NILGA leadership engage directly with Brexit Ministers in London

The leadership of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association - the body which represents councils here - have pressed the case for the prioritisation of local communities & councils in Northern Ireland in the Brexit process, after securing a series of key meetings in London.

The meeting with Steve Baker MP and Robin Walker MP, both Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXEU), is part of a wider four country delegation set up amid growing concerns presented by councils, trade and enterprise bodies together with council led cross border groups, regarding NI’s position within the EU withdrawal negotiations.

NILGA President Ald Arnold Hatch, past President Cllr Seán McPeake and Chief Executive Derek McCallan also invited the Brexit Ministers to meet in Northern Ireland as part of a clear campaign to move the Brexit piece from statistics to local people and places across NI.  

NILGA Pres Alderman Arnold Hatch and Cllr Sean McPeake.jpg

Alderman Arnold Hatch, NILGA President

“Local government in Northern Ireland simply can’t be an afterthought, reacting to what others do or don’t do in terms of the EU referendum next steps.”

“We as councils will need to anticipate legislative and regulatory change, as well as community impact, in terms of finance and peace building. So, we are going directly to the people who are responsible for negotiating the Brexit deal.”

“We need stronger assurances from government about what this is all leading to. Our engagement with member councils and wider stakeholders shows that the impacts of Brexit are starting to bite, specifically in the manufacturing, food & drink, transport, agriculture, fisheries and construction sectors.  We need to be opportunistic also, which is why NILGA has already secured Northern Ireland as one of just two shortlisted regions for the 52 nation Commonwealth Investment Conference, which will bring major nation export opportunities in 2019 from the likes of Canada, Australia and India.”

“NILGA has developed an Economy, Investment and Rural Development Working Group, engaging with every aspect of civic and commercial society, to identify issues from councils’ perspectives early to ensure that elected representatives in charge of the negotiations hear our key requirements clearly.”

“We have been able to secure meetings with the ‘go to’ Ministers within the department responsible for Brexit and will be going in force alongside our local government partners in England, Scotland and Wales to outline the reality that we face and the importance of prioritising our needs.” 

“Without the Assembly or Executive, we are the only politically representative voice from Northern Ireland putting these issues to the government on a collective basis.”

Upcoming Key Political and Business Events (August-November)

  • 24 August, Chartered Institute of Public Relations '999 - Emergency Communications' Panel Event, Belfast

  • 30 August, (QPol) Brexit Discussion: an update on key policy considerations, QUB

  • 12 September, NI Chamber of Commerce Annual Networking Conference, St. Georges Market

  • 13 September, CBI NI Brexit Intelligence Briefing, Belfast

  • 26 September, Smart Belfast Collaborative Challenge, Belfast City Hall

  • 29 September, NI Chamber of Commerce Golf Day, Royal Belfast

  • 30 September, Green Party Annual Conference, Belfast  

  • 1-4 October, Conservative Party Conference, Manchester

  • 5 October, INVENT 2017 Awards Dinner, Waterfront Conference Centre, Belfast.

  • 6 October, IoD NI Young Directors Conference

  • 12 October, NILGA Annual Conference, La Mon Belfast

  • 13 October, Derry Chamber of Commerce Presidents Dinner

  • 17 October, Consular Corps/Association of NI Diplomatic Dinner, Crowne Plaza, Belfast

  • 21 October, Ulster Unionist Party Conference

  • 2 November, TEDxStormont Women, Stormont

  • 17/18 November, Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, RDS, Dublin

  • 25 November, DUP Party Conference TBC

Chief Executive of NILGA, Derek McCallan reacts to 'Northern Ireland and Ireland' Brexit position paper

Derek McCallan, Chief Executive of NILGA (Northern Ireland Local Government Association) said:

“We welcome the fact that there have been some views outlined in a number of position papers on the Brexit hot topics in the last few days.”

“However, we are still miles from specifics. We need stronger assurances from government about what this is all leading to – clear options for key partner bodies in manufacturing, farming, local government, construction, and so on, to comment upon - what reality will look like for local people and businesses.”

Derek McCallan .jpg

“Without an Assembly we’re in a vulnerable position. The increasing disconnect between what is going on in London and the delivery of services on the ground here must be halted and we cannot have a shift back to centralist policies and decision making. Councils can be the antidote to this.”  

“We are calling for councils to be given real powers and real resources as part of solving this widening democratic deficit - before we are literally disempowered and made uncompetitive as an economic region.”

“NILGA has asserted for some time that you can’t run an economy in a political bubble. There is a backlog of important policies and legislation materially affecting how councils and others provide the public with services. Surely it would be a mature and rational thing to sit down with local councils and push through whatever legislation or policy is needed to move ahead, on matters like regeneration, a new Code of Conduct, resources for Emergency Planning - councils simply want to be a substantial part of the solutions needed right now.”

“NILGA is working with all councils and industry partners on driving our economy forward. We will raise these issues in the next few weeks when we travel to London as part of the UK’s four local government bodies meeting with Brexit Minister Steve Baker MP.”

“We will also have committed to engage directly with James Brokenshire MP, the NI Secretary of State, Simon Coveney TD and the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.”

Pathway to the Irish General Election 2018

The Sunday Independent had some great info last weekend on the moves towards a General Election in the south in early 2018 - here's the skinny:

Fine Gael is preparing for a general election as early as next spring.

The party has been put on full election mode by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Fine Gael officials told to advance preparations for the snap poll.

Varadkar has also set up a ‘war council’ comprising of ministers and senior party officials.

The internal ‘war council’ committee has held its first behind-closed-doors meeting in July and is now expected to meet every month once the Dail returns in September.

Fianna Fail have also stated that they will anticipate an election in spring next year well in advance of the scheduled end of the party’s supply and confidence agreement with Fine Gael.

Varadkar has also instructed senior Fine Gael officials to hold meetings with constituency chairs to ensure that they are election ready.

FG expects to complete up to 10 selection conventions before December with a view to finishing the process early next year. Fianna Fail have already held 5 selection conventions this year with more to follow

FG will hold its party conference in November.

A future coalition government involving Sinn Féin must have a strategy for Irish unification, party leader Gerry Adams has indicated.

Mr Adams said his party will place an emphasis on housing, the health service and Brexit as part of any post-election negotiations on forming a coalition government.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has commissioned a white paper on a united Ireland, which is due to be completed later this year.

Gerry Adams has said Sinn Féin is open to going into coalition with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil is in effect formalising the party’s move away from its previous stance that it would only enter government as the lead party.

Although such a change in position has to be ratified by a Sinn Féin ardfheis, Adams has said “Sinn Féin is open to negotiating with other parties to deliver a republican programme of government and real change in the lives of citizens”.

The Irish Budget will take place on 11 October.

Live Consultations in Northern Ireland


Northern Ireland's telly and online habits revealed by Ofcom

Northern Ireland has become a nation of TV binge viewers, Ofcom research reveals, with eight in ten (83%) adults ever watching multiple episodes of their favourite shows in a single sitting.

The findings are part of Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report 2017, which revealsan increasingly interconnected Northern Ireland, where the internet is now available and accessed through our TV as well as smartphones and tablets.

More than three-quarters of adults (76%) in Northern Ireland now own a smartphone, and nearly six in ten (58%) say their smartphone is their most important device for going online, compared to just over four in ten in the UK as a whole (42%). Ofcom’s research also reveals a rise in tablet ownership, with three in five households (62%) now having one.

How we watch TV programmes is also changing; one-third (33%) of households in Northern Ireland now have a smart TV. That’s lower than the wider UK average but almost double what it was last year. Four out of five homes (79%) have a fixed-line broadband connection.

On-demand viewing

While watching live TV remains important, people are increasingly turning to catch-up and on-demand streaming services.

More than eight in ten (85%) people say they enjoy the ability to watch what they want, when they want. Two-thirds (65%) of people are drawn to watching programmes on-demand, simply to avoid adverts.

Services from the public service broadcasters are the most popular ways of watching on-demand and streaming programmes among adults in Northern Ireland: 65% use the BBC iPlayer and 44% use the ITV Hub. But, significant numbers are also using YouTube for watching programmes and films (27%), while 28% now use Netflix and 16% use Amazon video.

The growing popularity of these services means watching multiple episodes back-to-back – or ‘binge watching’ – is now hugely popular, with 83% of people in Northern Ireland saying they have done this, and a third (32%) doing so every week.

Most binge-viewers (60%) find this type of viewing relaxing and enjoyable, and for others it’s an opportunity to discuss with friends (19%). For some, this type of viewing has been driven by a fear of someone spoiling a programme’s ending (31%).

Binge-viewing has such a strong allure that many viewers say they don’t intend to do it, but the pull of the next episode keeps them tuned in. For nearly four in ten (39%), the temptation to watch another episode has cost them sleep and left them feeling tired.

Perhaps as a result, one in three (36%) binge viewers are trying to cut down their TV viewing in some way. These include rationing their viewing (22%) or finding an alternative hobby (8%). For 2%, the solution was to cancel their subscription service.

Tech' take-up

Ofcom’s report also looks at people’s take-up and usage of technology across a range of sectors, from TV and radio through to post, telecoms and the internet.

People in Northern Ireland now spend more than 20 hours every week online, and younger people are far more likely to be online than the over-65s. People in households with children are also more likely to have an internet connection than those without children (90% vs. 72%).

Despite the rise in online activity, traditional media remains popular. People spend more time watching live TV (an average of 3 hours 36 minutes a day) than engaging in any other communications activity.

Pay-TV services from Sky, Virgin Media, and BT are also popular, with 64% of households in Northern Ireland having paid-for channels delivered by satellite, cable, broadband or Freeview top-up services. However, this is down 10 percentage points on the previous year.

Ofcom’s research also shows that people continue to turn to TV first to keep-up with the latest news. More than seven in ten adults (72%) in Northern Ireland say TV is the most important source of news in Northern Ireland, followed by radio (12%) and websites or apps (7%).

Most watched TV

Programmes with a local flavour are popular with viewers in Northern Ireland.

Four of the ten most-watched programmes in 2016 were from the European football championships in France, with Northern Ireland games against Wales and Germany appearing at second and third on the list. The penultimate episode of the ITV drama, The Secret, was the most watched programme in Northern Ireland last year (see below).

Listening to the radio continues to play an important part in our lives, and nine in ten people in Northern Ireland tune in every week. On average, we listen to more than 20 hours of radio every week.

People in Northern Ireland are more likely to tune into local BBC and commercial stations than listeners elsewhere. These stations account for 60% of listening, compared to 36% for the UK as a whole.

Although digital radio ownership is lower in Northern Ireland than in other UK nations, ownership has increased and more than a third of households now have one (37%, compared to 57% across the UK). Listening to digital (either through a radio, online, or on the TV) accounts for a third of people’s total listening, with the remainder (70%) tuning in on FM or AM.


Key Points from 'NI Finance Written Statement' from NI Sec of State today

This afternoon the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire MP, delivered a written statement to the House of Commons on NI Finances – the ‘monitoring round’ is usually delivered by the NI Executive Minister at the Assembly.

Some of the key points by Bokenshire from his written statement:

  • “If an agreement is reached, I will move quickly to bring forward the necessary legislation to allow an Executive to meet at the next earliest opportunity.”
  • “I will maintain close contact with party leaders and the Irish Government over the coming weeks to seek to consolidate progress and encourage continuing discussions towards a deal.”
  • “While agreement remains possible, it is clear that an Executive will not be capable of being formed before the autumn.”
  • “In the Autumn, Northern Ireland must have a proper Budget in place to put its finances on a secure footing. Although we are not at that critical point yet, this is approaching.”
  • “I reaffirm that the UK Government remains prepared to take forward legislation at Westminster to give authority for the expenditure of Northern Ireland departments should an Executive not be restored in the autumn.”
  • “It remains for NI civil servants to allocate cash under s59 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. It is important to acknowledge, however, that as the year progresses the scope for significant changes will become more constrained.”

Press Release 12.07.17: Belfast film ROCKY ROS MUC to be released in US

Belfast film ROCKY ROS MUC to be released in US

A film directed and produced by Belfast based production company Below The Radar is set for its US release and will qualify for the 2018 Academy Awards – a first for an Irish language feature length documentary.

ROCKY ROS MUC premiered in Boston in March and will have its Irish premiere at the prestigious Galway Film Fleadh this evening. This Galway screening of ROCKY ROS MUC has already sold out.

The film was funded by TG4, the Broadcasting Authority in Ireland, the Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund and MG Alba.

The film will then go on release in cinemas in New York and Los Angeles in the Autumn, meaning it will qualify for the chance to be shortlisted for an Oscar at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Sean Mannion

Sean Mannion

Plans too are advanced for a theatrical release in Ireland, north and south later this year.

ROCKY ROS MUC is a gritty film about the story of Galway boxer Sean Mannion, a world-class boxer who left the Irish-speaking village of Ros Muc in Galway, for Boston, in the 1970s.

The film examines Mannion’s fighting spirit inside the ring as a professional boxer, and his life outside the ring where his sparring partners and friends at the time were at the heart of Whitey Bulger’s notorious Winter Hill gang and the South Boston criminal underworld. 

Proinsias Ní Ghráinne, Commissioning Editor at TG4 said:

“The cinema release of Rocky Ros Muc in Ireland and the U.S is testament to the quality of this superb Irish language film.  Rocky Ros Muc is a fine example of TG4's continued commitment to bring character-based, compelling narratives with the scope and ambition to work on many platforms to audiences at home and abroad.   We look forward to the premiere TV broadcast on TG4 in 2018 and to seeing how the local, skillfully and authentically produced, can have global appeal”

James Hickey, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board Chief Executive said:

“We are delighted to have supported this powerful Irish language film which is the documentary feature debut from Michael Fanning, a director we hope to work with again in the future. I’m sure that both Irish and international audiences will engage with the film on its theatrical release later this year.”

Director of ROCKY ROS MUC, Michael Fanning said:

“We have had a phenomenal response to the film since it was first screened in Boston in the spring. Sean Mannion’s story is one that needed to be told and we are especially excited to be able to bring this film home to Ireland – first to Galway and then to Sean’s own small home town of Ros Muc, which will be an emotional night.

Michael Fanning, Director, ROCKY ROS MUC 

Michael Fanning, Director, ROCKY ROS MUC 

“I first came across the story of Sean Mannion through Rónán Mac Con Iomaire’s book, Rocky Ros Muc and it fascinated me. Mannion is a humble man despite the fact he was a world class boxer and his story is one that audiences will find gripping.

“To think that his story is going to reach audiences across the USA is thrilling for everyone involved. The fact that it’ll also qualify for the Oscar next year is a boost for everyone on the team. We’re particularly excited to hear the response to the film on Irish soil in Galway this week.”

Áine Walsh of the Irish Language Broadcast Fund Northern Ireland Screen, one of the funders said:

“We are delighted that Rocky Ros Muc will air to a US audience, it is a beautifully produced documentary dealing with the universal theme of emigration that deserves a wide audience. This opportunity will raise the profile of Below the Radar, a company with an excellent track record in Irish language production, as well as raise the profile of Irish language production in general. This also aligns with Northern Ireland Screen's strategy of promoting local content to an international audience 

In another coup for the Belfast production company, its short documentary Tit for Tatt, a film about cancer survivors who were tattooed on their surgical wounds, has also been listed to play at the Galway Film Fleadh on Sunday 16 July.

Director and Producer of Tit for Tatt, Mairéad Ní Threinir said:

“Getting a film listed at the Galway Film Fleadh is a dream come true for any filmmaker. The festival showcases the best in filmmaking talent from around the world and it is a real honour to be able to bring the story of Sabrina, Nina and other cancer survivors to such a wide audience.

“Their story is an inspirational and uplifting one for cancer survivors who have been through the wars but are still standing and still fighting. I know they will inspire others when the film is shown in Galway next week.”

Watch Trailer here: 

Press Release 12.07.2017: Scannán Feirsteach ROCKY ROS MUC le heisiúint i Meiriceá

Tá scannán a stiúraigh agus a léirigh an comhlacht léiriúcháin Feirsteach Below the Radar le heisiúint sna Stáit Aontaithe agus beidh deis aige cáiliú do na Academy Awards 2018 – an chéad uair ariamh do scannán faisnéise Gaeilge.

Bhí an première domhanda de ROCKY ROS MUC i mBostún i mí an Mhárta agus beidh chéad taibhiú na hÉireann ag Fleadh Scannán na Gaillimhe anocht. Tá na ticéidí don taispeántas seo i nGaillimh díolta amach cheana féin.

Rinneadh an scannán faisnéise i gcomhar le TG4, Údarás Craolacháin na hÉireann, Bord Scannán na hÉireann, Ciste Craoltóireachta Gaeilge Scáileáin Thuaisceart Éireann agus MG Alba.

Seán Ó Mainnín

Seán Ó Mainnín

Ansin san fhómhar, beidh an scannán á thaispeáint sna hamharclanna i Nua-Eabhrac agus LA, rud a chiallaíonn gur féidir leis an scannán bheith iomaíocht chun áit a fháil ar ghearrliosta na nOscar ag na Academy Awards 2018.    

Tá pleananna ar na bacáin fosta leis an scannán a chur sna hamharclanna in Éirinn, thuaidh agus theas, níos moille sa bhliain.        

Is scannán é ROCKY ROS MUC a dhéanann cur síos ar shaol an Ghaillimhigh, Seán Ó Mainnín, dornalaí den chéad scoth a d’fhág Gaeltacht Ros Muc sna 1970í le aghaidh a thabhairt ar Bhostún. 

Scrúdaíonn an scannán an spiorad a bhain le bheith ag troid sa chró mar dhornálaí gairmiúil agus an saol a bhí ag an Mhainníneach lasmuigh de chomh maith - bhí a chuid céilí speárála sa ghiom ag croílár dhrong Whitey Bulger agus domhan na coiriúlachta. 

Dúirt Eagarthóir Coimisiúnaithe TG4, Proinsias Ní Ghráinne

“Is cruthúnas é an socrú dáiliúcháin amharclainne seo do Rocky Rosmuc ar an ardchaighdeán atá ag baint leis.  Is sampla iontach é an saothar substaintiúil seo ar thiomantas leanúnach TG4 do scéalta láidre a bhaineann le daoine agus a bhfuil uaillmhian agus scóp sa léiriú ag baint leo, saothair a oibríonn ar gach uile ardán sa bhaile agus thar sáile.

Táimid ag súil lena chéad-chraoladh ar TG4 ar an bhliain seo chugainn agus muid cinnte go mbíonn éileamh domhanda ar an scéal áitiúil atá léirithe le scil agus le croí.”

Arsa James Hickey, Príomhfheidhmeannach, Bord Scannán na hÉireann

“Tá lúchair orainn gur thacaigh muid leis an scannán cumhachtach Gaeilge seo atá ina chéad scannán faisnéise de chuid Michael Fanning, stiúrthóir atá muid ag súil le bheith ag obair leis arís eile sa todhchaí.  Tá muid cinnte de go rachaidh an scannán i bhfeidhm ar lucht féachana náisiúnta agus idirnáisiúnta mar aon nuair a thiocfaidh sé amach sna pictiúrlanna níos moille i mbliana. 

Arsa stiúrthóir an scannáin, Michael Fanning:

“Tá aischothú iontach faighte ag an scannán ó taispeánadh é don chéad uair i mBostún san Earrach.  Bhí mé ag iarraidh scéal Shéan Uí Mhainnín a chur os comhair an domhain mhóir agus tá muid iontach sásta go deo deis a fháil an scannán a thabhairt abhaile go hÉirinn, ar dtús go Gaillimh agus ansin go baile ducháis Shéain, Ros Muc – oíche thochtach a bheas ann, cinnte. 

Arsa stiúrthóir an scannáin, Michael Fanning

Arsa stiúrthóir an scannáin, Michael Fanning

“Is trí leabhar Rónáin Mhic Con Iomaire ‘Rocky Ros Muc’ a chuir mé eolas ar scéal an Mhainnínigh agus thaitin an scéal go mór liom.  Cé go raibh sé ar dhuine de na dornálaithe is fearr ar domhan, is fear umhal é Seán agus is scéal é a mbeidh an-spéis ag an lucht féachana ann, sílim. 

Tá muid iontach bródúil go mbeidh an scannán seo le feiceáil anois ag daoine sna Stáit Aontaithe. Is ardú meanman don fhoireann ar fad é fosta go mbeidh an scannán cáilithe do na hOscars ar an bhliain seo chugainn. Tá muid ag súil go mór le haischothú mhuintir na hÉireann a chluinstin an tseachtain seo i nGaillimh.

Arsa Ceannasaí Chiste Craoltóireachta Gaeilge Scáileáin Thuaisceart Éireann, Áine Walsh, a thug maoiniú don togra:

“Tá lúcháir mhór orainn go mbeidh Rocky Ros Muc á chraoladh do lucht féachana i SAM. Is clár faisnéise é a léiríodh go bláfar agus a théann i ngleic le téama uilíoch na himirce agus tá lucht féachana leathan ag dul dó dá réir. Cuirfidh an deis seo le próifíl Below The Radar, comhlacht a bhfuil cáil iontach air ó thaobh léiriúcháin Ghaeilge de, agus cuirfear le próifíl na hearnála léiriúcháin Gaeilge i gcointinne chomh maith,

Tá seo ag teacht le straitéis Scáileáin Thuaisceart Éireann chun ábhar áitiúil a chur chun cinn do lucht féachana idirnáisiúnta freisin.”

Agus dea-scéal eile don chomhlacht léiriúcháin, ná gur roghnaíodh gearrscannán dá gcuid ‘Tit for Tatt’, scannán faoi mharthanóirí ailse a fuair tattoo ar a gcuid coilm máinliachta, le taispeáint ag Fleadh Scannán na Gaillimhe fosta ar an Domhnach 16 Iúil.

Arsa stiúrthóir agus léiritheoir ‘Tit for Tatt’, Mairéad Ní Threinir:

“Is ábhar lúcháir é do dhéantóir scannán ar bith scannán s’acu a fháil isteach go Fleadh Scannán na Gaillimhe.  Bíonn scannáin d’ardchaighdeán ó achan chearn den domhan á dtaispeáint mar chuid den fhleadh agus is onóir mhór é scéal Sabrina, Nina agus na marthanóirí eile a thaispeáint do lucht féachana níos leithne.

Is scéal spreagúil croíúil é seo faoi mhná a d’fhuilling ailse ach atá tagtha amach an taobh eile.  Sílim go dtabharfaidh siad inspioráid do dhaoine atá ag dul tríd an rud céanna nuair a fheiceann siad an scannán i nGaillimh ar an Domhnach.


NI Insurance chief says proactive management of credit risk essential as Brexit negotiations kick off

The Head of Trade Credit Brokers in Northern Ireland, told a business audience today in Belfast that the uncertainty around Brexit can be controlled with proactive risk management.

Addressing the Chartered Institute of Credit Management event (the professional body for credit management professionals), Nigel Birney, Head of Trade Credit and Political Risks for Northern Ireland, stated that the rise in demand for credit insurance has been significant as the economic uncertainty triggered by the UK’s exit from the European Union has started to take hold.

Credit Risk Warning: Nigel Birney, Trade Credit Brokers

Credit Risk Warning: Nigel Birney, Trade Credit Brokers

Nigel Birney, Head of Trade Credit and Political Risks for NI, Trade Credit Brokers:

“Business in the UK is likely to see an increased level of insolvency, losses and projects put on hold as trade credit risks are exacerbated by Brexit.”

“Getting paid on time, and getting paid what you expect to get paid when you enter into a contract can be difficult at the best of times, however, with the added complexity of our future relationship with the EU still unknown, a plan needs to be put in place.”

“Brexit negotiations have now kicked off and we should expect to see increased apprehension as businesses try to stay ahead of the game and ensure that there is as little risk to their day to day trading as possible. A key component of that plan should be trade credit, which provides an opportunity for continued growth in uncertain times.” 

“Credit insurance, provides vital protection to businesses against the impact of bad debt, caused by the failure of customers to pay for goods or services sold on credit, and is now an essential component for businesses seeking to manage risk proactively.”