Monday, 19 March 2012

Excitement growing around 2012 Games as torchbearers and street route revealed

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has given details of the street routes and the inspirational torchbearers who will carry the Olympic Flame when it visits Ireland in June.


The Olympic Torch relay begins in East Belfast on Sunday the 3 June and over the course of the relay it will be within ten miles of 95% of the local population.

Speaking at Stormont, which is part of the torch route, Sports Minister, Carál Ni Chuilín said: "This is a real opportunity for the entire island to shine as the torch visits between 3 June and 7 June. The relay will showcase and celebrate our torchbearers who are inspirational people who do so much for their local communities.

"As the torch journeys across the country, from Belfast to Derry to Aughnacloy, Banbridge and Larne over the four day celebration, the eyes of the world will be on our beautiful landscape and iconic buildings and our amazing cultural and sporting achievements.

"Excitement is growing now that local people can begin to plan where the torchbearers will be carrying the torch in their areas and plan to celebrate the arrival in their communities."

The torch will visit Dublin on Wednesday 6 June 2012. 

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring said: "The visit of the Olympic Flame in June will be a wonderful opportunity for Ireland to be even more closely involved with the 2012 London Olympic Games and for Irish people to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world."

The Minister added "Tourism also has the opportunity to benefit from the international media focus on the island of Ireland as the Olympic Torch Relay comes here for the first time and I know the tourism agencies will be doing everything they can to maximise the benefits."

More information about the streets through which the Torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame is available from the Olympic Torch Relay - London2012 website 

The Torchbearers announced today include those that were successful through the public nomination processes run by LOCOG and the Presenting Partners, Coca Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. Each Torchbearer has also had confirmed the details of what day and in which community in the North they will be carrying the Flame. LOCOG has endeavoured to slot Torchbearers within an hour of their nomination address so family and friends can cheer them on. 

The Torchbearers are listed by the community they are carrying the Olympic Flame in at Olympic Torch Relay - London2012 website together with a selection of their inspiring stories. The remaining Torchbearers will be confirmed over the coming months.

An average of 115 Torchbearers a day will carry the Olympic Flame en route to the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012.

The overnight stops and evening celebrations in the North of Ireland leg of the Olympic Torch Relay are Newry, Derry, Portrush and Belfast. These are taking place between the 3rd and 7th of June 2012. Further information about celebrations and is available from Local District Councils.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Local pay - the Government's cash grab from Northern Ireland

Statement from Finance Minister Sammy Wilson

"This morning's rumours that the Chancellor is set to announce local pay variations for those who work in the public sector in the budget on Wednesday will have immense impact on poorer regions and local administrations such as Northern Ireland Executive.

"First of all, although the measure has been suggested by the Government sometime ago it was always understood that there would be input from local representatives on National Pay Negotiation Bodies giving vital information as to whether or not there was even a problem caused by national pay awards.

"Finance Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already expressed their opposition to this proposal in recent meetings with Treasury Ministers and had been assured that the implementation of any proposal was on the long finger and not imminent. That assurance was given as little as two weeks ago.

"Secondly this proposal addresses a problem that doesn't even exist. There is no evidence that National agreed public sector wages create problems for the private sector in recruiting workers.

"That is evidence by the fact that with high levels of unemployment the private sector has been able to reduce wages not only in Northern Ireland but in other parts of the UK and where there are labour shortages it is very often in an area where the private sector are not competing with the public sector.

"This policy is really another excuse to grab cash from Devolved Administrations and from poorer regions of the UK in an attempt to balance the Treasury books. The wage freeze which many public sector workers will face could last for years the saving will simply be reduced from the block grants that will be made to the Devolved Administrations reducing further the level of economic activity and spending in those areas, deflating local economies and causing even greater inequality across the UK.

"This is a measure with wide ramifications for individuals and for our economy as a whole and will certainly be vigorously opposed not just by ourselves but by the other two administrations as well as MP's from across the UK since it will impact with equal consequences in the North East, the North West and the South West of England."

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Robinson and McGuinness welcome Oscar winning team to Stormont

First Minister the Rt. Hon. Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP, MLA tonight hosted a special reception for the local creative team behind the Oscar winning short film, 'The Shore'.

Pictured L-R deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Terry George, Oorlagh George 
and First Minister Peter Robinson. The Shore was written and directed by Terry George and produced by his daughter Oorlagh on location in Coney Island, Co Down.

Welcoming the top class cast along with director Terry George and his family, including daughter Oorlagh who was the film's producer, the Ministers praised the picture after a special screening in Parliament Buildings. They said: "This is a delightful tale, beautifully told and acted. It is a superb film - a little gem. Shot on location at Coney Island in County Down, not only does it showcase our world-beating local creative talent, but it gives a worldwide audience a glimpse of the unique beauty of our homeland.

"Congratulations to Terry and Oorlagh and the hugely talented cast who have added to our rapidly growing status in the creative industries.

"The success of 'The Shore' is global recognition of the Executive's continued support to our local film industry which has attracted major players such as HBO and Universal Studios. And, it also reminds the World that this is an exciting place to work, learn and visit."