Culture Minister Nelson McCausland intervention over festival programme

Culture minister Nelson Mc Causland has defended asking the organisers of the Belfast Festival at Queen's to include pro-Israeli views and Christian music.

The minister seemed to demand the Belfast festival organizer into including some southern gospel music he also wants a view sympathetic to Israel in any relevant talk or debate.

It seems that minister nelson McCausland demands were made in an email to the director of the Belfast Festival, which was obtained through a freedom of information request.

Minister Nelson McCauland become culture minister in June 2009 he attended a dinner with the Vice Chancellor of Queen's to discuss this year's festival programme.

Nelson McCausland and some of his officials held the meeting with staff from Queen's, including the festival director Graeme Farrow, in March 2010 to discuss the content of the festival.

The Belfast Festival is supported by a number of funders. Its major sponsor is the Ulster Bank which announced a three-year sponsorship deal of £1m in 2008.

It has also received £300,000 in funding from DCAL over the past three years, and it will receive £100,000 from the Arts Council through its annual funding stream in 2011.

University tuition fees 'to rise'

Graduates in UK will have to pay significantly more for their degrees at university.

The recent decision by the UK government to raise tuition fees has left many students and their families confused over the suggestions of going to university because of tuition fees rising.

Many universities are expected to charge between £6,000 and £7,000 annually, but they will have the option to charge more.

UK government plans to axe the education maintenance allowance next year.

The government plans to scrap the scheme in England, which is aimed at encouraging poorer pupils to stay in education, from September this year.

Supporters of the EMA, which is worth up to £30 a week, say it stops thousands of students dropping out.

We interviewed a sixth year from our school to get different opinions.

Grace, 17 said:

“I believe that the fact that the EMAs are being cut is a total disgrace and an excuse for the government to take more money from people who simply don’t have it to bail themselves out. I agree that people do abuse it but for people like myself who just can’t ask for money it’s a gift and to have that taken away will cause unnecessarily financial difficulties for these who are to young to experience such worries.”

We also asked Grace if see thought that there would be less people applying because of the EMAs issues. Grace told us:

“On the face of it I do see how it would put a lot of people off going to university, but when you look at the details – great boundaries and are being risen and those who enter university in the year 2011/2012 may have there fees frozen for the duration of their degree, not only that but you pay it back after you pay it back after you earn a certain amount, though this is a pain (longer payment of debts) I would personally think that over not going to university any day and risk the chance of not getting the job I want because I don’t have the required degree.”

We asked Mr Murray, Head of Careers what he thought about the EMAs getting cut. Mr Murray said:
   “The government are looking to cut spending on government and services so it’s a choice between EMAs or hospitals.

In an ideal world it would be good that EMA can be imitated I think EMA has encouraged other students to return to school.

I don’t think anyone will benefit from cutting EMA.

I think EMA cuts will reduce the students applying for university because they are getting into debt. A lot of people won’t study for A-levels because they aren’t getting EMA and they don’t want to go to school anymore.”

We also asked Caitríona Ruane – Minister of Education a few questions to see what she thought of EMAs getting cut. Although this isn’t her direct responsibility Minister Ruane expressed great interest in the issue. She has, she said, made it clear to DEL that her position is very much in support of EMA.

Minister Ruane said:

“I don’t believe EMAs should be cut. Young people from working class families need support.

Sinn Fein doesn’t believe the cap from universities should lifted.

I think it’s great that young people are protesting and standing up for what they believe in. Protests are a great way of making changes and taking action.”

By Eimear, 14


European Music Awards.   The European Music Awards is a massive event on the music industry calendar and will be held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Last year the event was held in Madrid.  Such celebrities like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Rihanna attended.

Our team member and interviewer Lauren interviewed a pupil, Aoife and a teacher, Miss McAllister.

If you click on the video you can see what they both had to say.