainable urban centres.
In outlining his next steps the Minister said:"At the Executive I supported consultation on the budget, but did not endorse it. As such, this is still a draft budget. I will be hosting half a dozen key events around Northern Ireland consulting with people, listening to them and building up the argument to ensure I achieve the best budget outcome going forward and for all those in need.
"But let's be clear, I will be putting my money where my mouth is with regard to protecting persons and families in need. Budgets will be protected for vital programmes which address households in need, including revenue and capital programmes to address fuel poverty (Warm Homes), supported housing vulnerable people, and disadvantaged communities (Neighbourhood Renewal).
"But I will also be tough minded around the Department. I will be ensuring reductions in administration expenditure, such as consultancy, travel, corporate services, and identify opportunities for sharing services and thereby reduce costs which do not impact on the delivery of services to the public. In all of this, redesigning delivery models in social security and child maintenance to improve levels of customer service remain a longer term objective. "
In a commitment to protecting jobs Alex Attwood said: "Although it is clear that the proposed budget settlement presents many challenges for the Department and organisations we support, I believe that the proposed settlement should not lead to staff redundancies in the Department, the Social Security Agency and the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division - the proposed additional resources detailed in the Draft will create posts and any necessary staff adjustments can be handled by normal turnover.
Notes to editors:
  1. In advance of Minister Attwood briefing the Social Development Committee on Thursday morning, further significant further details on each of the budget headings that will confirm how it is planned to protect those in need and the further negotiations needed will be published.
  2. Media enquiries to DSD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call returned.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Appointees named for water investigation

The First Minister and deputy First Minister have appointed two people in relation to the investigation into the handling by NI Water of the recent major interruption of water supplies.

Philip Holder and Heather Moorhead will consider the broader governance issues, including the role and responsibilities of the Minister for Regional Development and his Department, in relation to the matter. They will also consider the recommendations of the Utility Regulator who is examining the role of NI Water in the incident.

Notes to editors:

1. Philip Holder has spent much of his career in the utilities and related services sectors. He spent 25 years at East Surrey Holdings (ESH), latterly as MD with responsibility for its water and gas divisions.

He currently holds the following Non-Executive posts;

  • Non-Executive Chairman of Fulcrum Utility Services – Fulcrum is an AIM listed company which deals with connections to gas networks throughout GB. It also owns some gas networks.
  • Non-Executive Director and committee member of Compania Logistica de Hidrocarburos in Madrid, Spain. CLH stores and distributes, via pipeline, all Spain’s refined fuels (ie diesel, heating oil, petrol, aviation fuel) and biofuels.
  • Non-Executive Chairman of Forefront Utilities – Forefront provides main laying and all associated services to National Grid and all other gas infrastructure companies.

2. Heather Moorhead is a graduate of the University of Ulster. She served as CEO of NILGA (Northern Ireland Local Government Association) from 2002-2010. Her professional background is in corporate governance and management within the public sector.

3. Media enquiries to the OFMDFM Press Office on 028 9037 8142. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned

Monday, 3 January 2011

Education Minister - Vast majority of schools to reopen

Education Minister CaitrĂ­ona Ruane has said that only 9 schools which were to reopen on Tuesday will not be able to do so.
The Minister was speaking during a visit to St Patrick's Primary School Mayobridge where she met with the principal and maintenance staff who had carried out repairs at the school. The school is able to reopen as planned.
The Minister said: "As a result of a tremendous effort on behalf of principals and maintenance staff over the holiday weekend the number of schools unable to reopen on Tuesday has been reduced to nine. We initially had several hundred incidents reported but close co-operation at all levels has greatly reduced this number, thus reducing the potential inconvenience to pupils. My Department has been proactive in ensuring the arrangements which are in place to deal with emergency situations operated effectively and this has proven to be the case."
The Department of Education has been advised that the following schools which were due to reopen on Tuesday 4 January are not able to do so.
A full list of schools will be published on

As this list will be updated, parents are asked to confirm directly with schools on individual circumstances. NI Water has advised the Department that no schools should be affected by interruptions of water supply during school hours.

South Eastern Education and Library Board - No school closures reported

Southern Education and Library Board - Bridge Integrated Primary School, Ballygowan Road, Banbridge

North Eastern Education and Library Board - Ballymoney Nursery School, North Road, Ballymoney; Slemish Integrated College, Ballymena; Riverside Special School, Antrim; Monkstown Nursery School, Jennings Park, Monkstown; Dunluce High School, Dunluce Road, Bushmills.

Belfast Education and Library Board - St John the Baptist Boys and Girls PS, Finaghy Road North, Belfast

Western Education and Library Board - St Eugene's Primary School, Francis Street, Derry; Drumragh College, Donaghanie Road, Omagh

Notes to Editors:

Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.