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  1. Updates for Thursday 19 March 2015
  2. More news, sport, weather and travel updates from 07:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

By Conor Macauley and Ciaran McCauley

All times stated are UK

Get involved


Ciaran Daly


That's it from BBC News NI Live for another day. A hat-tip to the BBC's own Albert Kirk who sent us this picture of tonight's magnificent sunset.

ALbert Kirk

We'll be back again on Friday at 07:00. Until then, you can keep up to date with all of the latest news, sport, travel and weather on the

BBC News NI website.

Queens withdrawal not a 'death knell':

Maggie Taggart

BBC News NI Arts Correspondent

Queens University's decision

not to continue with the Belfast Festival at Queens "is not a death knell" for the festival, according to its the director.

Belfast Festival

Director Richard Wakely also confirmed that the Belfast Festival will be meeting with all of the other major funders next week to discuss a way forward.

Healthy competition?:

BBC News School Report

Many people know the phrase, "healthy body, healthy mind" - but does being competitive on the playing field translate into competitive behaviour academically and is that healthy?

School reporters investigate the role of competitiveness

Pupils from

Coleraine Academical Institution have filmed a story on that very subject for BBC Northern Ireland School Report.

Dodds rules out cabinet positions:

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds says that his party will not seek cabinet positions in the event of a hung parliament at Westminster this May.

He says that the DUP "will work in the interests of Northern Ireland and the Union".

Nigel Dodds

Addressing party members in north Belfast Mr Dodds said this was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to maximise Northern Ireland's influence.

Evening weather forecast:

Angie Phillips

BBC News NI Weather Presenter

The clear bright skies have come a day too early for the partial solar eclipse

as cloud continues to close in tonight.

Evening weather

It's going to be a misty, murky start tomorrow so the eclipse may not be visible tomorrow morning. It will be mainly dry though and that should continue into the weekend.

Restaurateur praises armed robbery mishap response:

The owner of a Portstewart restaurant where armed

police mistook students making a film for armed robbers praised the public and the police response to the incident.

Kabeer Kher said: "It's nice to know the public are looking out for us and the armed response got there in six minutes, so that's good to know if anything ever does happen."

Tourist board to explore festival future:

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board says it will "explore viable proposals and future potential for the Belfast Festival" after Queens University Belfast withdrew its funding for the event.

Belfast Festival

A statement from Tourism NI said: "We are understandably disappointed that Queen's University will not continue with the festival, however we appreciate the difficult financial decisions facing the university."

The statement also: "The festival has made a huge contribution to the visitor experience over many years by delivering bednights and showcasing our capital city."

Former soldier sentenced:

A former soldier diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder has been jailed for St Patrick's Day attacks on police and smashing his mother's car.

Laganside Court

James Burns, 23, head-butted one of five officers it took to restrain him after they were called to his family home in Newtownabbey, County Antrim. He was sentenced to four months in prison after admitting charges of criminal damage, two counts of assault on police, and resisting arrest.

City of Culture legacy funding cut:

Londonderry Sentinel

The Londonderry Sentinel

reports that UK City of Culture legacy funding will cease in less than a fortnight, Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has admitted.

Fireworks on Foyle
PAcemaker press

The minister also confirmed that a new company to look after the City of Culture legacy in Londonderry, which had been promised, will now not open.

Suspended sentence for obscene act:

A convicted child abuser from County Fermanagh caught looking up the skirts of schoolgirls in a Belfast supermarket

has been given a suspended sentence.

Robert John Liddle, 66, from Moorlough Road, Lisnaskea, admitted an act of a "lewd, obscene and disgusting nature" on 25 February 2014.

Festival figures

The Belfast Festival says that funding from Queens University represented 13% of the festival's total income.

NI Arts Council

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has been the festival's principal funder for over 50 years and the organisation has confirmed it remains committed to supporting an arts and culture showcase of this kind for Belfast.

M2 tailback:

BBC NI Travel

A four-car collision heading out of Belfast on M2 hill section near Arthur Bridge; two lanes are blocked; causing long tailbacks to Duncrue Street.

Cuts blamed for Queens withdrawal:

Significant cuts to the public purse and a recent strategic review of the Belfast Festival at Queens have been blamed for the university withdrawing its financial support for the event.

Richard Wakely

Festival director Richard Wakely said: "Whilst this is disappointing news, it nevertheless represents a genuine opportunity to work constructively with our remaining public and private stakeholders to explore the redesign and relaunch of festival...".

Queens pulls out of Belfast Festival

Queens University Belfast has decided "with great reluctance" to withdraw its annual funding for the Belfast Festival at Queens.

Queens University Belfast

Queens University says that to continue funding the festival would "expose itself to an unacceptable level of financial risk".

Council defends 'innovative' dog fouling video:

Newry and Mourne District Council has defended what it has called an "innovative approach" in

a social media video about dog fouling.

Just a word of warning, if you're about to sit down to eat your dinner, there is some graphic imagery involved.

Dog fouling
Newry and Mourne District Council

In a statement, the council says: "It is accepted that this video is using shock tactics to address this serious public health issue but the council believes this is a means to an end. The overall response so far is very positive and the council is being commended for adopting such a novel approach".

Accident in Londonderry:

BBC NI Travel

The emergency services are attending the scene of an accident in Londonderry. It follows a collision involving a car and a motorbike at the junction of Chapel Road and Newlyn Terrace in the Waterside area of the city.

Budget crisis warning:

BBC News NI business correspondent Julian O'Neill



Craigavon bridge cleared:

BBC NI Travel

The lower deck of Craigavon Bridge in Londonderry has now been cleared after a lorry was stuck there earlier.

Villiers positive about city deal:

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan says Secretary of State Theresa Villiers would support a city deal for Londonderry. A city deal is an initiative aimed at helping a city or region boost investment, promote growth and create jobs.


Mr Durkan, who met with Ms Villiers yesterday, said: "She stressed that if the devolved authorities in Northern Ireland come forward with agreements around a city deal she was confident her colleagues and Treasury would want to be supportive."

McCrea welcomes UKIP relations

South Antrim MP William McCrea has welcomed

UKIP's desire to work with the DUP in the next Parliament.

William McCrea

Mr McCrea said: "There are many issues where the DUP and UKIP share a common focus, including on the demand to hold a referendum on our membership of the European Union and control over our borders."

Abusive priest awaits sentence:

Belfast Telegraph

The Belfast Telegraph

reports that a former Catholic priest will learn next week if he's to serve any more time in custody after he admitted sexually abusing a young altar boy over 20 years ago.

Daniel Curran

Temple memento:

Londonderry Sentinel

The Londonderry Sentinel

reports that the parents of policewoman Philippa Reynolds who died in a collision while on duty have left a special memento at the Burning Man temple in the Waterside.

Dorothy and Mervyn Reynolds

Welfare reform 'stocktaking':

Mark Devenport

BBC News NI Political Editor

The main Stormont parties are to attend what is being billed as a

stocktaking meeting with the secretary of state over welfare reform this afternoon.

Theresa Villiers

Sources have said no fresh documents have been circulated to all the parties in advance of the meeting.

Lorry stuck on Craigavon Bridge:

BBC NI Travel

A lorry is stuck on the lower deck of the Craigavon Bridge in Londonderry. There's congestion in the area and there's no vehicle access from either side of the lower deck at the moment..

Film students mistaken for robbers

Students making a film were confronted by armed police when

they were mistaken for armed robbers in County Londonderry.

psni officer generic

A passer-by raised the alarm on Wednesday after seeing a man wearing a balaclava and holding a gun in a takeaway restaurant in Portstewart.

Row over no pact in Mid Ulster:

Mid Ulster Mail

Unionists in Mid Ulster have clashed on social media over a lack of a unionist pact in the constituency for the Westminster election,

the Mid Ulster Mail reports.

Police seek burglar after car stolen:


A red Vauxhall Astra was stolen from the Crescent Link area of Londonderry late last night or the early hours of Wednesday morning by a thief who stole the keys from inside a house.

That vehicle was later recovered in Rossnagalliagh in the city. Police are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the red car being driven near either location.

Staring at the sun safely

There's a solar eclipse tomorrow but it's likely that many of us won't be able to see it in Northern Ireland due to a thick layer of cloud.


But on the off-chance that the sun sneaks through, here's a handy

BBC iWonder guide on how to watch a solar eclipse safely.

Lisburn diversions:

Trafficwatch NI


Trafficwatch NI 19 March 2015

Spending limits for welfare reform:

A resolution to

a Stormont crisis over the non-implementation of welfare reforms can be found without exceeding pre-agreed spending limits, Northern Ireland's finance minister has said.

Simon Hamilton

Simon Hamilton said: "We are working very hard to find a way forward and hopefully that will be successful over the next day or so and people will see how we have been able to find a way forward,"

Air pollution:

Barra Best

BBC News NI Weather Presenter

BBC News NI weather presenter Barra Best

tweets: Settled weather is leading to moderate-to-high levels of air pollution today. Levels will be lower from tomorrow.

Air pollution
Met Office

North West 200 journeys:

BBC Sport NI

We're just 53 days away from the start of the North West 200 and the BBC is asking you to share stories of your journey to the country's biggest motorbiking event of the year.

NW200 journeys

You can find out more on the

BBC Sport NI website or by emailing

Former charity director convicted:

The former director of a Londonderry charity will be

sentenced next month after he was convicted for ten charges related to fraudulent applications for grants.

Eddie Kerr

Eddie Kerr, 61, was acquitted of a further five charges.

Ireland team named:

The men tasked with securing a second successive Six Nations for Ireland have been selected.

Ireland team

Luke Fitzgerald and Cian Healy have been drafted into the side for Saturday's final game against Scotland, with Jack McGrath dropping to the bench and Simon Zebo missing out on the match-day squad.

Loughgall widow can challenge intervention:

The widow of an innocent man killed alongside an IRA gang in Loughgall has won the right to

challenge a government intervention into a campaign for fresh inquests.


Brigid Hughes' husband Anthony was shot dead when soldiers opened fire on eight IRA men who were trying to bomb an RUC station in Loughgall, County Armagh.

Howley calls for kick-off change:

BBC Sport NI

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley says the Six Nations organisers should "probably" ensure all

final-day games kick-off at the same time.

Rob Howley
Huw Evans Agency

On Saturday, the three games take place one after the other. Howley says simultaneous starts would be better.

Police Federation seeks clarification on cuts:

The Chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, has called for a clear statement about the impact that drastic budget cuts will have on the PSNI.


Mr Lindsay said: "These cuts are profoundly worrying. They will affect officer numbers and the inevitable knock-on is that frontline services will be impaired."

State of decay:

Nearly half of eight-year-olds and a third of five-year-olds have

signs of decay in their milk teeth, a national dental health survey has found.

Child brushing her teeth

The 2013 Children's Dental Health Survey for England, Wales and Northern Ireland also found that 46% of 15-year-olds had decay in their teeth.