Council support for aspiring entrepreneurs in Belfast

Belfast City Council is running a new business programme and hosting an upcoming event for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The High Growth Pre-Enterprise Programme will offer support on setting up and building a business and assistance in areas such as finance, sales, marketing and product development.

15 places are available in the new programme which will include a number of masterclasses, a Business Challenge session and one-to-one mentoring.

The programme is funded by the council, Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland. To apply for a place, people should contact the council’s Economic Development Unit on 028 9027 0229 or email

Budding entrepreneurs in the Belfast area thinking of starting their own business can also get advice and support through an upcoming enterprise event – `Start Up Belfast` – organised by the council.

‘Start Up Belfast’ will be a ‘one-stop shop’ event with a business advice clinic, workshops, networking opportunities and exhibitions from business support organisations. It will take place in the Holiday Inn, Ormeau Avenue next Wednesday (20 June) from 9am- 2.15pm.

Attendees to the event will get the chance to find out more about ‘Getting Started’; ‘ Financing Your Business’; ‘Top Tips for Marketing Your Business’; using Social Media to promote your business and ‘Selling Online’ and what not to do.

For further information or to register for the event, contact the council’s Economic Development Unit on 028 9027 0229


A host of stars from Hollywood screen, entertainment, and sport are now on course to take part in the Irish Open Pro-Am at Royal Portrush Golf Club on Wednesday June 27.

ON COURSE FOR PORTRUSH: Antonia Beggs, Irish Open Tournament Director for the European Tour with Alan Clarke, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Fiona Cunningham, Market Manager Northern Ireland Tourist Board (ROI) are ready to tee off at this year's Irish Open which has captured the imagination of stars and public alike. A sell-out crowd of 100,000 people is expected at Royal Portrush in County Antrim over the four days from Thursday June 28 to Sunday July 1, whilst a host of stars including Hollywood actor Bill Murray and Ireland's own Ronan Keating are expected to compete in the Pro-Am on Wednesday June 27.

Principal sponsor of the Irish Open, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), has revealed that Moonrise Kingdom, Lost in Translation and Ghostbusters! star Bill Murray will be joined by his brother Joel, star of the newly released God Bless America, and well-known for his roles in The Artist and hit TV series Mad Men.

Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn, whose credits include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Mission, Legends of the Fall and Michael Collins, has also accepted an invitation to play.

Recording artist and Australian X Factor judge Ronan Keating and Northern Irish football legends Martin O’Neill and Pat Jennings are also expected to compete alongside rugby stars Andrew Trimble and David Humphreys, while former jockey and National Hunt trainer Tom Taaffe is another well-known name chomping at the bit to play the famous Portrush course.

NITB Chief Executive Alan Clarke is looking forward to showing these high profile visitors the many sights Northern Ireland has to offer during their visit to what promises to be one of the largest events on the 2012 tourism calendar.

“The Irish Open is a fantastic opportunity for those involved in local tourism and sport to showcase our fantastic facilities here in Northern Ireland and the quality of the event is reflected in the attendance of such high profile guests from sport and screen.

“Their attendance will further raise the profile of Northern Ireland golf as an exciting and fast developing destination. We have a full programme of activity planned for these guests to make sure that their trip is a memorable one and many will be staying on to enjoy the tournament, see other parts of Northern Ireland and sample a wide variety of other golf courses.

“This is one of the most eagerly anticipated Irish Open tournaments in the history of this prestigious event as the competition makes its long awaited return to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 60 years. With our three home grown major golf champions, a world class course and a fantastic line-up competing for the prize, it’s really no surprise that this event has captured the imagination of celebrities and public alike,” he added.

With the Irish Open now only two weeks away, the European Tour is expecting the event to be a sell-out with a crowd of 100,000 expected over the four days from Thursday June 28 to Sunday July 1.

NITB’s Alan Clarke said that it’s still not too late though to catch Rory McIlroy and company in action.

“Tickets have been selling like hot cakes since going on sale,” said Alan, “but although Saturday and Sunday are pretty much sold out, there is still some availability for Thursday and Friday’s play with a variety of accommodation and package options still up for grabs. I would urge however that people book in advance and don’t risk turning up on the day and expecting to get in”.

For more information on accommodation offers for the Irish Open as well as details on all of Northern Ireland’s golf courses and other ni 2012 events, click on or Advance day tickets for the Irish Open are available for £30, a saving of £5 on the gate price, with four day season tickets priced at £70, a saving of £10. Advance concession day and season tickets are priced at £20 and £50 respectively. Hospitality packages are sold out for the first two days, but are still available on Saturday and Sunday.


And this is YOUR opportunity to get involved in the show.

We are looking for fun, outgoing people who are prepared to be blown away by the fascinating art of mind reading.

So if you like a laugh and enjoy trying new things, get in touch with your name and contact number for details on how to apply.

Or phone 028 9050 0758

Note: Participants must be over the age of 16

Belfast Book Festival 2012 | 11th – 18th June

This year’s Belfast Book Festival returns with a mix of new writing, star performers, workshops, films, lectures, launches and discussion. As with last year, the Festival will be wide ranging and typify the energy books create when they are read, written and debated. Our belief is that a Book Festival should reflect all readers, and be accessible to all.

The Belfast Book Festival 2012 features something for everyone, politics, culture, music, films, comedy, poetry, history and drama. For a second year the Festival will bring books to life in the city of Belfast:

Monday 11th June – Dr Eamon Hughes (QUB) opens the Festival with his lecture ‘Literatures of Belfast’ looking at the strange and unknown history of Belfast writing. Avalard Press brings its reprint of Robert Cromie’s lost 1896 sci-fi classic The Lost Liner, a book which imagines the aftermath of the world’s largest liner, built in Belfast, sinking 12 years before a much mentioned ship did the same. In Whiterock Library, Gerry McCullough talks about her e-publishing sensation Belfast Girls. We’re delighted to welcome the iconic Irish writer Colm Toibin at 7pm to the Festival to discuss his latest work New Ways to Kill Your Mother. Finally the day is rounded off by Glasgow-based comic and writer Ian McPherson, introducing the profundity of Fiacra MacFiach and his book The Autobiography Of Ireland’s Greatest Living Genius.

Tuesday 12th June – The Festival visits the Lyric Theatre on Tuesday afternoon to meet Barry Cassin, the renowned Abbey and Lyric actor in conversation with the great Irish playwright Eugene McCabe. Then at No Alibis Bookstore, Paul Charles, the Irish writer introduces his new novel, The Last Dance about the life of the Showbands in the 1960s. Kate Fearon brings City of Soldiers her account of a year working in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. The Ulster Museum launches 26 Treasures, a multi media event which brings together writers such as Lucy Caldwell with the burgeoning craft and design world in Belfast. At the Oh Yeah! centre Dublin writer Tony Clayton-Lea launches his new book 101 Irish Records (You Must Hear Before You Die) featuring music from up and coming singer Soak from Derry. Liam Carson rounds off Tuesday in conversation with the Belfast poet, Martin Mooney, about his touching Belfast memoir Call My Mother a Lonely Field.

Wednesday 13th June – Another busy day on Wednesday sees a one-man lunchtime performance of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis at the Crescent Arts Centre, and Linen Hall Librarian John Killen introduces his work on Four Friends, a new book about the relationships between NI literary icons Michael McLaverty, Roy McFadden, Robert Greacen and John Boyd. At 6pm the Belfast poet Gerald Dawe brings together a group of friends to celebrate the publication of his Selected Poems, and publishing guru Nicola Morgan will dispense her advice on getting published in the Crescent Arts Centre at 7pm. Later two tyros of literature, Keith Ridgeway and Richard Beard meet Belfast literary blogger John Self at the Crescent Arts Centre (CAC). The evening finishes at the Black Box cafe with Voica Versa, a poetry collective featuring some of Belfast’s best young poets.

Thursday 14th June – Thursday lunchtime at the CAC presents the brilliant pairing of Moyra Donaldson and Bernie McGill, both local writers building international reputations, while the Linen Hall Library hosts Professor Michael Slater, the renowned Charles Dickens expert, commemorating the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth by discussing the great writer’s link with Shakespeare. Back at the Oh Yeah! Centre, the living legend of rock writing Charles Shaar Murray joins Stuart Bailie, and Pat Long, author of NME at 60 in a discussion of the legendary rock and roll newspaper. At the Crescent Arts Centre, Derry crime writer Brian McGilloway discusses his new Inspector Devlin novel concerning The Disappeared with No Alibis proprietor and king of crime in Belfast, David Torrans. The night ends with local poet Ben Maier, with the world premiere of his Edinburgh-bound music and poetry show An Imaginary Circus.

Friday 15th June – At lunchtime the CAC welcomes Irish writers Claire Kilroy and Aifric Campbell to discuss writing about the financial meltdown. The evening sees local singer songwriter Andy White take to the stage introducing his new collection 21st Century Troubadour a 300 page confession of life on the road. Andy will bring music, poetry and humour to the show, and the Festival is delighted to welcome him to the Crescent Arts for what should be a unique evening. Friday ends with the renowned Poetry Slam with competitors vying for the Belfast Book Festival Slam crown.

Saturday 16th June is family day with children’s writers Garrett Carr, Derek Keilty, Liz Weir, Sheena Wilkinson all appearing at the CAC and the new Laureate na nÓg Niamh Sharkey appearing at Eason’s bookshop. For adults there is Malachi O’Doherty at Ormeau Library at 2pm with his new memoir of cycling, health and mortality and English writer Jen Campbell appears at Waterstone’s with her book Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. Also first-time writer Alrene Hughes brings her book on Blitz-torn Belfast, Martha’s Girls to Eason’s. Saturday night sees a special gig with Tolu Olorunda, a writer on hip-hop, race and youth culture appearing direct from Chicago speaking on No Country for Youth: Hip-Hop, Education, and Hope in Dark Times

Sunday 17th June – Sunday brings Irish fiction writers Christine Dwyer Hickey & Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, reading from their latest works, The Cold Eye of Heaven and The Shelter of Neighbours for a Sunday afternoon of high class literature. On Sunday evening three of Northern Ireland’s brightest and best musicians gather at the Crescent Arts Centre to showcase the interface between songwriting and literature, Shauna Tohill, Peter McVeigh and Aaron Shanley. Sunday ends with our Amanda McKittrick Ross: The World’s Worst Writer event. Gather together and compete to see who can read the longest section of the Larne lady’s prose. Drink will be taken.

Monday 18th June – Belfast Book Festival Extra brings Sophia Hillen to the Crescent Arts Centre to discuss her last book, May, Lou & Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland, the link between Jane Austen and Ireland, The Sunday Times’s Stephen Price will talk about his work The Earl Bishop concerning one of the most interesting characters of Ireland’s history, Frederic Hervey, Bishop of Derry and the 4th Earl of Bristol. And finishing the Festival is Mike Scott who brings his memoir of a life as one of the cultural icons of the 80s and 90s, Adventures of the Waterboys.

Our Festival partners, the QFT will also show four films throughout the week, concerning the strange lives of writers. They are: The Hours, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Shadowlands and Prick Up Your Ears.

For further details and to arrange an interview please contact Hugh, Hilary or Melissa at the Crescent Arts Centre – (028) 9024 2338

For more information, and to book tickets please see:

Emma and Pauline, Ladies with Altitude!

Two Mid-Ulster women will be scaling new heights in aid of charity in the coming weeks as they take on the 6 Counties 6 Peaks Challenge.

Emma McCann and Pauline McGurk will take on not one but six of the highest mountains in Northern Ireland in a unique fundraiser for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

And, if that wasn’t challenging enough, Emma and Pauline have vowed to complete all six peaks in just 24 hours.

Pauline McGurk and Emma McCann from Mid Ulster training in the Sperrin Mountains

The intrepid pair will be setting off on their daring adventure from Slieve Donard Hotel at 3am on June 23rd and from there will travel across all six counties and to the peaks of Slieve Donard in Co Down (850m),  Slieve Gullion in Co Armagh (573m), Cuilcagh Co Fermanagh (666m), Trostan Co Antrim (550m), Sawel Co Derry (678m),  and Mullaghcarn Co Tyrone (542).

Both women are hugely experienced hikers and fundraisers and between them have raised almost £50k for various charities over the years. Emma is well known for her work with the local Lions Club and Pauline is a volunteer for North West Mountain Rescue Team and together they have the attitude and altitude to make this challenge a roaring success.

Donations can be made through their justgiving page

Alternatively you can text donation to PEAK06 £(your amount) to 70070 (must be in capitals letters and leave a space before the pound sign) and your chosen amount can range from £1 to £10.

The girls are hoping to raise £3859 which is £1 for every metre they will be climbing on the day.

In addition you can log on to Facebook and check their progress over the coming weeks as well as give them some much appreciated encouragement. The page can be found at and this will be updated throughout the day on June 23rd.

Show your support and join them through this amazing journey of endurance.

Speaking about Emma and Pauline’s challenge, Paul O’Gara from Ulster Cancer Foundation said:

“As challenges go they don’t get much bigger than this.

“Emma and Pauline will be pulling out all the stops in their bid to raise money for Ulster Cancer Foundation and we would ask everyone to support them and the charity as they prepare for what will be a very intense 24 hours on June 23rd.”

“We are one of Northern Ireland’s leading cancer charities and we provide a range of services for people who have been affected by cancer. Our Family Support Service is a free service available to families across Northern Ireland, provides one-to-one support to help reduce the impact of cancer on family life, and aims to minimise the long-term effects on the emotional well-being of the entire family unit. These services are only possible due to the on-going support of the general public.”

The Ulster Cancer Foundation is one of the North of Ireland’s leading Cancer charities committed to tackling cancer by supporting cancer research, providing services for cancer patients and their families and by educating people on how they can reduce their risk of the disease. All funds raised for the Ulster Cancer Foundation are spent locally to help and support people with cancer in N. Ireland. If anyone requires any further information on the services or work of Ulster Cancer Foundation please contact Paul O’Gara 07585956807 E:


Coca-Cola Future Flame has once in a lifetime experience of running with the Olympic Flame

On Monday Aymen McGonigle, 16 from Upperlands joined Jamie McClelland, Jane Jones, Paul Meikle, Ryan O’Connor and Timothy Shiels – six of Coca-Cola’s 40 Future Flames honoured with the chance to carry the Olympic Flame on part of its journey through Northern Ireland. These inspiring individuals were chosen as an official London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer via Coca-Cola’s Future Flames campaign, which recognises and rewards the positive contributions young people make every day in their local communities by giving them the once in a lifetime opportunity to carry the Olympic Flame.

Aymen was chosen to carry the Olympic Torch in Derry~Londonderry because of his enthusiasm for downhill mountain bike racing. In 2010 he  sold everything he owned in order to build his own bike from scratch built a track in his village of Upperlands and repairs friends bikes.

Other inspirational Torchbearers who ran through Derry~Londonderry today are:

Timothy Shiels 30 from Waterside – chosen because of his works with children as a motivational speaker in primary schools across Ireland. He is a great athlete and runs for charity.

Jamie McClelland 17 from Ballygowan – chosen for his contribution to performing arts in his local area. Jamie has been acting and producing shows for his local community from a young age.

These Torchbearers were cheered on by huge crowds of local people who lined the streets of Derry~Londonderry, joining Coca-Cola and it’s ‘Beat Fleet’ in creating a euphoric procession of music and dancing as the Olympic Flame passed through on its journey around the UK. The ‘Beat Fleet’ encouraged everyone in Derry~Londonderry to ‘Move to the Beat’ in celebration of the fantastic achievements of all their Future Flames.

To further celebrate the thousands of inspirational Torchbearers running the 8,000 mile route of the Olympic Torch Relay, Coca-Cola is helping the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and host Local Authorities to bring music and celebration to every corner of the UK with 66 nights of celebrations during the Olympic Torch Relay.  This comprises 61 Evening Celebrations plus four Special City Celebrations in Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham, and a finale concert in London’s Hyde Park, presented by Coca-Cola.  Each night features incredible performances from some of the nation’s best loved stars, including Dizzee Rascal, Emeli Sandé, Eliza Doolittle, Friendly Fires, General Fiasco, Katy B, Kids In Glass Houses, Labrinth, Little Comets, Loick Essien, Morning Parade, Mark Ronson, Rizzle Kicks, Tribes, Wombats, The Wanted, Wretch 32, You Me At Six and Young Guns.

James Williams, Director, Olympic Torch Relay, The Coca-Cola Company, said:

“I’m delighted we’ve been able to give these amazing young people – our Future Flames – the once in a lifetime opportunity of running with the Olympic Flame in recognition of the outstanding contributions they make to their local communities. It was great to see so many people in Derry~Londonderry out in force to join in the spectacular celebrations along the route of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. I hope everyone enjoyed being part of London 2012.”

Details of the full line up of the evening celebrations can be found at:

Tickets for the event in London’s Hyde Park cost £15 (plus order processing fee) and are still available via

Magherafelt Celebrating Excellence, with probably the biggest torch relay event in Northern Ireland

The events team at Magherafelt District Council are jumping hurdles to make sure the Olympic torch relay’s arrival in Magherafelt on June 7 will leave a lasting legacy.

The planned celebration is the biggest participatory event ever organised by the Council to mark the once-in-a-lifetime visit of the world-famous flame.  An estimated 7,000 people from the district will be involved directly, and this will include people from schools, businesses, charities and community groups. The impressive events will also involve all sectors and all ages of the community, making sure that everyone has an opportunity to be involved.

In the build-up to the torch’s arrival, a community carnival parade will take place on June 6 and is expected to attract record crowds. The carnival will kick off at 6pm and be a celebration of excellence in sport, dance, commerce and music from the Magherafelt area, with some world class champions. Groups, charities, schools and businesses from the Council district are dressing up carnival style and the emphasis will be on celebration, colour and visual expression. On that night a big screen will transmit messages from some of NI biggest names, wishing Magherafelt well.

In the run up to the event the people of Magherafelt were asked to nominated Olympian Greek gods and goddesses, who will also form part of the festivities. The LOCAL sporting champions and heroes have been nominated by the public and will parade in the town with a specially-made Olympic chariot.

On the morning of the torch arrival itself, over 3000 children will take part in a series of visual displays at Meadowbank Sports Arena just before the flame’s arrival. Weather permitting, the children, from 31 local schools, will come together to form an Olympic message and then line the streets with members of the public to receive the Olympic flame.

The event will be streamed live via the internet and hosted by local personality and sports broadcaster, Claire Glancy. The internet program will also be transmitted on a large screen set up in the town centre where audiences can also view good-will messages from local celebrities.

Magherafelt District Council Chairman Ian Milne said “We are delighted that the Olympic committee has decided to bring the torch to Magherafelt, the centre of Northern Ireland. This is a one-off opportunity for the people of Magherafelt and surrounding community to take part in celebrations; to see the Olympic flame and witness the spectacle of the Olympic torch relay.  We are organising several exciting events around the torch relay and are expecting large crowds to get involved by lining the streets and enjoying the atmosphere the events will bring.”

As part of the package of celebratory activities, a collaborative art project is already underway involving all sectors of the community. Schools, community groups and individuals are producing art/graphics to be transferred on to ceramic tiles to decorate an abstract torch shape created by the Northern Regional College. The artwork will express collectively what the Olympic relay event represents to people of the district and, as well as being displayed during the carnival parade, will be later installed as a piece of public art at the new Greenvale Leisure Centre.

All planned events will ensure that the Olympic torch visit will be one which will be ingrained in the memories of the people of Magherafelt for years to come.

For further information, please contact Michael Browne, Davina McCartney or Charmain Bell on 028 7939 7979 or email

Comedy comes to Glasgowbury

FOLLOWING the ‘small but massive’ success of a G Spot comedy stage at last year’s festival, Glasgowbury are delighted to announce its return for 2012.

Headlined by Irish based New Zealand comic Danny Dowling, the stage will also feature a plethora of up and coming Irish talent.

Dowling, a regular face around Ireland’s comedy clubs has played everything from support slots for comedy greats including Tommy Tiernan to major Irish comedy festivals.

He may be best known however for winning Ireland’s Come Dine With Me programme with a series high score for throwing 250 custard pies at his fellow contestants.

Throughout the day, the G Spot comedy stage, run in conjunction with the team at, will feature a further 7 slots filled by some fantastic new talent.

Monaghan born comedienne Niamh Marron’s exuberant style will work well as the only female acts amongst the men; her excitable style setting her out as one of Ireland’s premier female acts.

Joining them will be a couple of Glasgowbury returnees in Colin Geddis (best known for his I Am Fighter work) and Micky Bartlett.

Meanwhile the line-up is completed by Magic George, Ronan Linskey, Ryan Hand and Philip McEwan – acts judged to be showcasing their work to great effect across the country.

“Comedy is just one part of what makes a vibrant and exciting festival,” said organiser Paddy Glasgow.

“Glasgowbury aims to be the sort of event which showcases new talent across a range of arts. And the comedy scene in Ireland is a really exciting one at the moment so we’re delighted to be able to include a stage full of it,” he said.

“The massive success of last year’s stage, fuelled by the excitement from the audience, prompted us to work with the team at to bring some laughs back to the mountain.”

Glasgowbury 2012 takes place across the weekend of Saturday 21st July and tickets are on sale now. Full details at