Monthly Archives: March 2016

Lagan Valley Island lights up for World Down Syndrome Day

Cllr Vasundhara Kamble

Cllr Vasundhara Kamble

Lisburn and Castlereagh Councillors have agreed to light up Lagan Valley Island in blue and yellow on 21 March to show support for World Down Syndrome day.

The decision was taken following a proposal from Alliance Party councillor Vasundhara Kamble, who said; “This is the tenth year of World Down Syndrome Day, and I am very pleased that my fellow councilors have agreed to help raise public awareness of Down syndrome through this simple gesture.

“Right across the world this important day will be observed in many ways and it is appropriate for Lisburn and Castlereagh to show our support and help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.”

WDSD was first observed in 2006 in many countries around the world and in December 2011 the United Nations General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

McIntyre: Health Minister must reveal decision on junior doctor contracts

Alliance representatives at the Junior Doctor Rally.

Alliance representatives at the Junior Doctor Rally.

Alliance Councillor Aaron McIntyre has called on the Health Minister to announce his decision on junior doctor contracts, as Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council backed his proposal to write to the Minister, urging an immediate response.

Councillor McIntyre said: “Health is a devolved issue, so there is no reason for our Health Minister to follow the English Health Secretary, who has imposed the unfair and unsafe contracts on the junior doctors.

“Scotland and Wales have already stated they will not impose the new contracts and Alliance is calling on the Health Minister to end the uncertainty and make an announcement as soon as possible.

“Junior Doctors are the cornerstone of our health service and any negative changes to their contracts could have serious implications for staff welfare and the wellbeing of patients. The lack of a decision is already impacting morale among junior doctors.

“With the on-going uncertainty we will continue to see junior doctors vote with their feet, and any further brain drain will only further deepen the crisis within the NHS – especially with news this week that thousands of NHS posts lie vacant across the UK.”

Alliance Assembly member Trevor Lunn added: “Last October, Alliance MLAs wrote to the Health Minister to support the junior doctors. It is now time for a decision to end the uncertainty, which is impacting on morale in our hospitals. We cannot afford to lose any junior doctors to other health services which value them more highly.”

Lunn welcomes tougher penalties for animal cruelty

Alliance Assembly member Trevor Lunn has welcomed the decision of Justice Minister David Ford to increase the penalties on those convicted of animal cruelty.

Trevor Lunn said: “I welcome the swift action of Alliance Justice Minister David Ford in including these new penalties in the Justice Bill currently going through the Assembly. This sends a clear message that anyone convicted of cruelty to defenceless animals could face up to five years in prison.
“There had been a local suggestion to regard theft of pets as animal cruelty, but this is outside the current legislative proposals and would be dealt with as a separate offence.”

Those convicted of animal cruelty can now expect; increased maximum sentences for Crown Court cases raised from 2 years to 5 years, increased maximum sentences for Magistrates’ Court cases raised from 6 months to 12 months, maximum Magistrates’ Court fines increasing from £5000 to £20000.


Smoking ban will protect children says Gawith

Getty Images

Getty Images

Alliance Councillor Owen Gawith, who is a member of the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s Health Working Group, has welcomed the ban on smoking in a car when a child is present.

Councillor Gawith was speaking after the Assembly voted to introduce the ban, which is unlikely to come in before next year. Councillor Gawith said: “This very welcome news goes some way to protect children from the dangers of passive smoking. As it also limits the opportunities for children to see adults smoking, I hope it can reduce the likelihood of children taking up smoking. A similar ban has recently been introduced in England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland and I look forward to its implementation in Northern Ireland.

“Smoking not only has a human cost, in terms of the illnesses directly resulting from it, but also places a huge burden on the health service. I hope that both these bans on smoking will help change the attitudes and habits of smokers, who can access a range of free initiatives to help them quit.”