The end of a long hot summer
August has been an exciting and a challenging month
My constituency office in Newtownards provides services to constituents from all over. I've been dealing with issues for people from Ballynahinch to Portaferry, and everywhere in between. The political impasse at Stormont keeps dragging on, but what other politicians don't seem to realise is that life outside their bubble goes on and that's why I am still working hard for you.
Universal Credit Events
The introduction of Universal Credit is the biggest change to the benefits system in a generation. Universal Credit will be introduced in the Ballynahinch benefits office from the 5th September and the Newtownards benefits office from the 19th of September. I was worried that there wasn't enough being done to tell people about these changes, so I held three events across my constituency to inform people about what they will mean to them and their families. I'd like to thank Advice NI for coming down and making these events such a success! If you need advice on these changes, contact my office.
A picture of me with the crowd at the Newtownards Universal Credit event I hosted and a very blurry Kevin from Advice NI telling people what it means to them.
I was proud to represent the Alliance Party during the Pope's visit to Ireland. I attended Dublin castle to hear him and the Taoiseach speak. I believe Leo Varadkar was right when he said that the Pope must use his influence to help bring about truth and justice and healing for victims and survivors of abuse.
No place for Paramilitaries in Ards!
My office has been working closely with residents of Newtownards who have found themselves harassed and intimidated by Paramilitary elements in the town. These thugs have no place in Northern Ireland and offer nothing but pain and suffering to the people here. I signed a joint letter from political representatives condemning the erection of paramilitary flags. While seeing a united front from politicians condemning paramilitaries is to be welcomed, it is depressing that it is still needed in 2018. What we really need is a functioning executive with a robust anti paramilitary strategy.
Time to get Park and Ride on the road
You may have seen the new Urby buses connecting Newtownards with Belfast. These buses are high tech and certainly to be welcomed, but many more people would be able to use the Urby for the last part of their commute if appropriate car parking, such as a park and ride, was available in Newtownards. Translink have said 'smarter' travellers will use the Urby service. I am a smarter traveller. I'm also smart enough to know there isn't a park and ride option that suits me, a rural commuter. I've written to them and look forward to an update, to keep up to speed follow my Facebook or my Twitter
Include Youth Awards ceremony recognises young peoples achievements
I was pleased to attend an awards event with Include Youth as part of their Give and Take programme.
Include Youth do amazing work and the Give & Take Scheme has been designed to help the employability and increases the self-esteem and confidence of young people aged 16+, who are not ready to take part in a training course, attend college or move into work.
Give and take...we could use some of that up at Stormont!
During the month of August I ran a competition on Facebook page, congratulations to Bettina G Hunniford who won vouchers to the Members Dining Room in Stormont!
Make sure to head over and like my Facebook page
On a personal note
I attended the Carrowdare Vintage Car rally with Sarah from my office and bumped into my predecessor Kieran McCarthy. Kieran served the people of Strangford and the Alliance party well and it was great to catch up with him, even if I did leave with serious car envy!