The company, which develops integrated software and professional services solutions, for financial services, telecoms and retail customers, is extending its engineering capabilities to support the company’s growth. Crossvale makes extensive use of Software AG’s webMethods platform and Red Hat’s subscription based solutions, for customers including a multinational Spanish banking group and a Saudi Arabian Telecom Corporation.

Welcoming the company to Northern Ireland Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest NI, said: “Once again it is the availability of high quality software engineers that has attracted this US company to Northern Ireland.  This, combined with low staff turnover, low costs and Invest NI support has secured this mobile project and the new developer roles for Northern Ireland.”

“The new roles, with an average salary of £38,000, will be created over the next two years, with the majority of roles in place by the end of 2017.  Invest NI has offered the company support towards the new jobs, helping to leverage nearly £500,000 of investment in the economy through annual salaries.”

Conor Brankin, CEO of Crossvale said: “Our new engineering centre in Belfast will support our company’s growth and help service both our existing US clients, as well new clients in the UK, Republic of Ireland and the Middle East.”

Ian Purdy, Crossvale Europe Managing Director continued: “We spent a lot of time considering where the right location for our new software centre should be. 

The local talent here is hard to beat and we are keen to recruit both experienced developers and recent graduates.

The Crossvale Group was established in 2001 by local Entrepreneur, Conor Brankin, who started his working career with British Telecom in Northern Ireland in 1992, after graduating from The University of Manchester with a BEng, in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan has called for a special dispensation for Northern Ireland in the wake of the EU Referendum vote.

 Mr McCrossan was speaking after party leader Colum Eastwood met European leaders and Heads of State at the PES Presidency meeting in Paris this week.

 He said:

“After successfully leading the campaign for a remain vote in Northern Ireland, the SDLP is now leading the campaign to defend the democratically stated will of people in the North.

“This week we have held discussions with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, the leaders of Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party, SNP Europe Spokesperson Stephen Gethins MP, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and last night Colum Eastwood addressed European Leaders and Heads of State. We are making the case across this island and across our continent that Northern Ireland must have a special dispensation that reflects and respects the will of people here. A majority voted in favour of remaining in Europe, their decision cannot be ignored and they will not consent to being dragged out.  

“We will work alongside a progressive axis with those of influence in Europe to ensure that as negotiations get underway, they do so in our favour. The island must speak with one voice – united and indivisible in the face of an aggressive isolationist agenda in Britain.


The Rainbow Project, the largest organisation in Northern Ireland, which promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people has launched the second phase of its campaign to remove unnecessary and stigmatising barriers to gay and bisexual men becoming blood donors on World Blood Donor Day (14th June).

Earlier this month, 8 days after her appointment to the position of Minister of Health for Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill MLA announced that she would instruct the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service to amend its protocols and remove the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. This move brought Northern Ireland into line with the other regions of the UK and was welcomed by The Rainbow Project as a historic decision as well as recognition of the campaigning which The Rainbow Project and many other activists have been vocal about for 10 years.

However, the new regulations state that gay and bisexual men can only become blood donors if they have refrained from sex with another man for 12 months; meaning that the vast majority of gay and bisexual men are still barred from becoming donors, even those in long-term monogamous relationships who pose absolutely no risk to the blood supply.

To this end, The Rainbow Project has announced that it will continue to campaign for blood donation policies which are based on evidence and risk and not on the sexual orientation of potential donors; a policy which stigmatises gay and bisexual men. The Rainbow Project has also announced that it will form a partnership with US-based advocacy campaign Blood Equality to highlight the international nature of the bans on blood donations from gay and bisexual men and to share best practice and evidence.

Speaking about the blood donations campaign and international partnership, John O’Doherty, Director of The Rainbow Project said:

‘We were delighted to see the end of the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, and we thank Minister O’Neill for moving so quickly on this policy change. However, as we have made clear for many years, we do not just want to exchange the lifetime ban for an unreasonable one year deferral. Instead we want blood donation policies which are based on science not stigma and which do not automatically write off a whole community as a ‘threat’ to others.

‘At The Rainbow Project, we recognise that this issue is not merely confined to Northern Ireland or the UK, but is a global issue where gay and bisexual men are denied the ability to donate blood for no other reason than their sexual orientation. To this end, we are delighted to announce our partnership with the US-based campaign Blood Equality who, like us, are campaigning for blood donation policy to be based on science and not stigma. This partnership will allow us to develop more international links for sourcing and sharing the best available scientific evidence so that we can finally do away with discriminatory blood bans and have blood donation policy based on risk and not sexual orientation.

‘This international partnership is important to us to show our solidarity with our LGB&T family across the world and to build relationships with our community in other countries. At this time, we mourn the horrendous violence and loss of life from the homophobic attack on Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, but a bitter irony is that, while hospitals were calling out for blood donations to save the lives of victims, gay and bisexual men were still banned from donating blood to their LGB&T sisters and brothers. This must end.’

SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan has called on the new Health Minister to guarantee the future of daytime care services in Gortin and Dromore for older people. Sinn Fein were part of a cross party campain to stop the closure of these services planned by the previous DUP Health Minister.

Mr McCrossan said: “In the last mandate we welcomed vocal support from Sinn Fein in our campaign to maintain daytime care services in Gortin and Dromore. Their MLAs pledged to do all they could to fight for the future of its service users and staff. Now that Sinn Fein have been left with the Health portfolio, they now have the power to make good on their promises.

“The new Health Minister Michelle O’Neill must guarantee the future of these vital services in their current locations. If she does not, id she proceeds with their removal, Sinn Fein will be directly responsible for the further isolation of vulnerable older people living in rural communities.

“Sinn Fein must now demonstrate that their support for this cause goes beyond strong words in the paper and a photo-opportunity.”

A Tyrone student has been presented with a top award in this year’s 62nd Texaco Children¹s Art Competition.

Pictured is Cameron Dobson (7), a pupil at The Howard Primary, Moygashel, who won a Special Merit Award in the competition. Presenting him with the award is James Twohig, Director Ireland Operations of Valero.


SDLP West Tyrone Assembly Candidate Daniel McCrossan has called on Apex Housing to reverse their decision to close Bell Gray Nursing Home, Newtownstewart with the loss of up to 40 local jobs.

Speaking on Friday Mr McCrossan said: “I was extremely disappointment to hear of this decision that will see the vital care services in Newtownstewart dismantled over the next two years.

“Apex have cited a lack of demand but according to their staff, the 30 beds at Bell Gray have been at more or less full capacity for the past few years.

“I visited staff and residents today and this news will be a heavy blow for them. In their statement Apex have fallen short of guaranteeing job security for staff and living security for residents. I feel this will only come from the continued operation of services at Bell Gray.

“Both staff and residents have the full support of the SDLP and we will do all we can to prevent this closure.”

The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore is a trilogy set in a time where the British Empire has never ended and America is just a virtual world hosted on a vast global game network, Jonas Moore, a character personally created by the network’s founder, is thrown into a world where characters, creatures and monsters are all slaves to the gamers from the real world.

It is a unique project becuase of the format in which it tells the story, it is a relatively new technique using CGI, live action & 2D animation in a comic book style setting. All elements are meshed together to tell a great story set in an alternative England, where gaming has become a way of life, where characters and games are so realistic they seem to take on a life of their own.

Jonas Moore

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Putting art into action, local women are giving three fundraising performances of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler in The Black Box, Waring Street, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter on 25, 26 and 27 June. With an entirely voluntary cast and crew, proceeds will be donated to Belfast Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre.  Doors open at 7.30pm for performance at 8pm. Tickets will be available on the door for £7/ 5 concession.

Having lost all of its governmental funding, Belfast Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre is struggling to keep its doors open.  This event aims to raise awareness of the desperate financial situation the centre is in.  Paula Wynburne, Fundraiser at the centre says every penny raised is sorely needed,

“Unfortunately the numbers of calls to the centre increase year on year. Our work also includes accompanying women to court, social services, police, in fact anything they need.  Our holistic approach has put great strain on our meagre funds and outreach and education work has had to be cut, as has the vital training of new volunteers to answer the phone.”

A VaginART Exhibition will run alongside the performances in The Black Box, featuring exciting work from local artists. The exhibition will also be open to the general public at The Black Box from 9am-6pm on 26 and 27 June.  Following the final performance on 27 June, at 10pm there will be a vaginART auction, where several exceptional pieces of work will be sold, in aid of the Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre.

Producers, Camel Hartley and Emilie Weiderud, see Ensler’s play as art for social change, “There is still far too little being done to highlight the prevalence of violence against women in our society and consequently a lack of funding to help victims of rape and sexual violence. All over the world women are performing The Vagina Monologues to raise money for projects in their community. We are proud to bring this remarkable play to Belfast.”

For the performers, The Vagina Monologues is seen as a rite of passage, for the audience, a powerful theatre experience. The producers promise it will not only raise funds and awareness but many laughs and quite a few eyebrows. This play will keep being performed until the violence stops.

Further details of the Belfast production of The Vagina Monologues can be found at Group rates are being offered for NI women’s groups. Belfast Rape Crisis Centre’s Helpline is 02890 329002 or visit,

Mel C got a surprise during her visit to Belfast this week when she met a group of local children who’d love her job!

The ex-spice girl met up with finalists of ‘Citybeat’s Young Star Search’ to offer tips and advise on how to make it in the music business. All summer Citybeat have been travelling to different locations across Northern Ireland listening to kids aged 8-16 with the aim to finding an a ‘Young Star’.

Commenting Mel said “Its so important for kids to get involved with music from an early age – the children I’ve heard today have sounded brilliant and I wish them the best of luck in the competition”.

Mel went as far to offer the kids some advice “ Practice as much as can, work hard and get involved in music at school, maybe even form your own wee band and meet up with people who have a similar interest”.

But Mel had one big ‘no go’ for the children “ Never smoke – it’ll ruin your voice, if your serious about wanting to sing – whatever you do don’t even think about starting to smoking”

Commenting on Mel’s visit Stuart said “ It’s fantastic that someone of Mel C’s calibre visited our studio to meet the children. The kids were delighted to have met her and had a lot of questions for her. These children are all under 16 but they already have lots of talent and I’m sure they’ll find any tips from an ex-Spice Girl very helpful”.

The Citybeat Young Star Search continues over the next couple of weeks. Each week judges who include Hollyoaks actor Gerald McCarthy and the X Factor’s Shaun pick a selection of finalists who go on Citybeat for the public vote.

In July all the overall regional winners will compete at the grand final at Castle Court in Belfast.

All the singers from the ‘Young Star Search’ can be heard on including video clips from all heats.

February 2020
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