Local government calls for greater powers in meeting with Northern Ireland Minister

(L-R) NILGA Vice President Ald Alan McDowell, NILGA Head of Policy & Governance Karen Smyth, NILGA Vice President Ald Danny Kinahan, NILGA President Cllr Frances Burton, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP and NILGA Vice President Cllr Matt Garrett

(L-R) NILGA Vice President Ald Alan McDowell, NILGA Head of Policy & Governance Karen Smyth, NILGA Vice President Ald Danny Kinahan, NILGA President Cllr Frances Burton, Minister of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP and NILGA Vice President Cllr Matt Garrett

Commenting following a meeting with Minister of State for Northern Ireland Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) President Cllr Frances Burton said:

“This meeting has come at a crucial time for local government in Northern Ireland. We need clarity from central government over Brexit and we need immediate financial and administrative support to ensure high-quality service provision. In the continued absence of an Executive at Stormont, local councils here have been the only form of fully functioning and politically directed government here for nearly three years.

“While councils should be commended for continuing to provide first-class public services under extreme pressure, they urgently need greater finances, resources and powers to ease the strain and best meet the demands of local people. NILGA is a willing partner and is ready to work with Mr Hurd and the Northern Ireland Office in the continued absence of Stormont to ensure we can make Northern Ireland more accountable, sustainable and well-governed.”

Brown O’Connor Communications Weekly Look Ahead: Week Commencing 23 September 2019

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Forward Look

  • The Supreme Court in London has been hearing arguments from the Government and opposition campaigners over the legality of Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks. A decision is expected early next week which could have significant ramifications on the constitution and the Government’s Brexit plan.

  • Sinn Féin launched “a new economic strategy for the north” this week ahead of consultation with business groups and stakeholders. The strategy identifies four key levers as good jobs, regional balance, a zero carbon economy and productivity.

  • The Department of Finance will launch “The Open Data Strategy for Northern Ireland 2020 – 2023” on Monday 14 October at the Skainos Centre in Belfast. The strategy is seen as a vital step in reaffirming the public sector’s commitment to Open Data and Open Government.

  • The Department of Finance officially launched a public consultation on business rates this week. This follows Permanent Secretary Sue Gray’s announcement of a full and comprehensive review in May. The process will involve a series of engagements across NI ahead of the consultation deadline on 11 November.

  • The Labour Party Conference will take place in Brighton next week. The position which the party takes in regards to Brexit will be central, however Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will remain “neutral” in any future referendum.

  • The Special EU Programmes Body which manages the EU’s new PEACE PLUS programmes is planning a major public consultation exercise to take place in every county in NI and the border regions of Ireland. This is expected to take place towards the end of the year and follows commitments from the UK and Irish governments and the EU that the programme will go ahead post-2020.

  • The Bank of England has kept the interest rate unchanged at 0.75%. They signalled that the UK would avoid falling into recession this year and that prolonged Brexit uncertainty would keep the interest rate lower for longer.

  • An Irish Government spokesperson has said that Boris Johnson and Leo Varadkar hope to meet in New York next week.

  • SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood has said he is considering challenging Sinn Féin for the Westminster seat in Foyle. Current Foyle MP, Elisha McCallion has been selected to stand.

  • Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr John Finucane has announced his intention to run as MP for North Belfast in the General Election

  • NI nurses are to be balloted on industrial action up to and including strike action. The ballot opens on 9 October and will last 4 weeks.

  • The Institute for Government will launch a new report on Thursday, “Governing Without Ministers” looking at how NI has functioned without ministers for nearly 1000 days.

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Other stories this week    

  • Arlene Foster addressed the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and held a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday evening. She said that she hopes there are solutions to the Brexit impasse that involve special treatment for Northern Ireland but which do not affect the constitutional position.

  • Jean-Claude Juncker described his meeting with Boris Johnson on Monday as “positive”. He believes that a Brexit deal can be reached by 31 October.

  • Sinn Féin President, Mary-Lou McDonald held a meeting with Secretary of State, Julian Smith in Dublin on Monday. She called for the UK government to “get real” on Brexit and to deal in “facts rather than fantasy”.

  • The Irish Government published draft legislation which would extend voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens who are not residents of the Republic of Ireland. A referendum will follow later this year.

  • David Cameron’s autobiography, “For the Record” was released. It features his views on events throughout his premiership including the Scottish Referendum and Brexit.

  • The Liberal Democrats held their party conference this week. They overwhelmingly backed Jo Swinson’s proposal for a manifesto pledge to revoke article 50.

  • Former Conservative leadership candidate Sam Gyimah defected to the Lib Dems, becoming their 18th MP.

Upcoming key political and business events

  • 25 September, Top 100 Hospitality Businesses 2020 Launch, Hospitality Ulster, HMS Caroline

  • 27 September, DUP Business Lunch, Fortwilliam Golf Club

  • 27 September, ‘Engage Executive Talent’ Recruitment Company Launch, CO3, Merchant Hotel, Belfast

  • 8 October, ‘Changing Places: Planning, Place-Shaping and Place-Making in Northern Ireland’, NILGA, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

  • 11 October, Annual President’s Dinner, Derry Chamber, Everglades Hotel, Derry

  • 25-26 October, DUP Party Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel Belfast

  • 11-15 November, Derry City and Strabane District Council Trade & Investment Mission to Philadelphia and Boston

  • 15-16 November, Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, Millennium Forum Derry

  • 4 December, ‘Next steps for city and growth deals in Northern Ireland – Implementation, co-ordination and ensuring inclusive growth’, Policy Forum for Northern Ireland, Belfast

Consultations

 



Hospitality Ulster reacts to the launch of public consultation on business rates

Colin Neill, CEO Hospitality Ulster

Colin Neill, CEO Hospitality Ulster

Reacting to the news that the Department of Finance has launched a public consultation on business rates in Northern Ireland, Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said today:

“The launch of this business rates consultation has been long anticipated and we welcome the fact it is now open for responses.”  

“Hospitality Ulster has been resolute in its demands that business rates for the sector needs to change and has lobbied consistently for that to happen for the past numbers of years. The way business rates are calculated for the hospitality sector are completely out of kilter with other businesses and are a significant financial burden on top of ever increasing costs that are squeezing margins and threatening to put many out of business.”

“This consultation is the next step in the roadmap for radical change to an antiquated and not fit for purpose system which is a major burden for our members.” 

“At the last UK Budget, the Chancellor gave hospitality businesses among others a third off their rate bills in England, however this didn’t apply to Northern Ireland. We continue to pay the highest business rates in the UK and are getting very little in terms of support. We want nothing less than real and meaningful change for our members here.”

“In this consultation we will be outlining significant changes to Rates, including our proposals for a targeted approach to small business rates relief, a revamp of the Rates Hardship fund, green rates rebate for businesses who invest in carbon neutral technology and greater relief for new start businesses.”

“The outcomes and recommendations of this consultation need to clearly show that if we are serious about our economy then the hospitality sector needs significantly lower business rates to allow it to thrive in challenging economic times.”

CEO of NI dedicated HIV Charity, Positive Life, reacts to Gareth Thomas news

Chief Executive, Positive Life - Northern Ireland’s only dedicated Charity supporting those with HIV

Chief Executive, Positive Life - Northern Ireland’s only dedicated Charity supporting those with HIV

Reacting to the news that Gareth Thomas, Ex Wales Rugby Captain has revealed he has HIV, Jacquie Richardson, Chief Executive of Positive Life, Northern Ireland’s only dedicated charity supporting those with HIV said:

“This is an incredibly brave thing for Gareth Thomas to do and will help to break the stigma around HIV which is now considered a lifelong condition.”

“The fear that he would have faced before revealing his status would have been immense and it is commendable that he has done this in such a public way. It should be an example to anyone who feels that they might be at risk, or too afraid to face the issue, that help is available.”

“The stigma around HIV, particularly in Northern Ireland, is crippling and needs to be continually addressed. We should not live in ignorance and realise that HIV can be managed.”

Trade NI alliance launch 10-year plan at major Northern Ireland business reception at Westminster

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Trade NI – the new alliance between Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI has launched it’s 10-year plan entitled ‘Vision 2030’ today at a major business reception at Westminster, asserting that now is the time to break the cycle of limited economic growth.

Over 350 guests attended the event that was addressed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith MP and the Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland, Stephen Pound. This is the largest ever delegation of the Northern Ireland business community to visit Westminster.

In addition, the Irish Embassy hosted a working lunch and Downing Street will be hosting an evening reception for many of the visiting business leaders.

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The transformative economic plan sets out key policy priorities that has the potential to create 65,000 jobs and to make Northern Ireland a high growth economy.

Trade NI, made up of the three largest sectors of industry and the majority of businesses in Northern Ireland employing around 300,000 people collectively, has said that any incoming Northern Ireland Executive must set out to increase the productivity of the NI workforce; reduce the regulatory burden on businesses; increase the skills base; and deliver a clear economic strategy for Northern Ireland.

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 The group has consistently raised significant concerns around the increased cost of doing business and the complexities created around Brexit uncertainty and the two-year hiatus of the Assembly and Executive at Stormont.

Key Priorities from the Trade NI Vision 2030 plan include:

  • A sustainable economy where growth is stimulated by enhanced productivity resulting from investment in education and skills, supported by responsible consumption and production.

  • A competitive economy that provides a uniquely supportive environment for doing business.

  • A global economy that is visible and attractive to the outside world with an infrastructure which supports local, national and international connectivity.

  • An economy supported by revitalised communities where people want to live, work and visit.

In a joint statement, the representatives of Trade NI, Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) said:

“Northern Ireland is facing a huge challenge as it struggles politically and economically with a growth forecast of around 1% or below. This is simply not good enough and we can’t sit idly by and let events overtake us. We must break the cycle of limited economic growth.”

“Our three organisations represent most of the businesses that make up private sector jobs in Northern Ireland. Therefore, a louder voice needs to be heard on their behalf so that they don’t suffer in the wake of the local political issues. We want a reboot of the economic policy of Northern Ireland, in order to benefit our economy and safeguard our growing business community.”

“We need to be bold and ambitious about creating 3% or even 5% growth over the next few years, but that requires decision makers to be pressed into action and a series of policy and legislative decisions to be taken and driven through. Our local economy and businesses have taken a back seat and we simply cannot afford that situation any longer.”

“Our Vision 2030 document sets out a bold new ten-year plan for creating 65,000 new jobs and creating a high growth economy. We want to make Northern Ireland the best place in the UK and Ireland to shop, socialise, locate and start a business”

“The Vision 2030 plan sets out to create a better functioning business environment and attract further inward investment that will lead to a revitalised economy taking on the challenge in turbulent times.”

“We want to make Northern Ireland an eco-system of innovation.”

“Trade NI is keen to work with all business organisations, chambers of commerce, trade unions and voluntary sector representation to create a new progressive partnership for change in Northern Ireland.”

They added:

“We are expecting a huge turnout today at Westminster from the Northern Ireland business community and elected representatives from right across the political spectrum with a vested and keen interest in ensuring that Northern Ireland is placed on the right path after several years of stagnation.”

“We are not isolated from the fact that this report has been launched at a time of political upheaval. Our day of engagements in London should send a clear signal to our own MPs, wider elected representatives and the British and Irish Governments that the economic health of Northern Ireland must be a priority.”

Kevin Kingston, Chief Executive of Danske Bank, sponsor of Trade NI’s Westminster reception, said:

“Danske Bank is proud to be one of the main sponsors of Trade NI’s Westminster reception. Trade NI is seizing the initiative and ensuring that the voice of the local business community is being heard loud and clear at a time of upheaval and uncertainty.”

“The vibrancy of the Northern Ireland private sector is imperative to the strength of our economy and we need to ensure that local businesses are protected and well positioned to be able to compete globally in the post-Brexit environment.”

Emma Gilthorpe, Executive Director, Heathrow Expansion added:

“Heathrow is delighted to support the launch of Trade NI, echoing Heathrow’s commitment to connect Northern Ireland to global growth and to share the benefits of an expanded Heathrow with the businesses and communities of Northern Ireland.”

Sponsors of the Trade NI Westminster NI Engagement Day include:

  1. Heathrow Airport

  2. Danske Bank

  3. Foyle Port

  4. Flybe

  5. Eversheds Sutherland

  6. Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council

  7. Belfast City Council

  8. Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council

  9. Mid & East Antrim Borough Council

Brown O’Connor Communications Weekly Look Ahead: Week Commencing 2 September 2019

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Forward Look

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that Parliament would be prorogued for up to five weeks from the week beginning 9 September, leading up to the Queen’s speech on 14 October. This move will restrict parliamentary time for opposition parties trying to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

  • Opposition figures are expected to request an emergency SO24 debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday in order to seize control of the order paper and table legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit.

  • A legal challenge in the Court of Session in Edinburgh is considering the legality of the government’s decision to suspend Parliament. Meanwhile, a legal challenge by the victims campaigner, Raymond McCord against this suspension has commenced in the High Court in Belfast.

  • Chancellor, Sajid Javid will unveil his first spending review on Wednesday 4 September. This review is expected to include extra cash for schools, police and the NHS. This announcement has fueled speculation that the government is now on full election footing.

  • The DUP North Belfast Business lunch will take place on 27 September. It is expected to be addressed by Arlene Foster, Nigel Dodds and Diane Dodds. The party conference is also expected to take place on 25 – 26 October.

  • NI Affairs Committee to meet Wednesday 4 September on the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.

  • Exiting the European Union Committee to hear from representatives from Ulster University, Queens University, Ulster Farmers Union, FSB and the PSNI.

  • The UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow has written to the EU to confirm that the UK will not be not nominating a candidate for the 2019 – 2024 College of Commissioners.

  • Ross Easton has been appointed as Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. His Twitter handle is @rosseaston.

Other stories this week

  • The DUP have welcomed the decision to suspend Parliament but Sinn Féin, Alliance, the UUP, SDLP and opposition parties across the United Kingdom have strongly criticised the move which has been seen as anti-democratic.

  • Opposition leaders in the UK had earlier this week agreed a plan to introduce legislation in the House of Commons which would prevent a no-deal Brexit. This represents a shift from Labour’s previous position which sought an immediate no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson’s government.

  • Ruth Davidson announced on Thursday that she would be resigning as leader of the Scottish Conservative Party after eight years in charge.

  • The Digital Secretary, Nicky Morgan has launched a competition which will see rural communities in Northern Ireland compete in a £30 million roll-out of superfast 5G. Up to 10 rural locations across the UK will be chosen to test 5G applications.

  • Belfast City Council has issued warnings in case of a no-deal Brexit. The warnings note significant concerns for the possibility of a civil unrest, a backlog in bin waste and food shortages at the zoo.

  • Ireland’s population is expected to reach 5 million by the end of next year. The latest Population and Migration Estimates report from the Central Statistics Office show the Irish population increased by 64,500 to 4.92 million by April of this year.

  • The Electoral Commission has released figures which reveal Sinn Féin received a political donation of £1.5 million. This is thought to be the largest political donation ever to any political party in NI.

  • Lord Young, has resigned as the Tory whip in the House of Lords following Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament.

  • The Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage announced they would field candidates in every constituency against the Conservative Party unless Boris Johnson pursued a no-deal Brexit.

Upcoming key political and business events

  • 31 August, TEDxStormont, The Great Hall, Parliament Buildings

  • 31 August, Slugger O’Toole Big Day Out, Hilden Brewery, Hilden

  • 4 September, Spending Review, Westminster

  • 5 September, ‘Bangladesh – A Golden Journey to Development’ Reception, The Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings

  • 11 September, Trade NI ‘Northern Ireland Engagement Day’, Westminster

  • 17 September, EY ‘Economic Eye Briefing’ Business Breakfast, Titanic Hotel

  • 17 September, RTPI Northern Ireland Annual Conference, Europa Hotel, Belfast

  • 27 September, CO3 ‘Engage Executive Talent’ Recruitment Company Launch, Merchant Hotel

  • 27 September, DUP North Belfast, Business Lunch, Fortwilliam Golf Club

  • 8 October, ‘Changing Places: Planning, Place-Shaping and Place-Making in Northern Ireland’, NILGA, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

  • 14 October, Queens Speech, Westminster

  • 17-18 October, European Council Summit, Brussels

  • 25-26 October, DUP Party Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast

  • 5 November, SONI Energy Conference, Derry Chamber of Commerce, Waterfoot Hotel

  • 11-15 November, Derry City and Strabane District Council Trade & Investment Mission to Philadelphia and Boston

  • 4 December, ‘Next steps for city and growth deals in Northern Ireland – Implementation, co-ordination and ensuring inclusive growth’, Policy Forum for Northern Ireland, Belfast

Consultations

TEDxStormont set to return to Parliament Buildings in tribute to Lyra McKee

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TEDxStormont is set to return to Parliament Buildings this Saturday, 31st August, with a stellar line up of speakers from varied backgrounds such as journalism, law, peace-building, academia, music, business and the arts.

The daylong event, compered by Presenter and Broadcaster William Crawley, is expected to see 200 guests fill the Great Hall at Parliament Buildings with a larger than ever online following.

In a fitting tribute to murdered journalist and former TEDxStormont 2017 speaker Lyra McKee, her sister Nichola Corner and friend Stephen Lusty will individually take to the red spot.

Since its inception, the TEDxStormont series of talks have been viewed over 5 million times with Lyra McKee’s talk on religious and social intolerance viewed almost 150,000 times alone.

The overall theme of TEDxStormont 2019 is “Imagine” – with speakers looking forward and imagining the kind of future we could have together as a society, here in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Eva Grosman, Curator of TEDxStormont 2019 said:

“It has been less than two years since Lyra give her talk on social and religious intolerance which struck a chord with so many.”

“She was one of those speakers who was able to convey her lived experience, the barriers she faced and how she wanted to change things for the better. Her ability to communicate that message effectively helped spread it beyond the immediate audience.”

“We were heartbroken when we heard the news of her untimely passing. We felt that the right thing to do was to bring TEDx back to Stormont and roll out an event as a tribute to everything she stood for. Her enthusiasm and curiosity were compelling, and we know that many of the speakers taking to the red dot on Saturday will have watched her talk many times, studied it deeply and been inspired by her as they make their final preparations.”

“We are so grateful that her sister Nichola Corner and friend Stephen Lusty will be two of the speakers addressing the audience this weekend.”

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She added:

“This year we have a phenomenal line up of speakers from diverse backgrounds who will no doubt light up the Great Hall at Parliament Buildings. This event sold out months ago and we have had great support from a range of public and private sector organisations who are deeply committed to proving a platform for new ideas and concepts about Northern Ireland.”

TEDxStormont Speakers Include:

1.     Nichola Corner – Spiritualist and Sister of Lyra McKee

2.     Colin Davidson – Contemporary Artist

3.     Jess Dornan Lynas – Tech-founder

4.     Orla McKeating – Local Entrepreneur

5.     Saul Betmead – Creative Strategist

6.     Siobhan O’Neill – Professor of Mental Health Sciences

7.     Alice McCullough – Writer and Performer

8.     Connor Kerr – Creative Activist and Campaigner

9.     Deepa Mann-Kler – Award-winning Artist

10.  Duncan Morrow – Academic and Community Activist

11.  Fergal McFerran – LGBT Activist

12.  Laura Banks – Lawyer and Social Justice Advocate

13.  Stephen Lusty – Entrepreneur and Technologist

14.  Tim Brundle – Director of Research and Impact at Ulster University

15.  Una Jennings - Chief Superintendent

16.  Tegan Nesbitt – Winner of “Talk Like Ted” Initiative

TEDxStormont 2019 has been kindly sponsored and backed by Urban Villages, Smarts, Herbert Smith Freehills, Allstate, Ulster University and Belfast Live.

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Opinion: 'Ending free movement – what’s changing?' By Lisa Bryson, Partner, Employment and Immigration, Eversheds Sutherland

Lisa Bryson, Partner, Employment and Immigration, Eversheds Sutherland

Lisa Bryson, Partner, Employment and Immigration, Eversheds Sutherland

The last three and a bit years of Brexit discussion has been littered with buzz words and an obvious lack of substance. While Home Secretaries have come and gone, pledges to “end free movement” have endured. However, the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel has indicated that she intends to immediately end free movement to the UK of EEA citizens, in the event of a no deal Brexit. This has caused widespread and understandable alarm, not least for employers throughout the UK.

So, as we approach the intersection where actions eventually replace intentions, what is changing? A fact sheet produced by the Home Office has indicated some potential outcomes post-Brexit, but many questions remain unanswered. The following pointers are important for those most likely to be affected, in the intervening period.

The EU Settlement Scheme will continue, deal or no deal, for those resident in the UK prior to the Brexit date. EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 October 2019 will have until at least 31 December 2020, to apply for settlement. Entry to the UK for these citizens, for work or pleasure, will not be impacted in the interim. Temporary relief, but for how long?

The European Temporary Leave to Remain scheme is likely to be abandoned. This scheme would have allowed EEA nationals arriving in the UK post-Brexit day to apply for permission to live, work or study for up to three years, as a transitional measure in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Home Office position on this has shifted and now states that arrangements for people coming to the UK, for extended periods of work and study after Brexit day will ‘change’. What this change will entail remains unknown though, the forecast currently appears bleak. One thing is certain, employers require clarity now more than ever.

A new immigration system is to be announced, this new system will be effective from 31 October 2019, in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Many expected that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, there would be a sensible transition period. This has all changed. The Home Office are now tasked with implementing border restrictions from day one of a no-deal Brexit. How successful this will be is questionable with major political and legal barriers to be maneuvered ahead of 31 October.

The Home Office are yet to address how the right-to-work checks would be made on EEA citizens as part of this new system or how they intend to distinguish between EEA citizens who qualify for, but have yet to apply for settled status, and others. Uncertainty also exists for workers who have to cross the border and British citizens working abroad, who are likely to face reciprocal treatment.

Many employers believed that immigration arrangements post-Brexit had been resolved but an abrupt change of direction is clear. With the end of free movement now looming closer, employers who will be impacted by the proposed changes should pay close attention to immigration announcements and developments in the coming weeks.

Valley Leisure Centre crowned Northern Ireland's Top Team

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr John Finucane and GLL Regional Director Gareth Kirk present lifeguards from Valley Leisure Centre with their prize for winning GLL’s Top Team lifeguarding competition

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr John Finucane and GLL Regional Director Gareth Kirk present lifeguards from Valley Leisure Centre with their prize for winning GLL’s Top Team lifeguarding competition

Northern Ireland’s top lifeguarding team was crowned on Thursday (22 August) at Olympia Leisure Centre.

Valley Leisure Centre won the Top Team Lifeguarding Championship hosted by social enterprise GLL, in partnership with Belfast City Council. The Championship is intended to promote swimming pool safety.

The competition involved lifeguards from council areas across Northern Ireland pitching themselves against each other in a battle of lifeguarding skills, strength and knowledge.

The highly interactive competition took place at Olympia Leisure Centre on Belfast’s Boucher Road and saw ten teams test their skills, both in and out of the pool. 

Belfast lifeguard teams from Olympia, Grove, Shankill, Falls and Whiterock leisure centres competed against teams from Valley, Sixmile, Antrim, Lisburn, Banbridge and Cascades leisure centres. The teams were scored by two independent lifeguarding trainers from the UK.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor John Finucane said:

“It’s fantastic to see so many different teams from across Belfast and beyond taking part in today’s event. The service they provide is absolutely crucial in ensuring people can enjoy swimming facilities in a safe and well managed environment. As well as providing some healthy competition between leisure centres, today also provides the perfect opportunity for the lifeguards to showcase their skills and talents. I want to congratulate all the teams involved and encourage them to continue their great work in keeping people safe.”

Lifeguards from different leisure centres across Northern Ireland take part in the annual GLL Top Team competition at Olympia Leisure Centre in Belfast.

Lifeguards from different leisure centres across Northern Ireland take part in the annual GLL Top Team competition at Olympia Leisure Centre in Belfast.

GLL Regional Director Gareth Kirk commented at the event:

“Lifeguarding is a crucial service in our leisure centres and we invest heavily in ensuring our lifeguards are continually tested and improving their skill sets.

“The Top Team event is a great way of doing that and by introducing a competitive element to it, means our teams get fired up for a bit of a friendly challenge and it makes it more fun for everyone involved.

“This is the third time we have run the competition and we are very pleased to see it go from strength to strength each year. We’ve seen that the event is a brilliant opportunity for lifeguards to learn new skills, enjoy some rivalry with other teams and create stronger and more cohesive lifeguarding teams. It’s a pleasure to host teams from outside of the Belfast council area and the rivalry is always good humoured. We hope to see the competition go from strength to strength each year.”

Each team is made up of four members who competed in scenarios designed to test their skills at dealing with a number of incidents including simulated CPR, first aid management and in-water rescue. These were set in both a dry environment and in the pool area. Lifeguards were then scored on the speed in which they reacted to the scenarios and the protocols they followed in their responses.

The top three teams at the end of event were as follows:

First Place: Valley Leisure Centre       

Second Place: Olympia Leisure Centre

Third Place: Cascades Leisure Centre   

Brown O'Connor Communications: Key Political and Business Events & Live Consultations

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Upcoming key political and business events

  • 31 August, TEDxStormont, The Great Hall, Parliament Buildings

  • 31 August, Slugger O’Toole Big Day Out, Hilden Brewery, Hilden

  • 5 September, ‘Bangladesh – A Golden Journey to Development’ Reception, The Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings

  • 11 September, Trade NI ‘Northern Ireland Engagement Day’, Westminster

  • 17 September, RTPI Northern Ireland Annual Conference, Europa Hotel, Belfast

  • 27 September, CO3 Executive Recruitment Company Launch, Merchant Hotel, Belfast

  • 8 October, ‘Changing Places: Planning, Place-Shaping and Place-Making in Northern Ireland’, NILGA, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

  • 11-15 November, Derry City and Strabane District Council Trade & Investment Mission to Philadelphia and Boston

  • 4 December, ‘Next steps for city and growth deals in Northern Ireland – Implementation, co-ordination and ensuring inclusive growth’, Policy Forum for Northern Ireland, Belfast

Consultations