Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1


Mockingjay is the third instalment of the smash hit franchise Hunger Games.

Mockingjay begins in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic end of Catching Fire. After Katniss strikes the surface of the dome covering the games, rebels from District 13 rescue Katniss and another contestant Finnick Odair.

We quickly learn, contrary to what the Capitol has said, District 13 still exists and has most of the planets military arsenal. As the film unfolds, we learn that after the war which brought about the Hunger Games, there was a secret settlement between the Capitol and District 13 in order to stop extinction of the human race.

The viewer also learns that Alma Coin is District 13’s president and has been seeking a symbol to lead the rebel uprising, and she believes Katniss is that symbol.

Katnis is unsure at first if she can full fill what District 13 wants her to do, and is apprehensive about being used as a symbol. However, after returning to her home district which has been completely inilated by the capitols air force the films hero begins to believe in the fight and the cause.

Both Katnis and Peta are being used as propaganda tools by their respective side. A film crew made up of disgruntled Capitol residents follow Katnis in her day to day pursuits. On the Capitol side, Peta appears in interviews sporadically broadcast to the entire nation. In these interviews Peta begs Katnis and the rebels to stop their uprising.

Katnis is captured singing the Mockingjay song after witnessing the devastating effects of a Capitol attack, which becomes a rebel anthem. Petas’ appearance gradually deteriorates in each interview, and in the final interview he looks very distressed, but still manages to warn District 13 off an immediate attack.

The film’s final sequence centres on the rebels attempt to rescue Peta from the Capitol. The rebels manage to enter the capitol seemingly undetected and get Peta. But in a broadcast between Katnis and President Snow, the rebels learn that their exploits have been uncovered, but strangely they succeed.

Peta and Katnis are reunited in the final sequence of the film, with Katnis embracing her Games partner. Peta suddenly tries to strangle Katnis and is only stopped by Haymitch Abernathy and the film ends. The final part of the franchise Mockingjay: Part 2 is due to be released later this year.

Ulster manage to hold on in Galway

Ulster scored five tries in Galway, as they put provincial rivals Connacht to the sword.

In front of a sold out Sports ground, Ulster maintained second place in the Pro 12, for a couple of hours at least, with a convincing win over Connacht.

Ulster aided by some of their returning Irish internationals scored three tries without reply in the first half, to lead 17 nil at half time. Louis Ludik, and Craig Gilroy all crossed the white wash, with Paddy Jackson pulling the strings in midfield.

Connacht with the aid of a strong breeze and some lax Ulster tackling, scored the first try in the second half. Irish international winger Matt Healy got the westerners back in the game with a fine individual try. Miah Nikora added the conversion and a further penalty to cut the deficit to 17-10.

Ulster immediately replied and extended their lead, when Lions wing Tommy Bowe went over for his second try of the game.  Ruan Pinearr, who seemed to leave his kicking boots at Ravenhill, missed his third conversion from his fourth attempt. Jack Carty then added another Connaught penalty, to keep the score board ticking over and leave Connacht 22-10 down.

Ulster’s relentless work at the breakdown eventually paid dividend. From a driving maul Ulster managed to bundle Rory Best over for his first and Ulster’s fifth try of the day. Pienarr missed the conversion, to leave the away side 27-10 up.

Connacht didn’t give up and after some good work from the forwards, the ball was spread to fullback Tiernan O’Halloran who sprinted over to score Connacht’s second try of the match. Carty kicked the conversion and with just ten minutes to go, Connacht where only a converted try away from drawing the match.

Ulster managed to hang on for a bonus point win and move up to second place in table and into one of the home semi-final spots. Connacht get a losing bonus point, which may turn out to be invaluable in order to finish in one of the automatic Champions Cup positions in the league.

Connacht have a tough run in, facing Glasgow, Ospreys and Zebre in their final three games. Ulster also have a tricky end of season fixture list, having to play Leinster, Munster and Glasgow in the final rounds of the league.




Chris Henry makes his return to a roaring crowd

Chris Henry was the star of the show on Friday night as he made his return to the field. After suffering a mini stroke back in November, it was debatable as to whether he would ever make his return in an Ulster jersey. So in the 58th minute as cheers rang through the Kingspan Stadium, Henry ran onto home ground in an emotional and memorable return to a winning Ulster team.

Chris Henry making his return to the Ulster squad on Friday night
Chris Henry making his return to the Ulster squad on Friday night

The Ulster boys got off to a flying start with Craig Kilroy scoring the first try of the game in the 3rd minute and a conversion giving them a 7 point lead. Ruan Pienaar scored a penalty in the 14th minute followed by Louis Ludik scoring a try. Another penalty for No.9, Pienaar changed the score 18-nill to Ulster in the 30th minute. The first threat came from the Cardiff Blues in the 33rd minute with a foul against Ulster.

The first half of play was halted from 25mins due to injuries. Ulster’s Stuart Olding was stretchered off just four minutes into play with a knee injury. Rhys Pachell, a Cardiff Blue player was later stretchered off with a head injury, for which Nick Williams was handed a yellow card to the dismay of the Cardiff side.

However, the second half got off to a flying start with Cardiff closing the point gap to just four points in the 62nd minute, with a score of 21-17 to Ulster. Ruan Pienaar continued on his winning strike by scoring a penalty before being replaced. Cardiff held onto the ball well in the 67th and 68th minute before another highlight of the game which came from Louis Ludik in the 72nd minute with a magical try as he breezed through Cardiff Blue’s defence.

The final point in the game came from Paul Marshall and was converted by Ian Humphreys taking the final score to 36-17 for a bonus point victory. Ulster succeeded in gaining another five points and in the Guinness Pro12 league. Ulster now take on Connacht on Saturday 11th April.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 16.56.27
Guinness Pro 12 league table


‘Dancing on the Ceiling’, ‘All Night Long’

Last night Lionel Richie took the Odyssey by storm. After three years, he made his return to Northern Irish soil. Opening with All Around the World, Lionel took the audience on a journey, transcending the generations making up the buzzing audience.

At one point in the show he described how there are three types of fans. The Commodore fans, the Lionel fans, accompanied by, Stuck on You. And finally, the generation which was brought along by their mothers. This is the generation in which I fell into on the night.

At first, the thought of going to a Lionel Richie concert, stumped me, I only knew a handful of songs but did I enjoy it despite this? Of course. His on-stage persona got everyone on their feet from the camaraderie with the audience and his energetic performance it all added to his live presence, which made for a truly enjoyable evening.

Last night my ears were tainted with reminisces of how many times  “we danced to that song” or unfortunately, “cried to that song” from my mum and godmother who have been friends for 40 years. It was obvious that the older generation lived their lives through his music as there was a song suited to every emotion.

Lionel Richie was himself, very aware of the different stages in the life of his fans that he touched: “when I was in love, you were in love. When I was sad, you were sad and when I was angry, you were angry”. The comical sentiment that he exuded leant a great element to his performance. Spanning from his hits, Three Times a Lady to Hello and Dancing on the Ceiling. The latter, was a veritable crowd pleaser; everyone got on their feet and sang their hearts out, almost drowning out Lionel’s own voice.

Writing this piece I can feel the excitement brewing inside me again as I remember last night. For a man who has been preforming for many a year, there was no sign of age slowing him down as he ran across the stage encouraging audience participation, just to note, not much encouragement was needed.


Lionel Richie’s personality shown through each performance and the sincere gratitude he has for the support of his fans throughout the years was tangible.

Lionel still has a few dates left on his tour so get your tickets on Ticketmaster, quick.

Super Councils for Dummies

The reform of local government in Northern Ireland sees the replacement of the 26 districts created in 1973 with a smaller number of super districts.

The review process began in 2002 with proposals for either seven or 11 districts made before it was suspended in 2010. On March 12 2012 the Northern Ireland Executive published its programme for government which included a commitment to reduce the number of councils in Northern Ireland to 11. The first elections were on May 22 2014.

From April 1 2015 the new councils took over. The new councils provide the same services as previous councils however they have a number of new powers and responsibilities which are outlined in the table below.


· Local development plan functions

· Development control and enforcement


· Off-street parking
Local economic development

· Start a Business Programme and Enterprise Shows

· Youth entrepreneurship (such as Prince’s Trust and Shell Livewire)

· Social entrepreneurship

· Investing for Women

· Neighbourhood renewal funding relating to enterprises initiatives

Local Tourism

· Small-scale tourism accommodation development

· Providing business support including business start-up advice, along with training and delivery of customer care schemes

· Providing advice to developers on tourism policies and related issues


· Small-scale tourism accommodation development

· Providing business support including business start-up advice, along with training and delivery of customer care schemes

· Providing advice to developers on tourism policies and related issues

Urban regeneration and community development

· Small-scale tourism accommodation development

· Providing business support including business start-up advice, along with training and delivery of customer care schemes

· Providing advice to developers on tourism policies and related issues

Other services

· Small-scale tourism accommodation development

· Providing business support including business start-up advice, along with training and delivery of customer care schemes

· Providing advice to developers on tourism policies and related issues

There are two overriding key benefits to the reform of councils in Northern Ireland.

1. Improved service provision

Councils are being given new responsibilities and a broader range of powers. Combined with partnership working with other Departments and agencies operating in their areas, this will make councils stronger, more effective and flexible to local need. They will be able to better co-ordinate service delivery and avoid duplication, leading to more efficient, high quality services.

2. Long-term cost savings

The potential long term financial benefits are substantial as amalgamating 26 councils into 11 brings with it economies of scale. The costs and benefits of reform are currently being examined to take account of the 2015 programme timetable, the sector’s Improvement, Collaboration and Efficiency proposals and the current economic climate in which reform is now being taken forward.

Councillors have been reduced in number from 582 to 462, each receiving an allowance of £14,200 a year. Those members who hold office such as mayor, deputy mayor or committee chair will also receive a special responsibility allowance.

The following table outlines the new council areas, their location and their electorate.




Fermanagh and Omagh

All of Co. Fermanagh and parts of TyroneBorders Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan

Electorate of 74,414

Derry and Strabane

Includes Co. Londonderry and Tyrone

Borders Co. Donegal

Electorate of 92,593

Mid Ulster

Includes part of Co. Londonderry, Tyrone and Armagh

Borders Monaghan

Electorate of 86,591

Causeway Coast and Glens

Includes part of Co. Antrim and Londonderry Electorate of 88,654

Mid and East Antrim

Part of Co. Antrim

Electorate of 89,832

Antrim and Newtownabbey

Part of Co. Antrim

Electorate of 84,996


Belfast City

Electorate of 323,567

Lisburn and Castlereagh

Many of the outer suburbs of Belfast

Electorate of 83,369

North Down and Ards


Ards Peninsula, most of Stangford lough and the southern shore of Belfast Lough

Electorate of 102,313

Newry, Mourne and Down


Includes Southern Co. Armagh and Co. DownBorders Co. Louth and Monaghan Electorate of 107,233
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Includes parts of Co. Armagh and Down

Electorate 124,996

Map showing the 26 old  local government districts in Northern Ireland
Map showing the 11 new local government districts in Northern Ireland
Map showing the 11 new local government districts in Northern Ireland
Map showing the existing and new local government districts in Northern Ireland
Map showing the existing and new local government districts in Northern Ireland

If you are unsure as to your new council area and electoral ward, enter your postcode here.

There are fears over minority communities in the new council areas as Stormont’s two main power blocs tighten their grip on local government.

Ten out of the 11 new super councils are dominated either by unionists or nationalists consolidating the green and orange politics of the province. This has given rise to fears that local level politics could cement the divisions which have been evident at Stormont.

Belfast is the only council which remains ‘hung’ where Alliance holds the balance of power between unionists and nationalists.

David Ford, Alliance MLA has said, “As the new councils will have more responsibilities, it is imperative that councillors move beyond the orange and green tribal politics and towards a more inclusive style of governing,”

“Councillors must work together to deliver the best possible services for ratepayers, and council positions must be fairly distributed.”

Arnold Hatch, President of the umbrella councils body, the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), said: “The large parties tend to dominate, whether it’s the west of the province with Sinn Fein or the east of the province with the DUP. That has been the case.

“But at the same time 99% of the decisions which councils have to take are done on a consensual basis and my firm belief is that if councils are given real responsibilities they will knuckle down to that work and these petty arguments over positions will diminish.”

Bill White, chair of polling organisation LucidTalk, said: “I think it is arguable that the boundaries for the new Belfast council were designed in such a way to ensure it would remain a hung council – as predicted by ourselves and many others.

“I think the hope was that there would be more hung councils, in Causeway Coast and Glens, for example, and Mid and East Antrim, but that has not turned out to be the case.”

An interactive map highlighting the difference between the old and new council areas can be found here.

QUB SWOT Fashion Show 2015 a Massive Hit

On the 9th March the annual SWOT Fashion Show took place in the Whitla Hall, in Belfast.

Students Working Overseas Trust is a charitable society run by fourth year medics at Queen’s University Belfast. The students raise funds and take them to the third world when they travel to work overseas during their six weeks summer elective.

The show featured music, dance routines, on-trend fashion, raffle prizes and an auction including tickets to see One Direction. The hosts were Shane Todd AKA Mike McGoldrick and the queen of UTV, Pamela Ballantine.

Pamela Ballantine and Mike McGoldrick

I was so lucky to be there as I left getting my ticket until the last minute, meaning there were none left! My better half did a bit of sweet talking and eyelash fluttering to the organisers and I had a ticket!

As it really wasn’t my boyfriend’s scene and he was snowed under with work, I had to bite the bullet and go alone. I was doing my best “air of confidence” impression until I couldn’t find a seat and had to walk around stopping occasionally to ask “is this seat taken?” Eventually I found space beside a lovely couple who took me under their wing and I could relax.

The event was outstanding and it’s not just me who thinks so! The show won Charity Event of the Year in the Union of Students in Ireland Awards.

Union of Students in Ireland Awards, SWOT Fashion Show wins Charity Event of the Year 2015

The student medics had been juggling rehearsals, placement, lectures and exams since October and it was clear to see the time and dedication they had put in. I can honestly say that the hard work definitely paid off!

The lectures threw some shapes on the catwalk and rugby boys took on GAA boys in a topless dance off. The interval was filled with tasty treats that the medics had baked and there was more than just tea and coffee on offer for those who fancied something stronger to set them up for the after party at the Speakeasy.

The rugby boys take on the GAA boys

The event raised an incredible £32,533 and this coupled with other fundraising efforts will undoubtedly make a huge difference to the wellbeing of individuals overseas.

I am already looking forward to next year’s show and will definitely make sure I get my ticket early. I strongly recommend you do the same!

Review: Loosing with Lipotrim


With summer approaching many of us will be trying every weight loss method from Atkins to Zumba.

Despite good intentions if you left it until the last few weeks of your holiday countdown can a liquid diet really help you shed the pounds with minimal effort?

One such diet available at local pharmacists is the Lipotrim meal replacement. You can find your nearest supplier at

Under the programme you use the low intake of the Lipotrim programme in conjunction with a healthy low fat meal. The liquid diet is used to maintain weight following the complete Lipotrim replacement. It can however be used as a weight loss tool by reducing food intake and implementing replacements through Lipotrim products.

“The low GI helps reduce hunger pangs” says Pharmacist Michael Mc Auley. “I actually use the products to maintain my own weight” said Michael. Well, I thought if they are good enough for a pharmacist then they are good enough for me.

The cost was equal to what I would spend as a single person on a weekly shop.

Side effects included headaches or risk of homicide when my friends decided to eat in front of me. For five weeks I looked forward to  my forgiving morsel of salad or Weetabix each day.  I was loosing weight but also my energy and happiness. After five short weeks I found myself on the edge of my goal weight. When I got there I could hardly believe it.

However like most liquid diets it is not long term. When I cycled to work and maintained a healthy diet the weight stayed off. When I relocated back to my parents complete with an on call taxi man also known as dad and a chef whose cookbook is a collection of takeaway pamphlets also known as mum I found the pounds piling on yet again.

Post diet i found myself loosing but not in the way i wanted. It seemed to me the diet was a short term fix and almost impossible to maintain the weight loss.

Kate moss may claim “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” but clearly she has never had to the ulster fry.

Rugby for Beginners

As a journalist we are told to experience everything, even sport, even rugby.

As a GAA based family including a grandfather who blessed himself at the word soccer, rugby was never on power. I knew the ball was egged, New Zealand had a team, and they had a dance ritual


After Belfast Royal Academy (BRA) drew with Bangor’s Regent House in the 2XV cup I was brought to the replay.

When I arrived at the grounds I was disappointed the New Zealand dancing was not part of this teams pre-match. I on the other hand was wiggling for warmth. One similarity stood out between all sports, the atmosphere was electric.

The match had a slow start but soon Belfast Royal Academy awoke with a Jack Forbes try. He then went for the conversion. Jack made use of a cone as he lost his kicking tee and SS Moore’s were closed, with little difference he successfully scored the conversion.  The first half had BRA in the lead with Regent house attempting to get hold of the game but they failed to keep the ball thanks to the efforts of Samuel Hamil who kicked for territory relieving pressure.

During the second half BRA struggled to keep the ball, but even then Regent could not score. Samuel kicked which resulted in an injury. He tried to play but the discomfort was clear. Samuel had a strong kick and each time Regent got the ball he got it back to BRA. With good or bad a few minutes later the ball came towards me. Although it could have been a small child at my feet as that would also cause confusion.

Alister Mc Gary said “BRA danced their way around the pitch to victory!” BRA won with an embarrassing defeat of 56-0 against regent house. I caught up with the recovered Samuel Hamil at the end of the match. He said “it was a brilliant match, we played well and hope we can keep up the standard for the rest of the season.”

Despite my lack of knowledge around the game I found the experience enjoyable and look forward to more matches, but I’ll leave the Sports enthusiasts to report them.

In the end Regent House suffered a huge 56-0 defeat.

Kendrick escapes the cocoon on iconic Butterfly

Lamar’s sophomore effort is a phenomenon

It’s been three years since Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city sent shockwaves around hip-hop bringing the Compton-based rapper to the mainstream.

We’ve anxiously heard of a drastically different sound and direction from his debut record.

But finally, Lamar’s second studio album To Pimp A Butterfly has been released and you can file it straight into “instant classic”.

The production of the album is crisp and moves away from the West Coast hip-hop-heavy good kid, m.A.A.d city. This was made clear from the range of producers which includes soul legend Ron Isley and jazz electric bass supremo Thundercat alongside rap icons Dr. Dre and Pharrell.

The cover art depicts a mob of black people who appear to have taken over the White House while the Speaker of the House of Congress lies dead.

It sets a tone for what this album promotes. In Lamar’s own words: “We need to find black leaders to stand up and represent. And that could be any man from the streets.”

From the first song “Wesley’s Theory”, the album adopts a rhythmic fusion of jazz, funk and hip-hop all set behind Lamar’s smooth rapping style.

He follows that song with the annoyingly catchy “King Kunta” – the third single to be released from the album.

“These Walls” and “Institutionalised” both feature the fantastic Anna Wise. Wise featured on Kendrick’s previous album and she provides a beautiful contrast on Butterfly with her soulful voice.

Kendrick delves into depression on “u”. It’s a harrowing song relating to family problems he had when he mother was unwell and his sister had a miscarriage.

It’s hard to listen to as the emotional pressures of trying to remain a strong family man becomes too much and he reverts to alcohol.

“The Blacker The Berry” is an angst-filled anthem, aimed at uniting black people to unite and stand up for their rights, contrary to the divisive nature in which Kendrick believes they currently live. The lyrics are piercing and provide a lot of thought.

It resonates strongly with the anti-police riots seen in Ferguson and most recently Baltimore, both following the killing of young black males by law enforcement.

He finishes with “Mortal Man”, finishing the poem he’s told throughout Butterfly, before asking hip-hop’s greatest ever influence on his views on the current state of black culture.

As the immortal Tupac Shakur responds, the listener is astounded. The track effectively holds a conversation between Kendrick and Tupac, using clips of interviews prior to his death in 1996. The message is as applicable then as it is today.

It’s a landmark moment and one which marks the passing of the torch to Kendrick as rap’s next great leader.


Staggering Student: Whats the rush?


It’s no secret that we students regularly enjoy a drink or three, despite being aware of the damaging effects on our health. Being a student myself I know first hand that the aim of the game when hitting the tiles is to get as drunk as possible before heading out, and even more when you get to the club. But when did drinking to have fun become drinking to get drunk? -Sasha Wylie reports

Health officials and concerned parents advise us not to mix drinks or to drink on an empty stomach. They don’t realise it’s exactly what we’ll do if it means getting very drunk, very quickly. The aim of the game is to get messy – at any student pre-drinks there will be at least someone who says: “I want to get absolutely smashed tonight.”

The NekNominate craze that infiltrated our Facebooks is a prime example of peer pressure among students leading to excessive drinking. While it may be a minority who take it too far by guzzling bottles of spirits, thousands of likes and shares on Facebook of NekNominates validate and actively encourage this behaviour.binge-drinking-photo-2

It’s worth asking why we students feel the need to drink so excessively. Being sick or thrown out of a club is no fun. And the mammoth hangover and loss of dignity the morning after just isn’t worth it. In an article below, student Claire Whittle, 25,  got breast cancer due to her student binge drinking.


Like many teenagers away from home for the first time, student Claire Whittle threw herself enthusiastically into the heavy drinking university social scene. What happened next, she believes, should serve as a warning to all young women.

At the age of 25 she was diagnosed with breast cancer although there was no family history of the disease. And she is convinced that alcohol was to blame.

Print ad for new alcohol awareness campaign

She says she has not touched alcohol since her diagnosis and is about to begin an MA at Middlesex University studying the effects of drugs and drink in society.

‘My oncologist actually said to me I mustn’t ever have another drink as it could raise the risk of my cancer returning,’ she says. ‘I only hope my story serves as a warning to any other young women who binge drink that it might be affecting your health in a way you might never have imagined.’


It’s true that we have fewer responsibilities as students, but we owe it to ourselves and our health to know where to draw the line.

A radical new project has been designed to tackle the culture of binge drinking at universities across England and Wales, launched by the government and National Union of Students.alcohol vectors 2 v3

Seven universities have signed up to a 12 month pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students.

Loughborough, Nottingham, Manchester Met, Liverpool John Moores, Swansea, Brighton and Royal Holloway universities are hoping to gain accreditation under the NUS Alcohol Impact Scheme for their work in promoting responsible alcohol policy and practice. They will aim to reduce alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder and prevent health harms.

If you are concerned that alcohol consumption may be affecting your health, ring Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.

Related articles can be found here and here