New Digital Transformation Programme to support over 1000 businesses across NI

Businesses across Northern Ireland will be able to enhance their productivity and digital capabilities through a new Digital Transformation Programme, which has been announced today. 

The Digital Transformation Programme is designed to support over 1000 businesses across Northern Ireland to improve their productivity by incorporating digital technologies into their businesses and will be delivered through a range of workshops and one to one mentoring. Invest Northern Ireland has allocated over £860,000 of funds, with councils contributing £216,000, to support the Programme which will be delivered by all 11 councils.

Making the announcement Kevin Holland, Invest NI’s CEO said: “COVID-19 has strongly reinforced the importance of digital technologies and has significantly accelerated the shift to digital for businesses across Northern Ireland. The new Digital Transformation Programme will provide a platform for businesses to understand the digital options, which are available to them, plan the next steps in their digital journey and create value for their customers in an increasingly competitive economy.

“The collaborative nature of this Programme is exceptional and is a Northern Ireland wide effort across all 11 councils to support Northern Ireland businesses to drive an increase in productivity through digital transformation. The workshops will show Northern Ireland businesses how they can adopt existing and proven technologies to help them transform their business models, improve productivity and create value for customers and will appeal to businesses in all sectors including manufacturing, retail, tourism, hospitality and construction.”

The Programme, which will be rolled out in summer 2021, will also offer almost 200 businesses with the highest potential for digital transformation an opportunity to be selected for one to one digital innovation mentoring. The mentoring will explore how their business can adopt digital technologies to deliver transformational change with the completion of a Digital Acceleration Plan. 

Jacqui Dixon, of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, which is the Council administering the Programme said: “The Councils are delighted to have secured this funding from Invest Northern Ireland. Delivery of the Digital Transformation Programme is strategically significant for the region.

“It will accelerate the adaptation of technology by SME’s to improve productivity and shows the determination of Northern Ireland’s eleven councils and Invest NI to re-build the economy through partnership. The Programme will equip and guide businesses to develop Digital Acceleration Plans with the support of public sector.” 

The Digital Transformation Programme is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.

“BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac unveils debut novel at Belfast Book Festival 2021”

Belfast Book Festival makes a welcome return from 10 – 13 June with an online programme of live events for book lovers, covering everything from love and politics to Cinderella as a zombie! 

Presented by the Crescent Arts Centre, highlights of the festival include Annie Macmanus (BBC Radio 1) unveiling her debut novel ‘Mother, Mother’ which is set in Belfast; Ian McElhinney (‘Derry Girls’) and literary biographer Roy Foster exploring the work of Seamus Heaney; Glenn Patterson (‘The Northern Bank Job’) in conversation with author Conor O’Callaghan; Colm Tóibín (‘Brooklyn’), reading from ‘Queer Love: An Anthology of Irish Fiction’ and a special recorded performance fromthe official poet of the 2012 London Olympics, Lemn Sissay.  

For up and coming writers and poets, there will be discussions with industry professionals from the worlds of poetry, prose and publishing about how to get your work seen and heard, and the lucky winners of the Mairtín Crawford Awards for Poetry and Short Story 2021 will also be announced. 

This year’s festival covers a wide variety of themes – including feminism, grief, family, disability, sexuality, body image and the care system – and features writers based in Ireland, the UK, Germany, France and the United States.

Setting the scene for this year’s Belfast Book Festival, Sophie Hayles, Chief Executive of the Crescent Arts Centre which programmes and manages the event, said:

“One of the silver linings of the past year is that many people have rediscovered a love of reading in lockdown.  This year’s Belfast Book Festival embraces that spirit with a superb line-up of writers, poets, authors, thinkers and doers.

This year’s event will have a really open and interactive feel, with tickets being priced at either £3 or free and audience members being able to ask questions of their favourite writers.  Our guests will join us virtually while our event hosts will stream their discussions live from the Crescent.”

Multi-award winning author and Belfast Book Festival patron Lucy Caldwell returns with short stories of love, loss and exile in her new collection, ‘Intimacies’, in the company of fellow author Louise Kennedy (‘The End of the World is a Cul de Sac’) andactor and journalist Mira Sethi (‘Are You Enjoying’).  

Offering an enthralling dissection of love, commitment, power and privilege in contemporary Hong Kong, Naoise Dolan will discuss her debut novel ‘Exciting Times’ in the company of author Joanna Walsh (‘Seed’) and chair, journalist John Self

Over 90 poets, authors and playwrights – established, emerging and first-time – have come together to create ‘Her Other Language: Northern Irish Women Writers Address Domestic Violence and Abuse’, an anthology which aims to raise the ongoing issue of domestic violence and abuse, and shine a spotlight on women’s writing. Editors Ruth Carr and Natasha Cuddington will introduce the project and host readings from six of the contributors. 

Born in County Longford, but now based in Berlin, Adrian Duncan is a visual artist who originally trained as an engineer.  This man of many talents will join author Wendy Erskine to discuss his debut collection of short stories, ‘Midfield Dynamo’.  

In Northern Ireland’s centenary year and in a turbulent time for unionism, two of our most respected political journalists – Susan McKay and Amanda Ferguson – come together to discuss Susan’s new book, ‘Northern Protestants: On Shifting Ground’.  Featuring over 100 new interviews with people including Toni Ogle, Dawn Purvis and Sammy Wilson,  the book covers a range of social justice issues and campaigns, particularly the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights. 

If you’d like a little bit of escape after all that reality, ‘Magical Realism in Modern Literature’, a partnership with Dublin Book Festival, features an enviable line-up of panellists including Jan Carson (‘The Fire Starters’), Deirdre Sullivan (winner of the An Post Irish Book Award for Young Adults 2020) and Cathy Sweeney (‘Modern Times’), with writer, spoken word performer, journalist and broadcaster Peter Murphy in the chair. 

Our stories about ourselves are one of the main things that define us, but what about the stories of children in care?  In partnership with Barnardo’s NI, ‘Understanding Our Stories, Understanding Ourselves’ looks at the psychological nature of storytelling, with guests who have either personal or professional experience of the care system: poet Lemn Sissay, journalist Alex Kane and psychologist Dr William Coman

There are events for younger audiences too, with children’s author and poet Joseph Coelho reading from his deliciously creepy take on Cinderella – ‘Zombierella’ – while the team from Young Adult literary journal ‘Paper Lanterns’ will discuss ‘Writing the Teen Voice’. 

Best-selling author Elizabeth McCracken (‘Here’s Your Hat What’s Your Hurry’) has been a great influence on poet and essayist Molly McCully Brown and her new work ‘Places I’ve Taken My Body’, so we thought we would bring them together to have a chat about it, with chair, broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir

Women’s bodies in Ireland have been a topic of debate for generations.  Author and poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa (‘A Ghost in the Throat’) and writer and podcaster Sophie White (‘Corpsing: My Body and Other Horror Shows’) write about the subject with aching honesty and humour and join chair, journalist Aine Toner, to share their experiences. 

In addition to the June event, Belfast Book Festival is also planning a number of year-round events, featuring artists including author Bernard MacLaverty, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and Elizabeth Day, presenter of the hugely popular podcast, ‘How to Fail’.Further details of these events will be announced soon. 

For full Belfast Book Festival programme details and to book tickets – priced either £3 or free – visit 

The Belfast Book Festival is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council. 

Demand For Hospitality Jobs Set To Soar Says Top Recruitment Agency

Leading recruitment specialists Tyson Wilson Recruitment has warned that demand for jobs in the hospitality sector is set to soar with the date for the return to full opening coming in three weeks.

Darren White of Tyson Wilson said that many businesses have persevered throughout the lockdowns and now, after many false starts, it is set to be full steam ahead on May 24.

“Everyone in the hospitality sector is looking forward to welcoming customers through the doors,” he said. “With demand expected to surge the pressure on businesses will be high, while welcome.

“That means that staff recruitment will be essential, as many traditional hospitality staff may have moved on during the lockdowns.”

Darren explained the evidence is that many bars and restaurants staff, such as students, temporary and casual staff, have moved on to other employment.

“This is one more headache for businesses, after their investment to make sure their premises are covid-safe,” said Darren. 

“The Bank of England has predicted that unemployment will fall, and we have seen many coming through to us for posts whose previous experience includes hospitality.

“Furthermore the need for table service and other measures, such as regular sanitisation will place more pressure on securing staff.”

However, Darren said that after such an extended period of closure he was confident the sector will bounce back. 

“We are a culture of socialisation, we love to see each other for a drink or for a meal,” he said. 

“There is pent up demand that will see restaurants, pubs and hotels a busy few months ahead. Add into that the increased demand in staycations we hope that the hospitality sector will experience the boom period that it deserves.”

Darren, who is responsible for hospitality at Tyson Wilson Recruitment, said they already have posts opening up in pubs and restaurants.

“We are seeing the demand growing and many feel that they would be the perfect fit for a rewarding, customer focussed job,” he added.

“We look forward to supporting businesses and helping people secure a great job.”

For more information or to speak to Darren at Tyson Wilson Recruitment email or log onto

Gobbins Crafts Jewellery Studio Becomes 11th NI Tourism Business To Be Granted Économusée Status

Gobbin’s Crafts, a jewellery studio owned by goldsmith and designer Heather McFadden, is the 11th business in Northern Ireland to be granted Économusée status.

Today (May 13th) Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust invited guests along to an online launch celebrating the launch of Gobbins Crafts’ workshops into the Économusée programme.

After graduating from Art College in the 1980s, Heather McFadden specialised in goldsmithing to combine her love of sculpture and working with metals. She started out designing and creating commissions, wedding, and engagement rings, crafting beautiful  pieces for clients who wanted something unique.  

Heather’s workshops offer classes in the art of jewellery-making, she now joins the elite network of food and craft artisans who open their doors to visitors and tourists to share the story of their journey and acquire knowledge, skill, and passion.  

Graham Thompson, Chief Executive of Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust, who are a lead partner of the Économusée Artisan at Work project in Northern Ireland said: “In a difficult year when many businesses have struggled to survive, it is encouraging to see the network grow and Heather’s workshop brings yet another diverse and unique authenticity to this network of Économusée businesses. 

“We are delighted to welcome Gobbins Crafts to the Économusée network in Northern Ireland.” 

Guest speakers at the launch included Carl-Éric Guertin, Director of the Économusée  Network Society in Quebec, Martin Graham, Tourism NI, Ciaran Doherty, Tourism Ireland, Cllr Peter Johnston Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as well as CCGHT CEO Graham Thompson.

Tiérna Mullan, CCGHT project officer added: “By visiting Économusée workshops, visitors will  gain an enhanced experience; learn about the history of the craft and the business; the enthusiasm of the artisan along with the added opportunity of meeting the artisans face to face and discovering the beauty and authenticity of the products made and sold onsite.

“We are thankful to our partners in Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and Tourism NI who have continued to support and enable us to expand the Économusée network in the area”. 

Économusée Artisans at Work is a concept that was developed in Québec and involves  partners from Canada, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Haiti, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  

Speaking of the achievement, Heather said: ‘Whilst the current restrictions prevented me from accommodating people today in person at my workshop.

“I hope for a brighter future when you can visit my studio to see me at work and hear my story. 

“I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has made me feel so welcome into the network and I look forward to growing with you and sharing my skills and knowledge. 

“As part of my commitment to the Économusée network I will offer visitors pre-booked  jewellery making classes and tours of the workshop where they will see the storyboards  which tell the history of the area and my personal journey.”

Within Northern Ireland the other ten Économusée workshops are; Broighter Gold  Rapeseed Oil in Limavady, Scullion Hurls in Loughgiel, Steenson’s Jewellers in Glenarm, Hillstown Brewery in Ahoghill, Hot Milk Forge in Martinstown and Ursa Minor Bakehouse,  Broughgammon Farm, North Coast Smokehouse in Ballycastle, Audrey Kyle Arts in Islandmagee and the Creamery Can in Glarryford. 

Each workshop is situated on or close by  the famous Causeway Coastal Route making it an ideal craft trail for visitors.  

For more information on the Économusée network contact or go to

Luxurious City Breaks in Northern Ireland

Add a touch of glamour to your getaway

From the cities to the countryside to the coast, Northern Ireland offers stunning 4 star and 5 star accommodation – each redefining luxury in its own way with an abundance of outdoor activities, shopping, adventure and history around every corner. 

If you’re looking for sophisticated short city breaks in particular, you are guaranteed to find that touch of luxury in Northern Ireland, even on a budget. After all, we deserve some quality time with our friends and family, so what better way to treat ourselves than planning an indulgent pampering trip, while supporting our local tourism industry and rediscovering Northern Ireland’s giant spirit.

If you would like to add a sprinkle of glamour or a dash of urban razzle-dazzle to your getaway, here are some of the ritziest city spots in Northern Ireland.

Belfast’s Bright Lights

5* Merchant Hotel

While its former life as Ulster Bank HQ may set off an array of banking metaphors and idioms, let’s vault over those and talk about how the Merchant Hotel (5*) has a dazzling mix of Art Deco chic and Victorian pomp that will leave you awe-struck. This hotel’s stunning luxury spa, fine dining menus and glorious afternoon teas will confirm this as the best escape plan ever planned. High above, you can use the rooftop gymnasium and enjoy panoramic city views as you work out. And with the Cathedral Quarter on your doorstep, your will find yourself in the heart of the city.

5* Fitzwilliam Hotel

Awarded Five Stars by the AA, The Fitzwilliam Hotel is a super-elegant masterpiece located beside the Grand Opera House. With 146 fabulous guestrooms and suites, incredible food, a much-loved bar and exceptional  service, this hotel is booming with elegance as the design redefines what hotel chicness is all about.

4* Malmaison Hotel

This one-time seed warehouse is one of Belfast’s landmark buildings, just a short walk to Titanic Quarter, Cathedral Quarter and Victoria Square. This intimate hotel boasts 62 individually designed bedrooms with all the Malmaison ingredients – including plasma screen TV and DVD/CD player, drench showers, naughty nibbles and exclusive toiletries. In addition, there are two rock n roll ‘Samson and Goliath’ suites with free standing baths, gas fires, Bose sound systems and even a purple baize pool table in the Samson suite. A bright and stylish brasserie serves classic French bistro style cooking and locally inspired dishes.

4* Grand Central Hotel

If you’ve a head for heights, and a taste for luxury, how about a stay in Northern Ireland’s tallest hotel?  The most recent addition to the Belfast hotel scene, it is based in the Linen Quarter and comes complete with a Bistro, Seahorse Restaurant and 23rd floor rooftop cocktail bar, The Observatory.  It is the highest bar in all of Ireland with views across Belfast and beyond. The art deco nods, high ceilings and sense of space add a distinctive drama.

Harrison Chambers of Distinction

The Harrison Chambers of Distinction Belfast are restored, landmark Victorian merchants’ residences dating from 1879 designed to serve the culturally curious traveller. Each of the 17 rooms combines pieces collected by owner Melanie with the very best facilities that the 21st-century traveller demands and expects. Huge bay windows, antique furniture, sumptuous velvet curtains and bathtubs in the bedrooms combine elegance with underlying mischief and tongue-in-cheek humour lurking beneath. Eccentric curios and surprises await to delight around every corner.

5* Rayanne House

Venture to the Belfast suburbs for the best balance between city centre access and room to move. The Victorian elegance of Rayanne House (5*) in Holywood is a boutique 10-bedroom gem and private restaurant with spectacular views over Belfast Lough. Its ‘Titanic Menu’ has achieved global renown; a nine-course recreation of the dinner served to the First Class passengers on board the great Belfast built ship.

Behind the Derry~Londonderry Walls

4* Bishop’s Gate Hotel

This listed building built in 1899 boasts stunning Edwardian architecture which has been sensitively restored in homage to its rich heritage. An iconic landmark with a unique history, the hotel is an intimate urban oasis featuring 31 luxurious guestrooms, fitness area, The Wig and Gown Champagne Bar and Restaurant and the Hervey Library. You will follow the footsteps of some illustrious visitors to the hotel, among them Winston Churchill, Field Marshall Montgomery and poet W.B. Yeats.

4* Shipquay Hotel

Overlooking the Old City Walls and Derry’s famous Guildhall, this Grade 2 listed building is luxurious and intimate. With 21 bedrooms, many with views over the city’s famous landmarks, delicious food and wine in the restaurant and moreish cocktails in Lock & Quay Bar, Shipquay oozes personality, character and style throughout.

*All accommodation featured has been through Tourism Northern Ireland’s certification process and hold the We’re Good to Go industry standard which shows they have agreed to comply with Covid-19 safety guidelines.

For more information on great places to visit when it is safe to do so, visit

Visitors should be sure to check availability directly with each provider and to be aware of each venue’s cancellation policy when booking.

New Belfast Radio Station Launches With Strong Local Focus

New radio station, Belfast 247, launches on Monday, May 10, at 10am, with a strong emphasis on local voices, local artists, as well as all the best hits to fill your day.

Broadcasting online, via the station app on Apple and Google, on smart speakers and later on this year broadcasting on the digital DAB platform.

The line-up includes many well-known, experienced, local presenters, including Kenny Tosh, who will host the breakfast show ‘Wake, Rattle and Roll.

Former CityBeat & Q Radio presenter Robin Elliott takes up the Mid-Morning Show after recently leaving Belfast 89FM.

Radio & TV Presenter Elliott, who has 25 years in broadcasting, said that he is excited about the launch of Belfast 247.

“It’s great to be working with a team of experienced presenters who are all passionate about music,” he said “We will be playing all the best music from 60’s to 90’s as well as featuring new tunes from the vast array of local music talent that we have here in Northern Ireland.

“The decision to launch a new station means that we are providing a strong brand to meet listeners needs with a focus on quality with a team who are familiar voices to listeners in the area.”

Among the many special guests set to appear is T’Pau’s Carol Decker, best remembered for hits such as China In Your Hand.

Kenny Tosh has more than 40 years’ experience in radio. “Belfast 247 will be playing music that other stations can’t play, and I am delighted to get up at 4.30am to play music I love,” he explained.

Over the years Kenny has worked at BBC 3 Counties Radio, Palm FM Torquay, Citybeat, Q97 (Head of music), U105, & Downtown Radio. His Revival Show can be heard weekly on stations in Australia, New Zealand, The Ukraine, USA & Canada.

Chris Hughes has been involved in Television and Radio from the early 1990’s, and has been a TV script writer, including Town Challenge and Saints and Scholars.

“I am looking forward to putting local back into the afternoons with lots of features, competitions and great guests,” he explained.  “We will have regular contributors that will include Belfast author and historian Joe Baker and Restaurant Critic Joris Minne”

Robin Elliott said that the overall aim of Belfast 247 will be to make sure that the listener experience remains to the fore in everything they do.

“To launch a new radio station in the internet era is one that reflects the demand for people to be able to tune into something that is local to them,” he said. “We know that our listeners want to be able find a station that resonates with them.

“The app, and the online station, are part of making sure they can access Belfast 247 with ease, or even tell your Alexa or Google smart speaker to tune in,” he said. “It is also why we are finalising our DAB broadcast, so that in the near future you can listen when driving around the city.”

Tune in on Monday on

Northern Ireland destinations for you and your pooch

Dog-friendly accommodation offerings Northern Ireland

With staycations on the horizon this summer what could be more ‘pawfect’ than embracing Northern Ireland’s Giant Spirit with your four-legged friend coming along for the journey?

During the past year, more people than ever have been welcoming some furry friends into their family, with a surge in the number of puppies being bought across Ireland. For many of these pups, this year’s staycation will be their first time staying away from their home and owners may be fretting about the logistics of taking short breaks with their beloved pets.

Across Northern Ireland visitors can find warm and welcoming pet-friendly accommodation. From private dog cabins to special dog treat menus, to an array of walks and trails to explore, destinations across Northern Ireland are ‘ruff’ and ready to welcome guests and their four-legged loved one.

Discover Northern Ireland has put together the ultimate list of dog-friendly destinations for all the family to enjoy.

County Antrim

Dunamoy Cottages & Spa (4*), Ballyclare

  • Dunamoy cottages are hand-built stone cottages, renovated from 200-year-old farm buildings nestled between Ballyclare and Ballymena on the Causeway Coast. These self-catering cottages comes with living area, TV, Freeview, DVD, bathroom with bath and shower attached, fully equipped country kitchen and dining area. For timeout for you, check out their luxury spa offering.

Fullerton Arms (4*), Ballintoy

  • Voted NI Dog-friendly Bar of the Year in 2016 and 2017, this guesthouse, bar and restaurant where old meets new is no stranger to a wagging tail. Fresh decor, decadent menus and casual yet friendly table service. With three of its ten deluxe bedrooms designated dog-friendly, this comfy, modern guesthouse appreciates that your pet is part and parcel of your holiday experience and stock tasty dog treats behind the bar for post-walkies rewards. The Fullerton Arms is also in an ideal location for exploring Game of Thrones® locations and Ballintoy Harbour.

County Armagh

Ballydougan Pottery Courtyard Cottages, (4*), Portadown, 

  • At Ballydougan Pottery Courtyard Cottages there are a number of cottages to choose from – Bramley Apple Cottage, Wheat Loft Apartment, Gaskins Grove, Dobsons Corner and Potters Cottage – all of which are pet friendly. There’s on-site pottery where you can try your hand at throwing a pot or two – can you resist throwing a food bowl for your four-legged friend? Located in a quiet, rural area convenient to Lough Neagh, there are also opportunities for dog walking at nearby Craigavon Lakes.


AC Hotel Belfast (4*)

  • Bring up to two pets per bedroom to this riverside city centre hotel and enjoy contemporary bedrooms with thoughtful touches of luxury such as king size beds and Nespresso coffee makers. Explore Belfast on foot or paw with Titanic Belfast, City Hall, and the shops of Victoria Square a short walk away. Why not visit dog-friendly bars such as Pug Ugly’s or the Dirty Onion?

County Down

Gracey’s Barn, (4*), Newry

  • Gracey’s Barn offer luxurious and comfortable self-catering accommodation a stone’s throw from the beautiful Mourne Mountains & Slieve Gullion. There’s a two-bedroom refurbished barn for you, and a separate utility for your pet to sleep adjacent to your rooms, as well as generous private parking, a fully contained garden for your dog to roam freely, and a BBQ area. Babysitting can also be arranged on request and there is availability for additional sleeping facilities with a double sofa bed.

County Fermanagh

Ashbrooke House (5*), Enniskillen

  • Who says a five-star Georgian House and a four-legged friend can’t mix? Located on the 1000-acre Colebrooke Estate with endless walks and trails on offer as well as art courses, horse riding, yoga retreats and a decadent hot tub for guests. Ashbrooke House presents self-catering and catered accommodation options, sleeping 16 in eight luxurious bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. This discreetly private stately home is surrounded by beautiful landscape with rolling hills and a charming river.

County Londonderry

Beech Hill Country House, (4*), Londonderry

  • Beech Hill Country House Hotel, gloriously situated between woodland, lakes and tranquil well tended gardens, and just a short distance from the Walled City of Derry, is famed for its warm welcomes and fine food. With a dedicated pet policy best suited to the most well-behaved (and adorable) pets, you can bring your cat or dog to stay in their spacious suites and they can roam around 32 acres of woodland freely. There’s even a cheeky Pawsecco or Doggy Beer on arrival, along with a special blanket, treat and water bowl just for your pet. Dog grooming and a pet walking service are available for an additional fee.

County Tyrone

Finn Valley Cottages, (4*), Strabane

  • Finn Valley self-catering cottages range from one bed to four bed lodgings, are tastefully decorated throughout, accessible for guests with limited mobility and offer a long list of amenities from BBQ area to playroom. Each cottage has a self-contained utility room perfect for your pet. With hillwalking and trails through the Sperrin Mountains, there are plenty of outdoor pursuits to keep your dog entertained and exercised. The cottages have fabulous views and easy access to local facilities like fishing (salmon and trout in Rivers Finn and Mourne), cycling and golfing for your peaceful, rural based holiday.

*All accommodation featured holds the We’re Good to Go industry standard which shows they have agreed to comply with Covid-19 safety guidelines.

For more information on great places to visit when it is safe to do so, visit

When planning and visiting, please check visitor guidelines and opening times with individual providers and always follow current COVID-19 travel restrictions, available at

Guy Martin Heading to Armoy

GUY Martin when interviewed by the BBC Northern Ireland has confirmed he intends to be at this year’s Armoy Road Races which highlights the high regard the top riders have for this testing three-mile road race.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 25/7/2015: Tyco BMW’s Guy Martin celebrates winning the Open race at Armoy road races today. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Bill Kennedy MBE Clerk of the Course at the Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club said he was thrilled to hear the news. He said, “Guy Martin has always been a great supporter of the Armoy Road Races and raced at Armoy up until 2015, thereafter he occasionally competed in classic and classic superbike races.

“We know that Guy would love to be back at Armoy and riding in the Classics race, but we also understand that his diary this year is pretty packed, including trying to achieve 300mph on a motorbike amidst a few projects the timing of which we believe have not been confirmed yet.

“Like all things Guy, until he’s on the boat and heading to Armoy, or even driving into the paddock, just before the races, we’ll not know for sure. However, his intention to race at the 2021 Armoy Road Races will be a great boost for the spectators and the Club.”

Guy who won the Torquetronix Superbike Race in 2015 for Tyco-BMW Motorrad Racing has previously said “It’s a right well organised meeting” and he “always tries to fit the Armoy in” but if he does race this year, he’ll be racing in the Senior Classics as opposed to racing in the Superbike or Open Races.

Bill continued; “To date, we are doing very well for race entries but we’ve some time yet. All entries are required to be in by the closing date Monday 28th June 2021. Likewise, our spectator passes, which we launched last month, due to the pandemic restrictions are also going well. We know that there are many keen to attend the event, and also keen to understand the restrictions but the only thing I’ll say, particularly in this ever-changing world, is that the Club will be doing its very best to run these races and do so, safely.

“We understand there are lots of questions and to that end we have a frequently asked question page, where we address riders and spectators’ questions as best as possible. We’ve less than three months to the races and circumstances could very well change again – we’ll just have to wait and see.

“What I do know is that everyone is behind us, we’ve been working on the course already and we are finalising sponsors as I speak, although I think that’ll take a few weeks longer. There’ll be racing in Armoy on Friday and Saturday, the 30th and 31st July and the likes of Guy Martin in the mix is very welcome news indeed.”

For more information visit or search for ‘AMRRC’ on Facebook or follow on twitter @ArmoyRoadRaces.

Author William Clegg Celebrates Book Listing In Stewart Miller Stores

Excalibur Press author William Clegg celebrating his latest book Crime, Comedy & Combat being stocked in Stewart Miller stores Holywood and Newtownards.

Crime, Comedy & Combat Tells Story Of Life On The Frontline

Author William Clegg is celebrating the stocking of his debut book Crime, Comedy & Combat in Stewart Miller stores in Holywood and Newtownards.

The book, released in November 2020, is the former RUC officer’s story of 21 years on the frontline as a serving Police officer.

William said: “I’m delighted that Stewart Miller’s have decided to support the book by stocking it in their Holywood and Newtownards stores. It’s a great boost of confidence and a fantastic way of getting the story out to more people.”

Crime, Comedy & Combat traces William’s life from childhood, through to his experiences in the police force during some of Northern Ireland’s darkest days. 

“I joined the RUC in Enniskillen,” William said, adding: “and, for the next 21 years, I and my colleagues lived – and worked – through the horrors of The Troubles. 

“I wrote the book because, even though Northern Ireland is now, thankfully, living in relative peace, I wanted to show people – young people in particular – what life was like for RUC officers at that time. 

“I wanted to reflect the horrific experiences that we went through, and how we coped physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Tina Calder of publishers Excalibur Press believes that William’s tales will resonate with people across Northern Ireland.

“Having independent book shops like Stewart Millers supporting work like this book from William Clegg is testament to the great writing and stories we have to tell here in Northern Ireland” said Tina.

“Excalibur Press were delighted to publish this great anthology of stories from William’s experience. For the last year, we have all been forced to deal with the challenges created by a global pandemic, but we must never forget – regardless of your allegiances – that we lived through some very dark days. William’s story is the human face of those dark days.”

Although he now lives in Indonesia, William’s thoughts are never far from the province and from the colleagues he was proud to serve with in the most challenging times that Northern Ireland has ever known.

“I’m so pleased to see that the people of Northern Ireland – which is a beautiful country – are now able to enjoy relative peace, but I don’t think we can ever truly forget the risk and challenges that serving police officers experienced during the times of conflict. 

“We’ve now had more than 20 years of peace and I totally appreciate that young people will have little or no memory of what The Troubles were like at their height. It was an extremely bleak period and I am proud of how the RUC – my colleagues throughout Northern Ireland – coped with what they witnessed and lived through. I joined the RUC as a young man and so my life was very much shaped by my experiences. Crime, Comedy and Combat is my attempt to reflect our experiences in their entirety. 

“I sincerely hope that this anthology will ring true with anyone, who experienced life in Northern Ireland at that time, whether security services or others.

In Crime, Comedy & Combat William tells his story for people of all ages, how a young person’s life changed during the Troubles, joining the RUC, and the incidents and emotions that coloured his life.

Crime, Comedy and Combat, published by Excalibur Press is available from Amazon and