Thursday 13 February 2014

Bone-marrow and stem cell donation

Thought it was important to share this:

With a lot of talk about organ donation in the press, please also spare a thought for those who require life saving bone-marrow/stem-cell transplants but cannot get a match - people like wee 3 year old Charlie Craig, who is currently undergoing chemo for leukaemia and requires a stem cell transplant. Charlie is from Lisburn and has family links in Cookstown. Finding a donor match for Charlie is proving challenging as he has a unique cell type, but there will be someone somewhere who is a perfect match for Charlie and let's hope that person is found sooner rather than later.

I was one of the lucky 30% of stem-cell transplant recipients who found a donor in the family (thank you Brenda xxx) but for patients like wee Charlie, the process isn't as straightforward, and they rely on the kindness of strangers - so please, please do give consideration to the possibility of becoming a donor, as you could become a life saver and that's an absolutely amazing, incredible and unbelievable thing to have achieved in your lifetime.

There are various ways you can register to become a potential bone-marrow donor:

I've spoken with NI Blood Transfusion Service and they have advised me that anyone between the ages of 17-49 who currently donates blood through them, can register to become a bone-marrow donor. If you are interested, mention it to their staff the next time you go along to a blood donation session and they will take it from there...basically they will get a sample from you at your next blood donation session and send it off for testing etc. Your record will then be added to the British Bone Marrow Registry and they will contact you thereafter should you be a match for a patient.
There is loads of brilliant and useful information here:

There are also a couple of fantastic charities that work tirelessly to find donors for patients who cannot find a match.

Anthony Nolan register: If you're aged 16-30 please consider joining this register. Check out all the details here:

Delete Blood Cancer: Any healthy adult living in the UK, between the ages of 18-55 can become a potential blood stem-cell donor via this charity. They've all the answers to your questions on their website:

Sending lots of love to little Charlie and his family Xxx
Let's hope Charlie's donor match is just around the corner Xxx

Aílis Corey

Friday 11 May 2012

The problem with progress - Ulster Business

Social media has become part of daily life. But with many people uneasy about the way it helps brands target individuals so specifically with advertising; some experts believe internet privacy is a ticking time bomb. Stephen McVey reports

How would you measure a Belfast Buzz?

At the ‘Belfast One City’ conference Paul Nolan, author of the Peace Monitoring Report, said it would be difficult to collect the data to measure the positive feelings in Belfast. As odd as it may seem to take a scientific approach to the mood of an entire city, it does highlight how small victories for a city as a whole, may not be of any consequence to individual citizens struggling with recession.

As we head into summer, many people are suffering from brain freeze after being bombarded with iceberg related anniversary news. A ‘Thai-tanic’ restaurant really took the biscuit. Although there is probably a Titanic biscuit out there as well. The cynics will say, celebrating failure is not something we should be proud of, whilst others will point to the positive attention the Titanic has brought to Belfast. An impressive, new exhibition building to attract tourists and celebrities (John Bishop being the latest) can only be good for the city.

The Belfast media group in promoting the ‘Belfast One City’ conference labelled Belfast as a ‘vibrant city’.  I would argue that there is no question that Belfast is going in the right direction, but with a city centre that is like a ghost town most days of the week, it is only our drinking and dining culture that is providing any footfall after 6pm.

Paul Nolan states in the PMR that:  “Attention has focused more on the relaxed environment of the city centres, which now boast a new ‘cappuccino culture’, busy restaurants, shopping malls and night clubs.”

Following trends in the US or on the continent is not a new thing and the cappuccino culture in Belfast has been thriving for years. Now it seems like our mimicry of the continent is set to continue with new legislation set to be introduced to legally allow cafes, restaurants, and bars to place tables and chairs on the pavement for use by their customers.
 DSD Minister Nelson McCausland said: ‘’Well designed, sensibly located pavement cafés can add value to the street scene, boost visitor numbers and contribute to the economic and general well-being of local communities. “

I would love more of the Al fresco lifestyle and I regularly take the opportunity of a break in the clouds to lie in a heap outside City Hall, but we don’t live in Madrid, Paris or even London. 

There is the sense that we continue to struggle with our identity, a shared identity to be proud of. Titanic gave an example as one BBC reporter claimed her Catholic friends considered the Titanic to be a symbol for Protestantism. It is typical that even something as big as Titanic cannot be celebrated in unison.

Rather than measuring a so-called Belfast buzz. We should be moving past the buzz words like ‘A shared future’ and ‘dealing with the past’ and actually finding a way to make it happen. 

Tuesday 1 May 2012

The citizenship test: Protestants as well as Catholics in favour of fee waiver.

In Northern Ireland we have the unique situation where we can claim dual nationality. The bulk of the population is split between those who claim Irish citizenship and those who claim British citizenship.

Following the news that sixth form pupils in the UK who hold Irish passports qualify for free university tuition in Scotland, the question arises whether the passport that a person from Northern Ireland holds, is the definitive mark of their nationality.

It was originally believed that students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland had to pay the higher fees in Scotland. The decision has now been made that, as Irish passport holders in Northern Ireland count as EU students, those who have Irish passports are exempt.
The possibility of students from both religious backgrounds taking up this tempting opportunity is very likely. Given that they could avoid paying up to £27,000 in fees over a three year period, Protestant students could face a dilemma over how much their citizenship is worth and whether having two passports questions their identity or nationality.

In East Belfast, students of Grosvenor Grammar school have decided to apply for an Irish passport with no apparent concern about what it represents.

The flexible manipulation of dual citizenship is not a new concept. In recent years when people in Northern Ireland wanted to travel back to countries such as Australia, they have applied for a second passport as a way to get another visa.

Speaking about the tuition fee waiver, DUP MP Gregory Campbell said he had raised the issue with Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster regarding the treatment of dual citizens in Northern Ireland.
"With such a unique situation, the Scottish executive should take an equally unique approach to Northern Ireland students.
"Rather than only those who are happy to have an Irish passport gaining free university places, the Scottish executive should remove all fees for students from Northern Ireland.
"This would restore fairness in that those who wouldn't be comfortable being an Irish citizen can still avail of free places at Scottish universities.”
Mr. Campbell’s words have suggested that nationality in Northern Ireland is an option to be chosen. It is a bizarre arrangement that we live in a country where we choose the nationality that we feel most ‘comfortable’ with. 
The Scottish government acted in a way that ensures the equal treatment of all EU citizens, but in Northern Ireland it has opened up a loophole that will add to the citizenship debate.

Whilst we remain torn between British and Irish sensibilities, Northern Irish citizens will not have a collective unique identity. For the foreseeable future, it looks like we will continue to have optional nationality. Within this framework, having two passports in the locker will be nothing more than a way to manipulate the system, and with £27,000 at stake, why not?

Wednesday 11 April 2012

It’s ‘our time’ but who still has time for the Irish?

It’s ‘our time’ but who still has time for the Irish?
by Stephen McVey
In the month of St.Patrick’s day, an Australian ad on Gumtree specifically asked for non-Irish applicants. The job advertisement read, “Bricklayer needed, start ASAP $250 per day, no part time workers and NO IRISH”.

The reported argument, of the man who posted the ad, was that too many unskilled Irish people were applying under false pretences:  “I’ve had to fire a number of people. I’ve had lots of Irish people say they have experience bricklaying but come over and have no clue how to lay bricks. I’m very busy and don’t have time to be watching over them.”

It seems the love for the Irish is beginning to wear thin.

Emigration is continuing to grow, with over 21,000 Irish people heading to Australia alone last year on working holiday visas. Looking elsewhere for work is the chosen solution to the economic downturn. There are arguments that the Department of Employment and Learning is failing our young people. Stephen Farry, the minister for the department in Northern Ireland, is banking on the benefits of the skills our youth will come back with after working abroad.

Should the attention not be on finding ways to develop and contribute their skills in our own economy? Is it not important to promote the resources we have and to encourage people to stay and fight? Recent Oscar© winner Oorlagh George has said that Northern Ireland is an exciting place to be as ‘a new Ireland’ is still trying to find itself. The buzz that has been created by progress in the creative industries is an inspiration to work to our strengths and improve the economic situation.

The desire to be affiliated with Ireland is still strong, despite signs of ‘no room at the inn’ being posted to the Irish. A census in January 2012 revealed that 34.7 million U.S residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2010. On St.Patrick’s day people around the world celebrate their perspective on all things Irish, with New York and Sydney having the two largest parades respectively. Leprechauns, Shamrocks and Saint Patrick himself are the usual sights on parade floats.

Traditionally, the positive world view of Ireland ignores the North and its troubles. Now Northern Ireland is beginning to get some of the spotlight on St.Patrick’s day. DeLoreans are appearing at parades around the world. The iconic 80s cars have been seen at early celebrations in Brisbane, New Jersey and Toronto with confused parade goers being informed that the original DeLorean was manufactured in Dunmurry, Belfast.

The reputation of Ireland is central to success, whether it is to attract foreign investment or tourism to our island. Making the most of the 2012 opportunities in Northern Ireland will go a long way in securing long term growth. 

Time for our close-up? - Ulster Business

Time for our close-up? - Ulster Business

Stephen McVey looks behind the recent success of Northern Ireland’s screen and television industry and finds there’s much more to the industry than the HBO series Game of Thrones