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Ardoyne parade application to be tabled on Monday

An application for the Ardoyne parade is expected to be tabled on Monday. Credit: Presseye

The Orange Order is expected to hand in a proposal for what could be the resolution to a long-running dispute over a parade in Ardoyne on Monday.

A deal was reached between the Orange lodge and CARA on Friday evening over the disputed route, with that agreement allowing for the completion of the 2013 Twelfth of July parade.

After the parade takes place, the protest camp at Twaddell Avenue will be disbanded and the Orange Order will not apply to make the return leg on the Twelfth without agreement.

Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast Gerry Kelly welcomed the news of the deal and said that it was motivated by a desire for resolution rather than any financial gain for the parties involved.

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Increase in civil service sickness levels ‘disappointing’ - Finance Minister

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has said the increase in sickness absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service is “disappointing”.

He was reacting to figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) that showed almost one day extra on average taken as sick days by workers at a cost of more than £30m in lost production in 2015/2016.

He added it was particularly disappointing as there had been a downward trend for a number of years.

“While it is encouraging to note that half of our staff had no recorded periods of sickness absence during 2015/16, reducing sick absence must remain a priority for departments and it is vital that work on this area continues and, where necessary, intensifies,” he said in a statement.

The Chair of Stormont's Finance Committee, Emma Pengelly MLA, also said it was disappointing that Northern Ireland civil servants were “underperforming compared to the rest of the United Kingdom”.

“Unfortunately we have seen a small rise in terms of this year’s results. I think it’s important we keep looking at this issue and that this does not become a trend,” she said.

Ulster Unionist Finance Spokesperson, Philip Smith MLA, has said the Northern Ireland Executive needs to get to grips with the worsening levels of sickness absence.

“Long-term absence in the NICS, particularly due to mental ill-health reasons, is now a key area requiring attention,” he said.

“It is absolutely imperative that as an employer the Northern Ireland Civil Service is able to support the mental wellbeing of its workers, but also quickly facilitate their return to work when possible.”

However union representatives say the Executive needs to take responsibility for the pressure on workers.

“What we want to see is a workforce that is healthy, able to go to work and do their job,” Bumper Graham, from NIPSA said.

“But they are being denied that opportunity due to the inadequacy of the Northern Ireland Executive in getting the proper funding so that we can deliver our public services in Northern Ireland.

“If we were properly funded then that would ease the pressure and tension on staff and that would be a win-win for everybody.”

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