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.

Mr McCrossan is now seeking an urgent meeting with officials He said: “Bank of Ireland’s plan to close their Castlederg branch represents a serious blow for a rural community in the West. Following today’s announcement, I have immediately written to the Chief Executive expressing my very serious concerns and requesting an urgent meeting about this matter.
“The people who make these decisions need to understand the impact on our community – it should not all be about profits and turnover.
“I am increasingly concerned about the removal of banking services in rural areas across West Tyrone, which assume that all the bank’s customers will be able to use online banking, or simply go to a different branch which may be miles away. These are not realistic options for many and particularly for some of our older population that have used the bank for years.
“I have written to Bank of Ireland seeking an urgent meeting and urging them to seriously reconsider this move.”

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.’

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell has announced a £4million expansion by Bloc Blinds that will create 93 new manufacturing jobs in Magherafelt by 2018. Supported by Invest Northern Ireland and First Trust Bank, Bloc Blinds’ investment includes new manufacturing facilities and extensive market development activities to help drive export sales, particularly in Europe and the US.

Jonathan Bell said: “Bloc Blinds is a growing innovative business and this announcement is welcome news for Magherafelt and the local manufacturing industry. The significant investment in new premises, recruitment of the new staff and increased marketing and development activities will help Bloc Blinds position itself a global player in the window covering market.

“The 93 new manufacturing jobs to be recruited over the next three years will contribute £1.7million annually in additional salaries to the local economy. With full manufacturing and multi skilled training provided to all production employees at Bloc Blinds, this expansion offers attractive roles for those returning to work or seeking alternative employment.

“Invest Northern Ireland’s offer of £465,000 is helping this indigenous manufacturer to implement its growth plans quickly so it can maximise opportunities in a worldwide market.”

Bloc Blinds specialises in the design and manufacture of window blinds and recently moved into its renovated and extended new premises at Station Road, Magherafelt.

Cormac Diamond, Managing Director of Bloc Blinds, said: “This exciting investment follows encouraging business growth in recent years and underpins our ambition to increase sales particularly in Europe and the US.

“Our new manufacturing facility brings the current Bloc Blind lines under the one roof which will help increase production and operating efficiencies. The support and advice of Invest Northern Ireland so far has been invaluable and its support with this expansion will ensure that we have the resources and skill set in place to achieve our goals.”

First Trust Bank is also supporting Bloc Blinds’ business development activities. Welcoming the investment and job creation announcement, Edel McCooe, Regional Director, First Trust Bank said: “Bloc Blinds has built up a strong reputation as an innovator due to their clever, precise designs and solutions and this is being reflected in their growing customer base right across the UK, Europe and America. We have supported Cormac and his vision for the company over the last 10 years and we are delighted to back their latest growth and expansion phase which is creating skilled jobs for local people and helping to ensure Northern Ireland’s prowess for innovative manufacturing solutions is known world-wide.” marketing

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,

February 2020
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