Production of unmanned fighter jets to create 100 jobs in Belfast

A £30 million contract, spread across 3 years to build prototype combat aircraft will create 100 new jobs in Belfast.

The aircraft will be unmanned and designed to fly at high speed alongside manned fighter jets. The prototypes will be armed with missiles, state of the art surveillance technology and electronic warfare technology. The new aircraft has been nicknamed the “loyal wingman”.

Spirit AeroSystems, based in Belfast, will lead the development team in the next phase of the project. The team will further develop the RAF’s Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept, with a full-scale vehicle flight-test programme expected by the end of 2023.

The Ministry for Defence have said the Loyal Wingman will be the UK’s first uncrewed aircraft which will have the capabilities to target and shoot down enemy aircraft and survive against surface-to-air missiles.

A visualisation of the ‘loyal wingman’.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis welcomed the news saying “This is fantastic news and underlines the distinct strengths in Northern Ireland’s economy, through its advanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities.”

“This ground-breaking project will involve significant investment which will not only support local employment, but also reinforce Northern Ireland’s contribution to the security of our nation.”

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Aldi to create 1,050 new jobs in 2021

German discount retailer Aldi is to recruit 1,050 new employees this year across Ireland.

700 of the jobs are full-time while the remaining 350 jobs are temporary positions.

The announcement of the new jobs follows the news that Aldi are opening four new stores in the coming months in Dunshaughlin, Douglas, Newbridge and Bayside. These new stores will add to their already existing 145 stores across Ireland. Aldi have already said they wish to double the number of stores they have in Dublin where they currently have 23 stores.

Aldi had recruited an additional 500 staff since the coronavirus pandemic began last year.

Announcing the new jobs, Niall O’Connor, Group Managing Director at Aldi Ireland said:

“Our staff have played a central role in ensuring people have had access to essential best value groceries in a safe environment.

Additional investment for 2021 in new stores, store extensions and Project Fresh store upgrades confirms our continued commitment to the Irish economy”

The news of the new jobs was welcomed by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar who said:

“I’m really glad to see Aldi continuing to offer both the living wage and sick pay to all employees, two benefits I would like to see more employers offering.

I would like to thank them for their continued commitment to providing opportunities for Irish food and drink producer.”

“Aldi” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Galway woman’s kind nursing home initiative receives outpouring support

How a Facebook post seeking donations for local nursing homes became a nationwide project.

The luxury about feel good stories is that they have no expiration date within the news. So when we first heard about this story yesterday, even though it occurred over Christmas, it was too good not to spread the word of how one woman ended up co-ordinating the delivery of 10,000 presents to nursing homes across Ireland.

Like all good modern day stories, it started with a Facebook post. Geraldine Monaghan of Caherlistrane posted on Facebook seeking donations for a number of nursing homes within her vicinity. The idea had been prompted by An Post’s initiative which allowed free post and small packages to be delivered to Nursing Homes for free until the end of January.

With us all in a lockdown at the start of December, access to Nursing Homes to see loved ones had been heavily restricted, An Post gave people the opportunity to send in post/gifts to loved ones for free. The difference in this case is Geraldine did not even have anybody related to her in any care facilities. Her initiative was being done out of the kindness of her heart. She felt compelled to send something to care facilities in recognition of the tough year residents and staff had endured.

According to Geraldine, she put up a Facebook post asking people to contact her if they wanted to send something into any care facilities. The simple idea went viral and was shared 900 times and got over 1,000 likes (if only our social media guy could replicate such a feat).

The response was massive. Countless messages were sent to Geraldine, so much so, that she required extra help and her friend Stephen Griffin was brought on board to assist. From there a website was born

It enabled people to choose out of hundreds of nursing homes across the island and send a care package. Some 10,000 presents have been sent from the website over the Christmas period.

A truly wonderful Christmas time story and shows that even in our darkest days, people like Geraldine offer hope to us all that kindness will never cease to exist.

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EU Medicines Agency approves the use of the Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine

Authorisation for the use of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has been granted by the EU Medicines Agency.

This is the second Covid-19 vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after they approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine earlier in December and which is being currently rolled out across the European Union.

The Moderna vaccine uses the same mRNA technology as that of the Pfizer vaccine and also requires two separate injections a few weeks apart. The vaccine requires to be stored at -20’C which causes less of a logistical headache than that of the Pfizer vaccine which has to be stored at -75’C and is currently stored in nine ultra-low temperature freezer.

The EU has already agreed to a deal with Moderna that will see the EU receive an initial 80 million doses of the vaccine. The vaccine now just needs to be approved by the EU Commission which should occur within the next 24 hours.

It is estimated that Ireland will receive just shy of 900,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine under its arrangement with the EU which distributes the vaccine to EU member states on a pro rata population bases.

The EU holds an option of purchasing a further 80 millions doses of the Moderna vaccine, an offer that will likely be taken up.

It has been suggested that when the Moderna vaccine arrives in Ireland, the health service will be able to increase the number of people being vaccinated by 10,000 a week in the first few weeks of the roll-out.

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