Social Media transformation for North West 200

Over the last number of years, social media sites have helped to raise the profile of sporting events.

A number of different sports have introduced ways that fans can keep up to date with events even when they cannot be in attendance. Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter have been hailed as the go to places in terms of information.

As the 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 approaches, Aaron O’Neill has been looking into the ways that social media have helped transform the event.  The following video gives us a little insight into how social media has helped the event.

 

 

 

 

Marquez on the victory march in Argentina.

With the 2017 MotoGP season getting underway, Round 2 of the Championship took place this weekend at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina.

Pre-race speculation suggested that three-time World Champion, Marc Marquez, was the man to beat around the 2.98 mile circuit. Marquez looked as though he was going to do the business after he put his Repsol Honda on Pole Position after Saturday’s qualifying session.

British hopeful, Cal Crutchlow, also qualified strongly as he finished up third on the grid heading into Sunday’s race. Crutchlow had previously had a taste of success at this event as he was a podium finisher in Argentina back in 2015 and was surely aiming to repeat this feat two years on.

After a lacklustre qualifying session, many of the so-called front-runners failed to capitalise and make it onto the first few rows of the grid. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and the eventual race winner, Maverick Viñales, struggled to come to grips with conditions in Argentina. A poor showing from the MotoGP stars resulted in them having to launch their attack from further down the field come Sunday’s race.

As the race got underway in dry conditions, Marquez looked like a man on a mission. He seemed to have re-gained his confidence after his spill in the morning warm-up. After 3 laps Marquez looked to be well away at the front after opening up a 2-second lead from Crutchlow in second.

Just when it looked like Marquez had it in the bag, disaster struck. The Spaniard crashed out of the lead at turn two leaving the door open for Crutchlow, Viñales and Rossi to battle it out for the podium positions. Honda team-mate and fellow countryman, Dani Pedrosa also crashed out of the race whilst in a steady fifth position. Both riders’ were critical of the new Michelin tyres indicating that a lack of temperature in the rear was the reason for them ending up in the gravel.

Some great battling between the front three saw Viñales make it two from two, to get his season off to the best possible start. Yamaha teammate, Valentino Rossi and Satellite Honda rider Cal Crutchlow completed the podium positions, finishing second and third respectively.

In a post race interview Viñales said, “It is great to get another win under my belt, my bike was working well and I hope this is a sign of things to come.”

Both Honda and Ducati struggled this weekend as Pedrosa, Marquez, Dovizioso and reigning world champion, Jorge Lorenzo all crashed out of the race.

At this early stage many people have indicated that the Yamaha boys will be hard to stop this season.

Round three of the Championship takes place in North America. Viñales will be searching for his hat-trick of wins in Texas.

However, the main question is, who can rain on his parade?

For all the latest MotoGP information please visit: www.motogp.com

Party profiling: Integrated education in Northern Ireland

With election day looming once more, many people will take the view; ‘they are all the same.’ This article will tackle this by looking at what the Northern Ireland parties’ stance is with regards to the future of education.

Schools in Northern Ireland currently come in three forms: State controlled schools, Catholic maintained schools and integrated schools.

Controlled schools are maintained and funded by the Education Authority, these schools are mostly serve the Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland. According to the Department of Education there are 560 controlled schools in Northern Ireland, making up around 48% of all the schools here.

Catholic maintained schools are controlled by the Council for Maintained Catholic Schools serving the Catholic denomination in the North. There are 466 Catholic maintained schools in Northern Ireland, serving 121,733 pupils, according to the Department of Education, this is around 37% of all pupils.

Integrated schools are controlled by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education working to ‘educate together children from both protestant and catholic traditions, as well as those of other faiths and none, in an inclusive, welcoming and aspiring environment.’ There are 62 grant-aided integrated schools serving 21,956 pupils, around 7 percent of total pupils in Northern Ireland’s education system.

Report from the Detail in 2015

The future of Northern Ireland’s education system has been much debated over the years, with some calling for a move towards a more inclusive integrated education, while others fighting for the status quo to remain. Here are the views of the main parties in Northern Ireland.

The DUP have been supportive of shared education and the Shared Education Bill, whereby schools of separate faiths could use a single campus. Their ultimate aim is to create a singular education sector, but they do not support integrated schools in their current form.

According to their Assembly manifesto for the election earlier this year Sinn Fein will continue ‘to encourage & facilitate the growth of… Integrated and Shared Education.’ However, they also support ‘parental preference – whether it be in the integrated, Catholic maintained, the controlled or Irish medium sectors.’

Similarly, Colin McGrath SDLP MLA for South Down has said, ‘I want to see an Educational system that has parental choice at its core. I feel that our system should be better integrated but also allow for parental choice.’

He was also quick to add, ‘We have the integrated Sector which is small but with over 50% of parents happy to let their children attend this sector, only 7-8% are actually doing so – there are obviously problems.’

The UUP’s manifesto calls for ‘a single education system, where children mix from age four… but which also protects a family’s right to education within a religious context.’ When contacted by Northern Ireland Humanists, the UUP added ‘Religious Education should remain taught in state schools, though school children should also be made aware that there are many different religions around the globe, as well as non- religious viewpoints.’

The Alliance party’s 2017 manifesto makes clear their support of integrated education. They believe “that every child should have the choice and option of attending an integrated school.” The manifesto states that the next Executive needs to make a commitment to integrated education and should set the target of 20% of children being educated in integrated schools within the next ten years. Alliance support the change because of its “educational, financial, economic and social benefits.”

These include:

  • Reducing the cost of maintaining around 70,000 empty school places.
  • Directing funding towards pupils rather than the maintenance of the school estate.
  • Allowing children to explore their identity and culture while learning about other identities.
  • Making it easier to improve the quality of education and, therefore, address inequalities.
Statistics from the Department of Educations 2016 report

The Green Party also supports a fully integrated education system in Northern Ireland, stating that the current system is “costly both in terms of finance and societal impact.” Their belief is that the segregation that exists is “unacceptable” and that the possibility of integration has been “wasted by those who seek to continue the status quo.”

According to their manifesto, People Before Profit, “wants to see: An integrated, all-ability education system” they believe that social and religious segregation is to blame for the huge gap in attainment between schools. They oppose what they call “the sham ‘shared education’ programme” which they believe reinforces segregation. The party claim that “all children—from the most academically able to those with learning disabilities—benefit from being educated in mixed-ability, socially-mixed schools.”

Cliodhna Scott-Wills, Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, refused any comment on the past achievements from previous education ministries, but said that she looks forward to work with the newly formed Assembly.

Ms Scott-Wills praised the work that has been done previous as integrated education has began to grow in Northern Ireland and become more “mainstream”.

 

 

 

 

Review: Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson made his directing return this year with Hacksaw Ridge, a war movie about a pacifist, this level of contradiction was surely worth a watch.

This movie goes some way towards repairing the damage of Gibson’s previous slurs and misdemeanors.

Gibson’s return marks ten years out of the director chair and when asked why he took up this project he replied Hacksaw Ridge is a “story well worth telling…..it’s a war film but it’s beyond that, it’s a love story,”.

The level of contrast between the love story on the homefront and the gore of  heated battle assures that this is a movie for all.

The movie traces the true story of war hero Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield,  as he battles with his religious conscience and his determination to be involved in the war.

Andrew Garfield as war pacifist Desmond Doss

Andrew Garfield plays the role with dignity and strength, armed with a great southern accent the former Spidey really paints the character perfectly.

The appearance of Vince Vaughan as sergeant Howell also adds a level of comic affect in the multifaceted movie.

Mr Vaughn plays the leader of Doss’s ragtag division, his display as hard love preparing the recruits for battle is both hilarious and real.

Doss’s love interest and later wife Dorothy Shutte is played by Aussie actress Teresa Palmer.

Ms Palmer puts in an emotional and gripping performance a far cry from that in the remake flop of Point Break in 2015.

It was a brave decision by Mr Gibson to make such a film of such contrast and conflict, from war to romance to comedy, so much various in genre……

But some how it works, from the loved up whirlwind story on the homefront to all to real scenes of blood and gore.

This movie is most certainly going to be added into the arsenal of war greats beside Saving Private Ryan and Platoon, even if it did not get this recognition at the Oscar’s with La La Land stealing the show.

No Petition of Concern? What Does This Mean for Same-Sex Marriage?

 

The recent UK general elections has sparked interest nationwide over the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. (DUP)

Since the Conservative Party won the general election but did not win enough seats to meet an overall majority. Therefore, Theresa May’s options were limited to making a deal with another party to form a minority government. May chose the DUP, who won 10 seats in the general election.

The DUP are a renowned centre-right wing unionist political party in Northern Ireland. Much of their beliefs have been addressed in national news, especially that of their views on Same-Sex Marriage.

Northern Ireland is the only country in the United Kingdom that does not acknowledge same-sex marriage (it is treated as a civil partnership) and it is illegal. The most interesting fact about this is, prior to the March 2017 Northern Ireland Assembly Elections, First Minister and Leader of the DUP Arlene Foster stated that the Democratic Unionist Party would continue to use a petition of concern to block any bill which would legalise same-sex marriage. So, the petition of concern is being used in Northern Ireland by political parties to allow their ideologies to take shape in law and onto the people of Northern Ireland.

The DUP are the leading party of Northern Ireland, although since the March Elections they were unable to keep their overall majority of 30 seats, only reaching 28. Therefore, they can no longer use the petition of concern to block anything they find noxious.

Same-sex marriage, in Northern Ireland, has been debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly five times, since 2012. The first four times, it was a minority that voted for the legalisation of same-sex marriages. But, in the most recent vote (November 2015) a majority of MLA’s voted in favour of same-sex marriage. Therefore, it is clear that Northern Ireland, as a whole, were and are ready to legalise this.

Alliance Party’s North Down representative Mr Andrew Muir MLA was the first openly gay mayor in Northern Ireland, and he believes that same-sex marriage is needed to build a better future for Northern Ireland. He stated that civil marriage “helps build a modern, inclusive, open and welcoming society which values everyone.

 

When Muir was asked how he felt about the way in which the petition of concern was used, he commented, “I am extremely frustrated to see the Petition of Concern abused to stop Equal Marriage becoming law in Northern Ireland…The Petition of Concern was designed to protect minorities but is instead being used to deny a minority right to Civil Marriage which threatens no-one.”

In contrast there are many people in Northern Ireland who do not agree with Andrew Muir, and believe same-sex marriage is still wrong. In an attempt to get a comment from any Unionist Party representatives, nothing came of it. So, we spoke to a DUP voter, Patricia Agnew (71) from Bangor. She remarked that same-sex marriage was “un-holy and unnecessary in Northern Ireland”. She added, “There are more important things to worry about than if a man and another man can put rings on their fingers, it’s a disgrace that so much time has been wasted trying to make something of this nonsense.”

With regards to Mrs Agnew’s comments, the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin have apparently stated that a ban on same-sex marriage is a ‘red line’ in the country’s ongoing power-sharing talks. Highlighting that same-sex marriage is one of the main reasons why Northern Ireland cannot structure a functioning government in a fair time period.

Now, in light of the recent general elections more people are understanding, or claiming to understand why Northern Ireland cannot legalise same-sex marriage in line with the rest of the United Kingdom. This has sparked a new match on the issues faced in this country and members of LGBTQ communities are starting to come together and fight for their rights. On July 1st, a protest march will be held in Belfast by Love Equality Coalition, a campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. The campaign is led by Amnesty International, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Cara-Friend, The Rainbow Project, NUS-USI and HereNI. The march has been organised in the wake of the general elections and the likely parliamentary deal with the minority Tory government, as they seek to put pressure on the DUP to change its views now that they are being scrutinised by the rest of the UK.

The DUP still believe in a “traditional” marriage that does not include same-sex marriage, but are they living in the past? Like Muir said, “civil marriage…threatens no-one.” Or are the Democratic Unionist Party doing the right thing as Mrs Agnew stated, “There are more important things to be worrying about”?

But, now that the DUP have no political power to veto same-sex marriage there is a chance that Northern Ireland will follow the lead of every other country in the United Kingdom and make same-sex marriage legal, that is, if the DUP do not find another way to stop this.

For more information visit:

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/03/06/unionists-could-make-pact-to-keep-blocking-equal-marriage-in-northern-ireland/

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/survey-shows-70-support-for-samesex-marriages-in-northern-ireland-34842125.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_Kingdom

 

Puppies Visit Ulster University Coleraine Campus to Calm Students During Exam Season.

The Causeway Coast Dog Rescue Service visited Ulster University’s Coleraine Campus to offer up some stress relief with a bundle of puppies for the students to cuddle. The idea was thought up by Ulster University Student’s Union where similar events are happening across the campuses. This is the second time the puppy’s have come for a visit and it is one of the most popular events on the University’s calendar.

The students are able to come to a room in the campus to talk to the rescue team and meet the wonderful puppy’s from the rescue centre. The aim is to show young people how important it is to be responsible when adopting or buying a dog. As all of the puppies brought to the Coleraine Campus have been rescued by the Causeway Team. The team are hoping that these event’s will help people to see how major an issue animal abuse is in Northern Ireland.

General Election Preview with the DUP

Ahead of Thursday’s General Election, the Democratic Unionist Party has urged the public ‘to use their franchise and vote.’

The people of Northern Ireland are still pondering who is the best person to lead the country forward and restore a sense of routine, ahead of Thursday’s vote.

Politicians have made no bones about the amount of effort they put into their campaigns coming up to elections. East Londonderry DUP MLA Maurice Bradley has been heavily involved in the election campaign, for fellow DUP party member, Gregory Campbell.

Bradley said, “There is a lot of organising behind the scenes for an election and a lot of preparation. Over 22,000 leaflets had to be canvased around the doorsteps. Therefore, it has been a busy time for the DUP in the local area.

The East Londonderry MLA continued, “It has been a busy time for the local DUP office in Coleraine ahead of Thursday’s election.

“Once the announcement came about that another election was happening, literature had to be printed and a canvas organised. Prior to the announcement, we had been working hard and organising Voter Registration events, which had been set up in local areas such as Macosquin, Coleraine Town, Ballysally, Garvagh and Millburn.”

The DUP have constantly been reiterating the point to encourage as many people to vote as possible and Bradley thinks that this is, ‘a necessary approach.’

He said, “As a party, our reason for running our registration campaign was to ensure that we got as many people on the register as possible in order to maintain their a voice in Northern Ireland. In this game, we all know that bad politicians find a way in because good people, who do not vote, elect bad politicians.”

It has been well documented over the last number of months the unrest which is currently being experienced within the Northern Ireland executive, with the Renewable Heating Initiative scandal being viewed as the final straw, by some of the political parties, who call for a change.

East Londonderry DUP MLA, Maurice Bradley, has said that the outcome of the RHI scandal may not have been the sole reason for the start of the unrest in government. ‘People recognise that RHI was not what collapsed the government, rather the excuse used to collapse the government.’

Bradley suggested that the media have questions to answer following the collapse of the Stormont executive, indicating that they are ‘partly to blame,’ for the recent events.

The local politician said, “The techniques of media personnel have been inappropriate. Many journalists badger DUP representatives, barely giving them time to answer any questions, whilst allowing time and space for other panel members to provide answers without being. The public have caught this technique on and it has backfired on the media.”

One of the main underlying issues is the thinking that the General Election may not resolve any issues here in Northern Ireland. The electorate have an overall feeling of anxiety ahead of Thursday’s election. One voter has said that the current state of affairs is the, ‘worst state of affairs in years.’

Lindsay O’Neill, a local business owner said, “I just hope that we can get back on our feet after the election results come out. Over the past few months, we have been thrown from pillar to post and we don’t really know what is going on, we don’t have any answers. RHI and Brexit are massive factors talked about all the time, but I would like to see this left behind and begin to move forward and worry about sorting our own matters out.”

The ideology of Direct Rule is something that has been rumoured since the collapse of the Stormont Executive and Bradley reiterated this point. He said. “It remains to be seen. Certainly if there is no agreement, we are looking at a period of Direct Rule in some form or another.”

Therefore, with Thursday’s General Election rapidly approaching it is crunch-time for Politicians on a local and national level. Voters can place their vote from 7am to 10pm on Thursday, with election counts set to continue all through the night. At this stage, there is no set time for results to come through. It is merely a case of waiting and whatever will be, will be.

For more information about the DUP click here: http://www.mydup.com/

Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

 

Beauty and the Beast’s heroine Belle was played by modern feminist Emma Watson.

It may be a ‘Tale as old as time’ but Bill Condon’s remake of the 26 year old fairy-tale film was refreshingly modern, feel good and unforced.

The film is set in a picture-book French village during the 1780s. Beauty and the Beast’s heroine Belle was played by modern feminist Emma Watson. Watson’s character was clever and bookishness with a perfect balance of strong will and innocence.

Dan Stevens plays the enraged Beast whose charm seeps through from very early on in the film. Stevens adequately portrays his characters bitterness with undertones of frustration and sadness.

Gaston, the self loving bully is played by Luke Evans however it is his sidekick the smitten Le Fou played by Josh Gad who steals the show. McGregor and McKellan also work well together as the hilarious and odd duo Lumiere and Cogsworth.

The story follows a young prince – Dan Stevens – who refuses to help an old beggar lady when she arrives to his castle. The woman warns the prince not to be deceived by looks before transforming herself into a beautiful enchantress.

She puts a spell on the prince turning him into a beast and the castle’s inhabitants into furniture. The Beast must find love before all the petals from a magical rose have dropped.

The film pulls out all the stops in its ballroom scenes and most of all in the Be our Guest dinner sequence which can only be described as a “choreographic extravaganza”.

The movie highpoint reminds the viewers of Disney’s successful and magical history in cinematic craft. Throughout the film the frolicking furniture brings life and laughter to the audience during even the darkest of moments.

Overall, the live action/digital hybrid film was joyful and enchanting. Writer’s Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos skilfully modernised the story without eliminating all the features we fell in love with as children.

Those who predicted the film would not hold a “talking candle” to the original will be pleasantly surprised.

See alternative reviews at : https://arstechnica.co.uk/the-multiverse/2017/03/beauty-and-the-beast-2017-review/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/mar/19/beauty-and-the-beast-review-undeniably-arresting-emma-watson-josh-gad-bill-condon

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/0/beauty-beast-review-emma-watson-dazzles-disneys-show-stopping/

Out & About mentoring for LGBTQ women

Out & About mentoring for LGBTQ women

As public opinion towards the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland continues to positively grow Dr Gail Neill tells Nikki McKeown how its not all what it seems and how we are politically lagging behind the rest of UK.

LGBTQ rights in Northern Ireland continue to be the least advanced in the UK and although the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland is now more visible than ever young people are experiencing isolation within society and even within their own families.

Dr Gail Neill explains The Out & About program will provide free one on one mentoring for 30 young women a year.

At this time Youth Action Northern Ireland has extended their Out & About mentoring programme to LGBTQ women aged 16-25. This programme is based on having an informal, supportive relationship with a youth worker and the benefits that can arise from this.

Out and About is a personal development programme and a support space for young women who want to get information and advice outside of the gay scene.

It gives young women the chance to find out more about their gender, sexual orientation, their rights and to meet other young people in a safe space.

“We work to try and include the most marginalized women within society to ensure that those who are most often overlooked- their voices are heard”, explains Programme Co-ordinator Dr Gail Neill.

“There is definitely a need for a space like this for young women” says Gail. “On one hand things are changing very positively in Northern Ireland – a recent poll showed that 70% of people were in favour of equality marriage”.

“All this makes it feel like things are fine yet on the other hand in NI- there are still high levels of LGBTQ hate crimes that go unreported. Politically we are lagging behind the rest of the UK continuously using religious discourse for politicians to deny or stall a way forward.”

Three years of funding has been given to Youth Action by the Esmee Fairbairn foundation and this will allow 30 young women a year to go through the programme.

Young LGBTQ women can access one to one sessions where they can seek support to identify and overcome personal barriers they are facing.

One of the young people availing from the programme is a girl from a very rural area, she has just recently ‘came out’ and her first action point is simple to meet some LGBTQ friends.

Statistics from ‘Still Shouting’ –research published by Youth NI and Cara-friend looks at the negative impact of growing up in a homophobic society.

The reports show that statistics for self-harm have risen 26% since 2003, eating disorders face no change in over a decade and attempted suicide has dropped by a mere 4% in 13 years.

Statistics from ‘Stll Shouting’ by Youth Action NI and Cara-Friend

 

“In a 13 year period you’re led to believe things are moving forward but actually the experiences of young people are still entrenched in homophobia.”

“Research then shows the impact of growing up in an environment like that. For example LGBTQ women have a less positive experience at school. They face trans and homophobic bullying and as a result of not wanting to be outed or wanting their parents to find out there is less reporting of this at school”.

In terms of accessing information, support and services- Gail explains that young LGBTQ people remain invisible. They don’t have the same kind of support around their sexual and mental health.

“In a piece of research that we did in schools one pupil said ‘even if it had of been mentioned it would have helped me feel more normal’, -for young people- it just contributes to feelings of being different like it is a secret and they have to remain invisible”.

Out and About is a personal development programme and a support space for young women who want to get information and advice outside of the gay scene.

One of the young women on the programme told me how the mentoring programme has ‘changed her life’. “It was the casual part of the programme that interested me, I didn’t want to sit in a room and talk about my problems for an hour and a half”.

“The programme has made me feel a lot more confident I’m more comfortable in my own skin and have made a new friend in my mentor,” said the women.

Out & Mentoring reaches out to young women with a casual approach- meeting can take place over a cup of coffee or during a walk

Youth Action NI want to avoid a ‘counselling like scenario’ as this can reinforce the idea that there is something wrong with the individual- that they are the problem instead of society.

Our aim is to make the programme as accessible as possible- not many young people will put their hand up and say I want to come and sit and talk with you for 90 minutes jokes Gail.

“What we want to do is create environments where women can talk about things when it arises in ways that are comfortable”.

Mentors are based in Belfast, Derry and Fermanagh with a Northern Ireland wide remit and there is no cost for the programme.

For more information: Visit youthaction.org

See similar articles: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/lgbtq-pride-parade-washington-dc-los-angeles-donald-trump-resistance-lgbt-a7785106.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/06/12/2016-deadliest-year-lgbtq-pulse/373840001/

Ballinamallard, Grace ‘all set’ to travel to Pierce Camp Birchmont, USA

Grace Verner

 

 

By Katie Dickie

 

Grace Verner, from Ballinamallard in County Fermanagh, will leave Northern Ireland this Friday to work at a children’s camp in the USA.

The twenty-year-old South West College student, is currently undertaking a Foundation Science Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. After being told she needed to complete 26 weeks industry placement, Grace decided to go and work in the tourism sector within a children’s camp.

Grace had always heard her older brother refer to camp with such fondness.“He would be smiling from ear to ear and always had great stories to tell, in-fact this will be his eighth year heading out”, she said.

Grace and her brother will travel together to Pierce Camp Birchmont, in New Hampshire, USA. “Around 250 children will attend the camp and they range from seven-15 years-old”, Grace explained.

Not one to set off and forget home Grace said “ I will really miss the rest of my family, my dog and the warm feeling of home.”

Grace is a huge music fan and said, “I won’t be leaving home without my headphones and Spotify, I can’t go a day without listening to music.”

To find out more about Grace’s travel plans, please click on the link to my video report below.

 

Figure 1 Pierce Camp Birchmont Interactive Children’s Map.

 

Figure 2  Summer Camp Facts from American Camp Association (2017).