Fashion fans flocked to the Guildhall on Saturday evening where a cornucopia of couture awaited as the sell-out annual Fashion Fest show got underway.

The Main Hall of the historic building became an autumnal paradise, as the catwalk cascaded with colour in all the hues of the season. The show was a celebration of creativity, diversity and self-expression showcasing the work of both emerging and established designers.

The event was delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council with support from Style Academy, who co-ordinated the stunning catwalk display.

Speaking after the event, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle said it had been a fantastic production. “I want to say well done to all involved in co-ordinating Fashion Fest this year. It was a delight to see the Guildhall being used for such a glamourous event, and the beautiful backdrop of the Main Hall. The talent on display was fantastic and our local designers are undoubtedly right at the cutting edge of the fashion industry.”

Business Support Officer with Council, Tara Nicholas, said the event had been a great success. “I want to thank everyone involved in the show for the delivery of such a spectacular and ambitious production. We had an array of talent on show here at the Guildhall – not just the designers and models who lit up our catwalk, but also the music and dance performers who helped create such an entertaining experience.

“This year there was a strong message about identity, inclusivity and how fashion is a form of self-expression that is accessible to everyone. We strive to support the local creative industries in terms of offering business advice and mentoring, as well as showcase opportunities such as Fashion Fest. The calibre of the talent here is exceptional and it’s fantastic to be able to see so many local designers coming together for one show.”

The audience enjoyed an evening of live music, song and fabulous fashion from a whole host of emerging and established designers, including Bridie Mullan, Paul Stafford, Una Rodden, Hope Macaulay and Alan Cresswell.

Other highlights included a showcase of eco-friendly fashion by Junk Kouture as some of the past winning designs took to the runway to inspire people to resurrect old materials and transform them into stunning ensembles and local dance company CREATE with a show stopping opening. 

The show closed with a magical collaboration with US label Badgley Mischka showcasing their luxury Bridal Collection which made for an epic finale.

Entertainment included performances by Irish Singer / Songwriter Racheal O’ Connor and Derry’s award winning DJ, Louise DaCosta, plus live sax accompaniment.

You can find out more about Fashion Fest at Follow us on Instagram @FashionFestDerry

Ann Marie McGlynn and Kenyan Gideon Kimosop have claimed the respective women’s and men’s titles in the 38th staging of the Waterside Half Marathon, as a record-breaking field of over 2,000 runners took on the challenge of the 13.1 mile course.

Strabane’s McGlynn recorded a record-breaking time of 76 minutes and 54 seconds as Jim Corbett claimed the wheelchair honours at the September event.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, started the race and was at the finish line at Ebrington Running Track to greet the runners as they finished.

“Congratulations to the thousands of runners who took part in the Waterside Half Marathon and in particular the category winners, where the competition was particularly stiff this year,” she said.

“It was heartening to see the runners encouraged around the course by the hundreds of spectators who lined the route, and it was clearly an emotional moment for many at the finish line. 

“Well done to the Festival and Events team at Council and City of Derry Spartans for hosting another smoothly co-ordinated event and good luck to all the runners as they continue their running journey and pursuing their personal goals.”       

Festival and Events Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Jacqueline Whoriskey, thanked everyone who contributed to another successful event.

“A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to manage an event of this scale so I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped out as stewards and at water stations and, in particular, to Gerry Lynch and the City of Derry Spartans Club, without whose expertise this event wouldn’t be possible,” she added.

“We were delighted that more teams than ever took advantage of the relay option this year, it allows more people to enjoy the race day experience and I’m sure many relay runners will return in 2020 with some attempting the full distance.

“We are also proud that the event is one of the most environmentally friendly races ever hosted in the UK and Ireland through a number of eco-initiatives including paperless registrations and race instructions, smaller water bottles, more recycling bins and recyclable race pack bags.”

Ulster University researchers have developed a pioneering new computational model that could be used by developers to make self-aware machines.

The Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) at the university’s Magee campus has created the world’s first biologically motivated, computational model which can quantify decision uncertainty and explain its effects on change-of-mind during decision-making processing.

Numerous top technology companies are using some form of artificial intelligence (AI) in fields such as advertising technology, manufacturing, cybersecurity, and healthcare.

AI systems encompass machine learning techniques and powerful computational resources to create predictive models by processing complex and large data. However, they lack a key component essential to human intelligence and effective decision making: self-awareness.

At the ISRC, new research on biologically-inspired algorithms has been advancing beyond standard AI algorithms.

This exciting new work in Computational Neuroscience has shown for the first time that neural network models can be equipped with metacognition or self-awareness of their own actions and choices.

The computer model can not only mimic brain activity observed in humans and some animals, but also replicate change-of-mind and error correction behaviour, which require “on-the-fly” metacognitive processing.

Senior author and researcher of the research work, Dr KongFatt Wong-Lin, said: “Our research has revealed the plausible brain circuit mechanisms underlying how we calculate decision uncertainty, which could in turn influence or bias our actions, such as change-of-mind.”

He added: “We are perhaps closer than ever before to creating self-aware machines than we have previously thought. Real-time monitoring of decision confidence in artificial neural networks could also potentially allow better interpretability of the decisions and actions made by these algorithms, thereby leading to more responsible and trustworthy AI.”

Mr Nadim Atiya, lead author of the paper and a PhD researcher at the ISRC, added: “Our research work could also form the basis towards understanding brain disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction, in which metacognitive abilities are impaired.”

The researchers are now working with cognitive scientists and brain scientists to further develop their computer model, while creating conscious machines that are self-aware of their actions and decisions, making AI and machines more intelligent and interpretable.

The research can be viewed here.

Around 250 local and international academics, clinical researchers and members of the Life and Health Sciences industry have attended a prestigious TMED (Translational Medicine) conference in Derry-Londonderry.

The event which is now in its 10th year, had a theme of ‘Disruptive innovation in healthcare’, and was opened by Professor Rafael Bengoa, an internationally renowned expert who previously developed a Systems not Structures healthcare strategy for Northern Ireland.

This year, the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) celebrated a decade of partnership between Derry City and Strabane District Council, Ulster University and the NHS through the Western Health and Social Care Trust. 

Based on the Altnagelvin Hospital site in Derry/Londonderry, C-TRIC have been instrumental in facilitating healthcare research by bringing together clinicians, academic university staff and industry to achieve better outcomes for patients both locally and internationally.

During his keynote speech at the conference in the City Hotel, Professor Bengoa addressed how Northern Ireland has delivered on his report, which is also referred to as The Bengoa Report.

Global manufacturer Terex has officially opened its new £12m facility in Campsie, which will create 100 jobs locally.

The firm, which makes lifting and material processing solutions, unveiled the 105,000 square foot facility where heavy equipment for Terex Ecotec (waste management and recycling) and mobile conveyors will be manufactured.

Speaking at a reception of over 100 representatives from educational, political and business institutions in the area, Kieran Hegarty, president of Terex Materials Processing revealed that the manufacturer has “ambitious plans for growth” in the future.

“We’ve a fantastic local team now in place and trained in our world-class manufacturing processes. But we don’t stop there. Terex has ambitious plans for growth and just as important as this new facility and filling our current vacant positions is in developing and retaining our people so we have the skills needed to deliver our ambitious growth plans,” he said.

Discussing the new facility, Mr Hegarty added: “As people, businesses and governments become more aware of their carbon footprint we’re seeing enormous growth in demand for environmental equipment globally.

“We’re excited that Terex Campsie has started producing equipment to cater for this market – the type of equipment capable of processing construction and demolition waste or everyday waste from your home – to be exported all over the world.”

Manufacturing at Terex Campsie is underway, with almost 40% of the initial 100 jobs filled. Northern Ireland is a key manufacturing location for the firm, with nine sites in the region and more than 1800 people employed.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Deputy Mayor, Cara Hunter said: “The grand opening today is very good news for our region and reaffirms the North West’s position as a competitive, exciting and innovative place to do business.”

A stunning new walled garden has been unveiled in St Columb’s Park as a shared space for the whole community.

The garden was officially opened during Good Relations Week in September by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle.

The project received over £370,000 in external funding through the EU’s Peace IV Programme (Special EU Programmes Body) for the completion of the garden, and a supporting programme of peace building activity.

The extensive development to the rear of St Columb’s Park House was built by contractor Willie Doherty Construction, and the finished project includes an historic path network at the site and the rebuilding of the Walled Garden enclosure.

The project is identified as a priority in Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Parks Development Programme and the Strategic Growth Plan, which commits to protect and promote our natural and built heritage assets and develop our parks and green spaces.

Mayor Boyle said the project would be a welcome addition to the park’s expanding infrastructure: “I am proud to officially open this beautiful new outdoor space which is a key element of the wider St Columb’s Park Regeneration Plan,” she said.

“The Walled Garden enhances the Park’s historic, cultural and landscape amenity and will crucially create a shared space that will benefit the entire community. Congratulations to all the project stakeholders from Council, St Columb’s Park House and the Acorn Fund for their collaborative work in bringing this project to fruition.”

A series of cross-community programmes are planned, themed around ‘Working with the Natural Environment’, ‘Health and Wellbeing’, ‘History and Heritage’ and ‘Art in the Park’.

The PEACE IV Programme is supported by the European Union, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

Government officials and VIPs from China have visited Derry-Londonderry as part of a celebration of Chinese culture marking four key historic anniversaries.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle welcomed the major delegation, led by the Chinese Consul General in Belfast Madame Zhang Meifang, as well as cultural performers who led a colourful showcase of traditional Chinese music and dance.

Mayor Boyle said the event was another opportunity to strengthen local relations with China.

“This is the latest in a series of meetings and engagements between local partners in business and education which have been establishing strong ties between the North West and China,” she said.

“I look forward to continuing to explore the future prospects that these discussions may present to the benefit of both our countries, based on our shared interests and ambitions.”

Events were held in both Derry and Belfast in September by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Belfast to celebrate four events: the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, the 65th Anniversary of UK – China Relations, the 5th year of the Chinese Consul General locating in Belfast, and China National Day, which is traditionally celebrated on October 1st.

A China National Day Dinner Celebration also took place in the Guildhall hosted by Madame Zhang, Mayor Boyle, and members of the local Sai Pac Chinese community.

Significant City Deal and Economic Growth Funding Package confirmed for Derry and Strabane.

The announcement today of a £105M economic package by the UK Government in the Derry City and Strabane City Region has been widely welcomed by City and District partners with the Mayor saying it will be “a significant catalyst for change and economic growth” for the Derry City and Strabane District and the wider North West and expressed his delight that it has been secured during his Mayoral year as a key priority.

The investment package announced comprises a £50M ‘City Deal’ and a £55M ‘Inclusive Future Fund’ and is the culmination of a long period of engagement with Government in relation to advancing priority projects and initiatives within the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan and City Deal proposals.

Reflecting the model recently announced by Government for the Belfast Region City Deal, it is anticipated that the UK Government investment package announced today of £105M for Derry~Londonderry and Strabane will be at least matched by a similar commitment from the NI Executive and will lever further investment from project partners and other third party sources which it is hoped will eventually lead to an overall investment injection of in excess of £300M.

The announcement follows a visit to the City last July when the Chancellor, Philip Hammond met with civic and political leaders to hear of the plans and invited a bid for a City Deal to be formally submitted.

The bid, supported and endorsed by all local and regional political parties and representatives and devised around the key strategic economic projects outlined in the City and District’s Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan 2017-2032.

Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, the bid was developed in partnership, and with the support of a wide range of local education, business and economic partners – including the Ulster University, the North West Regional College, both the Londonderry and Strabane Chambers of Commerce, the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Visit Derry, City Centre Initiative and the Foyle Port, in consultation with all associated NI Government Departments.

At the core of the bid is education, innovation, job creation and skills development with a key focus being the advancement of the much sought after expansion and growth of the Magee campus of Ulster University.

The investment package announced today, will enable planning and business case development to now proceed on proposals for a significant landmark riverfront university medical education and innovation hub, comprising a graduate entry medical college and centres of innovation, research and teaching excellence in data-driven personalised medicine, cognitive analytics and robotics and automation, eventually delivering over 200 new posts/research assistants at the City’s university and upwards of 2,000 additional students.

The stimulus package will additionally advance the delivery of a range of smart city and digital infrastructure projects and initiatives, further positioning the City and District as a highly digitally enabled location for cutting-edge business development and expansion and inward investment.

The catalytic impact of this could therefore result in the single biggest ever combined and integrated funding injection the City and District, that will enable progress and delivery of other key infrastructure, tourism and regeneration projects contained within the Plan and Bid in both Derry City Centre and Riverfront and in Strabane Town Centre.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle said: “This hugely significant announcement today for the Derry and Strabane District will go some considerable way in addressing the long-standing obstacles to economic development that this City Region and its people face. It is good news and is the result of an enormous amount of work and sustained effort invested by Council and the City and Regional partners to develop, deliver and negotiate on the bid.”

Council Chief Executive John Kelpie acknowledged the collaborative approach and the unified vision and commitment demonstrated by politicians, and partner organisations in development of the bid and the advice and support received regionally and nationally in securing such a positive outcome.

Enthusiastic about the opportunity presented by today’s announcement he commented: “This City and District has seen much progress in recent years economically, physically and socially. It has however significant remaining challenges in overcoming an infrastructure deficit and a legacy of underinvestment both of which have been such inhibitors to sustainable economic growth.

“This funding package, if directed at the key agreed strategic growth projects and if used to lever significant further public and private sector investment, will deliver a new era of unprecedented growth and development for the City and Region providing tangible benefits for all of our citizens and a promising future for our children and young people.”

Other City Deal Project partners reacted equally positively with the Vice Chancellor of Ulster University, Professor Paddy Nixon said, “This investment will now see the rapid development of plans to grow and enhance facilities and student numbers at the Magee Campus including the Graduate Entry Medical School.”

Brian McGrath, President of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce said: “This funding is hugely welcome and provides a solid platform upon which to grow and enhance the competitiveness of the City and Region and attract further significant exciting new companies, business prospects and investment.”

Council Chief Executive, John Kelpie concluded:  “The next steps will now be for everyone to continue to work together to develop the necessary detailed business plans and advance the projects through planning and design. We will do this by using this unprecedented opportunity to promote the future of this City and District as a location of choice for all in terms of business, lifestyle and ambition.”

A high-level delegation of senior UK diplomats visited Londonderry in Feb as part of a two day visit to gain a wider understanding of the political structures, strengths, and unique offer of Northern Ireland. The visit was an opportunity to engage local interests and discuss how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with other partners, is delivering support internationally for all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland. During their visit, the group met with the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Councillor John Boyle and senior officers of council where they were given an overview of the council’s Strategic Inclusive Growth Plan and the work the council is doing to secure national growth in the city region. Mayor John Boyle said the meeting was very positive in identifying opportunities the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can help to represent the city and district’s interests abroad and to assist in helping the city region achieve its ambition.

Visting Heads of Mission Discuss Derry City and Strabane Growth Plans

He said it was an excellent opportunity for the council and its stakeholders to engage directly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss common interests in terms of business, trade and investment and education opportunities. The delegation also met with representatives from Invest NI before they travelled to Seagate Technology and the Ulster University. The delegation participated in a walking tour of the Historic City Walls before sampling a range of the finest local food and drink produce a food and drink tasting event at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel that was hosted by Invest NI, before an evening reception hosted by the Mayor. Speaking after the visit the Mayor extended his thanks to the delegation saying it was hugely significant in forging links with the FCO and in sharing information that will help the region with its current business and education challenges.

He said: “This visit by the UK senior diplomats was a very important visit for the city and wider region. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase our city and the really positive work we are doing through our Strategic Growth Plan to attract investment, invest in research and education and improve our health and wellbeing. We were able to show the benefits of strategic partnership working between council, the Ulster University and Seagate and welcome the commitment of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in representing the interests of Northern Ireland Internationally.”

Sports people in Strabane can now access state of the art play provision on their doorstep after Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, officially opened the new multi-sport 3G facility at the Melvin Sports Complex.

The £1.2 million project will cater for primarily football, rugby and GAA and is an addition to the wide range of facilities at the centre that includes a sports hall, studios, conference rooms, cryospa, soft play, play park, tennis court, and running track.

The pitch is named after the late Felix McCrossan, the former soccer referee and linesman in the Irish League who had a pivotal role in the growth of the Tyrone Milk Cup tournament.

Funders, stakeholders, elected representatives and Council officers attended December’s opening event where local schoolchildren took part in a Melvin Multi Sport Festival on the pitches that was delivered by Council’s team of sports coaches.
Speaking at the opening, Mayor Boyle expressed his delight that local people could now access state of the art playing facilities on their doorstep.
“I am delighted that sports people of all levels can now access this high spec and state of the art facility that can significantly contribute to our aim of increasing participation numbers in sport and physical activity across the Council area,” he said.
“The Felix McCrossan Pitch provides much needed playing provision for the area and can act as a hub for the community, encouraging more active lifestyles choices and creating a space for groups and teams to come together and socialise through sport.
“The project was completed at a cost of £1.2m which was made up of £590,220 from the Department for Communities Neighbourhood Renewal Investment Fund and £623,000 from Council.”
Director of Health and Communities at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Karen McFarland, said the project was the latest upgrade to the overall offering at the Melvin Sports Complex.
“The completion of the 3G facility is a welcome addition to the facilities at the Melvin centre,” she said.
“The investment compliments the £2.2 million refurbishment at the Complex in 2014 and the £60,000 upgrade to the Arena Grass Pitch and changing facilities.
“The pitch can host soccer, gaa and rugby games meaning it will be an excellent resource for all the local field sports clubs to access in all weather conditions.”
For further information on prices, activity programmes / timetables or general enquiries contact the Melvin Sports Complex on 028 71 382660, e mail or visit