Covid-19 New NI Lockdown

Northern Ireland will go into a six week Lockdown on Boxing Day. NI Executive Ministers met on Thursday amid growing concern about the rise of coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland. The Health minister said the restrictions will come into effect from midnight on Christmas Day, taking effect on the 26th.

Robin Swann said: “The Executive has probably taken its hardest decision, its most deep decision, in regards to how we have had to combat Covid-19 collectively. “We will be looking to a six week lock down where the message will be work from home, stay at home.

The agreed measures include:

Non-essential retail will close, including garden centres, click and collect services, and homeware

All hospitality will close, except deliveries and takeaway (Hotels will be able to remain open until 28th December to accommodate Christmas bookings)

Close contact services eg. hairdressers, beauticians etc will close

All essential businesses that will be allowed to open must close at 8pm for the first week of lockdown

No household mixing, except in an emergency

People will be asked to stay at home from 8pm – 6am for the first week of the lockdown

No changes have made to the Christmas bubbling system, which runs from the 23rd to the 27th of December.

No outdoor mixing with other households

Outdoor exercise will only be permitted alone or with members of your household

Elite sport will be cancelled during the first week of lockdown

Religious services can continue depending on a risk assessment

Number at funerals and weddings limited to 25. Receptions are not allowed

Christmas bubbling arrangements are still permitted, however people are being asked to limit their contact with others.

Full News Story can be read at UTV News

Full details of Coronavirus Rules in Northern Ireland at NI Direct

Please stay safe and follow Coronavirus and Social Distancing Rules. Ferry FM also broadcasts Coronavirus information.

Nugent’s Wood, Portaferry

PEACE IV Project at Portaferry’s Nugent’s Wood Completed

Visitors to the recently reopened Nugent’s Wood in Portaferry can now enjoy an even better experience at the beautiful National Trust site thanks to a cash injection from the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme.

Improvements to the walking trail path and repairs to the existing stone wall have been completed, while additional drainage works as well as new seating, sculptures and entrance signage have been installed.

The project was supported by the EU’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding was provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

It marks the successful completion of one of the four Ards and North Down Borough Council’s PEACE IV ‘Shared Spaces and Services’ projects. Work was carried out by contractor F.P. McCann and design consultants, AECOM.

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Trevor Cummings said:

“I am delighted to see this project come to fruition. Nugent’s Wood is a beautiful location with stunning views that all residents and visitors to the area can enjoy. Going outside and getting some exercise is vital for our physical and mental health. The Nugent’s Wood walking trail provides the perfect place where you can get fresh air and enjoy a walk while socially distancing.”

The National Trust acquired Nugent’s Wood in 1983. The wood covers 13 hectares and was originally planted as a shelter belt to the adjoining Portaferry House Demesne. The 1.5-mile path through the woodland features views across Strangford Lough to the Castle Ward Estate.

Commenting on the project, Andrew Upton, Countryside Manager for the National Trust, said:

“Nugent’s Wood is a wonderful mixed woodland on the shores of Strangford Lough. This open space provides visitors with access to woods and countryside, allowing people to reconnect with nature, something which is vital for health and wellbeing, especially during the current Covid-19 crisis. We’re delighted to see the completion of this funded project and we look forward to protecting and caring for Nugent’s Wood so people and nature can thrive, long into the future.”

For more information about the Ards and North Down Borough Council’s PEACE IV Shared Spaces and Services projects, visit

L-R: Andrew Upton (National Trust, Countryside Manager), Aaron Devlin (F.P. McCann), Hannah Lambe (AECOM Project Manager), Councillor Trevor Cummings (Mayor of Ards and North Down) and Joanne Brown (PEACE IV Officer). Image: Graham Baalham-Curry

Covid-19 Update

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people living in Northern Ireland. These new restrictions have been put in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and to help manage the pressures on our health and social care system. This page will be updated with detailed information as it becomes available.

The regulations were introduced on 16 October 2020 and will be in place for four weeks.

The regulations are available on the Department of Health website:
Health protection coronavirus restrictions regulations

Some of the restrictions will be in law through regulation, while others will be in guidance. 

Everyone is legally required to comply with the regulations.

Everyone has their part to play in stopping the spread of the virus in the community by:
limiting contact with others
regular hand washing
wearing of face coverings
good social distancing

If you display any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, self-isolate straight away and book a test.

A summary guide outlining the restrictions is available to download at this link:
A guide to the current restrictions in Northern Ireland

Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes. Certain exemptions apply, including:

– bubbling with one other household
– childcare
– building or maintenance work
– the services of trades or professions (close contact services are not allowed)
– providing care or assistance, including social services, to a vulnerable person
– giving or receiving legal advice or assistance or fulfilling a legal obligation
– providing emergency or medical assistance to any person
– a house move, and to do associated activities for that purpose, including viewing properties and making arrangements for removals
– a marriage or civil partnership where one of the couple is terminally ill

Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes as normal.

More details here:-

Covid-19 Update

The following restrictions for all households in Northern Ireland were introduced from 6.00 pm on 22 September 2020:

no mixing of households in private dwellings, with exemptions for:
– bubbling with one other household
– caring responsibilities, including childcare
– building or maintenance work, or the services of any trade or profession
– supported living arrangements
– visits required for legal or medical purposes
– a business operating from a person’s home
– a funeral
– a house move, and to undertake associated activities for that purpose, including viewing properties and making arrangements for removals
– marriage or civil partnership ceremony in a private dwelling where one partner is terminally ill
– no more than six people to gather in a private garden from no more than two households -children aged 12 and under from those two households are not counted in this total

Households are no longer allowed to mix indoors in private homes. This is because meeting friends and family indoors carries a higher risk than meeting outdoors.

You can form a bubble with one other household. These two households can be any size, however gatherings indoors should be no more than six people. Children aged 12 and under from those two households are not counted in this total.

Exemptions apply for those with caring responsibilities and you can continue to provide support for elderly relatives or dependents.

It is important that people who were previously shielding are particularly careful at this time.

Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes as normal.

More information can be found via the following link:


Working together to promote mental wellbeing in Northern Ireland

Today (Monday 7th September), marks the launch of a regional mental health and emotional wellbeing campaign – ‘Working Together To Promote Mental Wellbeing”.

The campaign is being launched by the Public Health Agency (PHA) along with five Health and Social Care Trusts, the NI Ambulance Service and the Health and Social Care Board, who with the community and voluntary sectors will work together to promote ways to support our mental wellbeing, with co-ordinated messages and links to support on social media including to the updated resources website

Over the next five weeks the campaign will focus on the ‘Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing’, which offers practical ideas to help support people with protecting and improving their own mental wellbeing and those around them.

The Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing are evidence based, easy to follow steps to help maintain and improve your wellbeing. The steps are-Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.

Olive MacLeod, Chief Executive, PHA, said: “The PHA has been working closely with the five Health and Social Care Trusts and NI Ambulance Service and the Health and Social Care Board on this campaign. In the current climate it is even more important we work together with a united voice with our local communities to encourage everyone to look after their own mental and emotional wellbeing and that of others. We want to promote each of the Take 5 messages and the range of resources and support available. We should think of these as our ‘five-a-day’ for wellbeing and build these into our daily lives.

“This week also sees World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September. It is vitally important to remind people that if they or someone they know is experiencing a crisis, that the 24/7crisis helpline Lifeline (0808 808 8000) is available at all times.

“We hope that encouraging people to Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing will help prevent people reaching crisis point. We encourage people to recognise the signs in themselves and others and know where they can get help as early as possible.”

Week one of the campaign focuses on ‘Connect’ and is being led by the recently appointed Interim Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, Professor Siobhan O’Neill.

Commenting ahead of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, Professor O’Neill said:  “Across the world, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. On Thursday people will come together in solidarity and spread awareness of how suicide can be prevented. In Northern Ireland we continue to have rates of suicide that are higher than any other UK region, and this remains very concerning.  As Mental Health Champion, I will drive forward the actions within the ‘Protect Life 2’ Suicide Prevention Strategy and ensure suicide prevention is considered in all key policies. 

I am passionate that we encourage everyone to look after their mental health and become our mental health champions, and in doing so look after ourselves and support others. ‘Take 5 steps to wellbeing’ is a set of tools we can all use daily, to help care for ourselves. As someone who uses these for my own wellbeing, I know they make a difference,” Professor O’Neill added.

Marie Roulston Director of Social Care and Children, Health and Social Care Board said: “The campaign is an excellent opportunity for the five Health and Social Care Trusts the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the Health and Social Care Board to work together over the next five weeks to build momentum around awareness  of local services and  the community and voluntary organisations working tirelessly to support people in their communities. They will also work together amplify the Take 5 message and links to support online and in their local areas.

“It is important to remember that mental health services continue to operate across Northern Ireland at this time. If you are concerned about your physical or emotional wellbeing, you should contact your GP.”

Happy 25th Birthday Ferry FM

On this day 25 years ago (15th July 1995) Ferry FM took to the airwaves across Portaferry and Strangford. Broadcasting on 105.4FM from the Market House, the station entertained people with Gala News and Great Music.

Over the years the station has broadcast from a few different places, but mainly the Market House. The frequency also changed a few times before settling on 107.2 for many broadcasts. The station broadcast for 8 days each year covering Portaferry Gala Week.

From 2019, the station began broadcasting online all year round from its new studio base in the Rec Hub and regularly receives messages from “Ex-Ports” around the world who tune in to hear what’s happening back home.

This year, 2020, the station undertook it’s longest FM broadcast – a 70 day Covid-19 RSL from May to July; featuring great music along with Covid-19 and community information as well as mental health and caring messages.

Paul Buckle on launch day 1995
Producer Dave on launch day 1995
One of the promotional signs outside Portaferry
The Ferry FM studio today. How technology has changed in 25 years!
The view across Strangford Lough from the Ferry FM studio. Very few stations can claim to have a better view.

When ferry fm launched it was a commercial radio station, funded by advertising only – how many of these commercials do you remember from the 1990’s?

Coronavirus – Face Coverings

Face Coverings On Public Transport

From 10 July 2020 it’s the law that passengers and staff on public transport in Northern Ireland must wear a face covering:

– on bus, coach and train services
– in public transport stations
– in indoor areas of a ferry and outdoor areas where you can’t keep two metres social distance

This law does not apply to tour coaches and taxis or private hire vehicles but some operators may have their own rules you should follow.

Although face coverings may not prevent you from becoming infected with the virus, they help prevent people who don’t know they have the virus spreading it to others.

By wearing a face covering you are are showing your support and consideration for other passengers and staff and playing your part to prevent transmission of the virus.

You don’t have to wear a face covering:

– on school transport
– if you are under the age of 13
– if you are a member of staff and are behind a protective screen
– if you are a passenger or a member of staff and have a reasonable excuse

For further information visit:

TV Licencing Scam

The following has been received from TV Licensing:-

We are very aware that TVL is high on the scammers hit list. In May, Action Fraud received over 260 reports of coronavirus related TV Licensing emails. There has been a TVL email scam specifically about coronavirus going around which says that the customer is eligible for a personalised offer of six months free because of COVID.

We want to protect our customers, so have been working on developing more detailed advice and also working with National Cyber Security Centre – people are asked to send scam emails to as a way of NCSC building a better picture of what’s out there.

As mentioned, the attached checklist is a good guide to help service users become aware of TVL scams and begin to take action against them via the following steps:

STOP Scammers will attempt to trick you into giving away your personal or bank details. So always be wary of letters, emails, texts or phone calls that promise you money or a refund 

CHECK Sender, spelling and grammar, your licence number, your name

ASK If you’re ever unsure about a communication you’ve received, it’s always best to ask someone – perhaps a friend or trusted advisor. Or you can contact us via or call us.