Northern Ireland Share Nursing and Midwifery Expertise with Croatia


This month NI-CO was delighted to host a delegation of midwives, nursing professionals and academics from Croatia who were visiting Belfast to examine best practice in maternity and neonatal services.

The 5 day visit was organised under the auspices of a 12 month EU financed Institutional Twinning project which NI-CO has been delivering since early spring 2017. Designed to enhance the competences, knowledge and skills of nurses and midwives in line with Croatia’s new healthcare framework, the programme allowed delegates to explore Northern Ireland’s latest and most innovative developments in healthcare. During visits to the Department of Health, the NI Practice and Education Council and the Clinical Education Centre, the group learnt about the importance and value of collaborative working, data management and, perhaps most importantly, lifelong training and quality assurance. Senior practitioners from a number of local hospitals kindly gave up their time to speak to the delegation and share their personal experiences of NI’s award winning nurse mentoring programme which allows individual registrant nurses and midwives to develop professional knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice and enhance service-user protection, quality and safety.

As Croatia strives to implement changes to the existing healthcare model and improve the quality of clinical practice, these sessions provided an invaluable platform for lively debate and discussion on the benefits of mentorship, preceptorship, practice development initiatives and the development of a problem solving and questioning approach to practice issues enabled through portfolio development and work based learning facilitation. Over the next 6 months this learning will be put into practice as, together with NI-CO’s resident team in Zagreb, the delegates will contribute towards the development of a bespoke educational plan and programme for a mentoring system which shall facilitate the education of future generations of nurses and midwives across Croatia.

By |2017-07-03T08:23:59+00:00July 3rd, 2017|News|Comments Off on Northern Ireland Share Nursing and Midwifery Expertise with Croatia

Macedonia – “Developing cooperation between higher education institutions, the private sector and relevant public bodies”



This week NI-CO is delighted to host a group of 6 senior delegates from the Republic of Macedonia who are visiting Belfast to explore how employers and education providers in Northern Ireland are starting to work together to help students access rewarding employment opportunities while stimulating local business growth. The visit is funded under the auspices of an EU Institutional Twinning project which NI-CO is delivering in partnership with the Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques (CIEP).

Over the next 5 days, the group will have the opportunity to learn about NI’s latest educational policy developments from senior public servants within the Department for the Economy and examine new, innovative programmes being implemented by the Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast Metropolitan College and the University of Ulster. Visits to NI Career’s Service and to some of NI’s biggest student employers such as Deloitte and Catalyst Inc, will also provide delegates with an opportunity to explore policy in practice and assess which models may be relevant for Macedonia as they embark upon a new programme of economic and educational reform.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:17+00:00March 28th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Macedonia – “Developing cooperation between higher education institutions, the private sector and relevant public bodies”

Protecting the Consumer in Algeria

NI-CO is delighted to announce the award of its first EU funded institutional twinning project in Algeria: “Collection, Processing and Promotion of the Information in relation with Consumer Protection”.

The 1.2 million euro project was awarded to the UK towards the end of 2016 and will be implemented by NI-CO over the next two years. Resident twinning adviser, Mr Roland Laval and UK Project Leader, Mr John Lawrence, will lead a team of experts who will work alongside the Algerian Ministry of Trade to improve consumer advice and protection and develop a free-market environment favorable to investors.  As well as creating a fully operational call center for consumers’ claims, the project will seek to promote a more inclusive culture that will protect and enhance the consumer rights of female and vulnerable groups.

NI-CO feel very privileged to have been awarded this contract and to have the opportunity of playing a significant role in the further development of the Association Agreement between the EU and Algeria.

By |2017-03-02T08:44:07+00:00March 2nd, 2017|News|Comments Off on Protecting the Consumer in Algeria

Tackling the Waste Challenge in Macedonia

NI-CO has recently celebrated the addition of a new contract to our ever expanding project portfolio in the Western Balkans. The 1 million euro Institutional Twinning project will see NI-CO work alongside the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland as well as the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Bodies and Galician Regional Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructures in Spain for a period of 21 months.

Under the skilled direction of NI-CO’s long term expert, Mr Graham Byrne, the UK and Spanish expert team will work to strengthen the administrative capacity of the Ministry for Environment and Physical Planning to implement the Waste Framework Directive and a number of waste stream directives including the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. The comprehensive training and capacity building programme will make a significant contribution towards the execution of Macedonia’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement namely Article 80 on economic and social policies ensuring that environmental considerations are also fully incorporated from the outset, Article 68 on legal approximation, Articles 85 and 98 on ensuring environmental protection and Article 103 on combating environmental degradation, with the view to supporting environmental sustainability.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:18+00:00February 20th, 2017|News|Comments Off on Tackling the Waste Challenge in Macedonia

Macedonia – Major Gender Equality Conference in Skopje




The Chief Executive of the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland has told a NI-CO conference in Skopje that the Commission’s vision is equality for all and a common understanding of the benefits of a more equal society.

Dr. Evelyn Collins was the keynote speaker at a major conference – Promoting Gender Equality – in Skopje. The conference was organised by an EU-funded Twinning Project on supporting the implementation of gender equality, where the lead partner is the United Kingdom and the junior partners are Portugal and Romania.  The purpose of this ground-breaking project is to build capacity on gender equality, as a key human right and fundamental freedom, for people of all genders.

The project is led jointly by NI-CO and the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

Dr. Collins underlined the importance of having an influential, independent equality body, as part of the national equality architecture; drawing on Northern Ireland and wider European experience to demonstrate the continuing need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality in Macedonia.

Conference participants reported that they were inspired by Dr Collins’ speech and that the practical examples gave them a real insight into how to achieve equality for all.

Other speakers at the conference included, Ms Patricia Carey, Resident Twinning Adviser (on secondment to NI-CO from the Executive Office), Joint Project Leader Ms Elena Grozdanova, State Counsellor, Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Ms Sophie Beaumont, Programme Manager Education and Gender, EU Delegation, Skopje, Ms Anita Sares, Commission for Equality in Labour and Employment, Portugal, Ms Monaliza Elena Cirstea, Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly, Romania and Ms Eileen Sung, UK Project Leader.



By |2017-05-19T13:42:18+00:00October 19th, 2016|News|Comments Off on Macedonia – Major Gender Equality Conference in Skopje

Sharing EU best experience with Montenegro


This month NI-CO played host to a small delegation of leading officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in Montenegro. The group was comprised of the Head of Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection, Budimirka Đukanović, the Senior Advisor for Child Protection, Svetlana Sovilj, and Marija Baković, Senior Advisor. The purpose behind the visit was to aid in the process of expanding the child foster care system in Montenegro, with the eventual aim of encouraging de-institutionalisation.

During their visit, NI-CO’s Montenegrin guests met with various Northern Irish organisations, including the Department of Health NI, the South Eastern Health and Social Services Trust, the Health and Social Care Board and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. As well as being introduced to NI’s foster care system, the delegation were able to benefit from NI’s expertise in relation to the successful implementation of EU directives and institutional frameworks in this sector.

Discussions were also held concerning the development of foster care as a less restrictive form of child protection, with a particular focus on the importance of implementing de-institutionalisation throughout Montenegro.

A visit from the Northern Health and Social Services Trust also afforded our guests the opportunity to gather information about alternative forms of foster care which have yet to be developed in Montenegro, such as the Kinship fostering practice (the system of fostering by family members). A trip to the Fostering Network further facilitated the sharing of information and experience concerning the role of NGOs in providing support for fostering and child protection services.

Our guests finished their visit by reviewing the lessons learned and discussing how these could be usefully incorporated into practical strategies for future work in Montenegro.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:18+00:00August 1st, 2016|News|Comments Off on Sharing EU best experience with Montenegro

NI-CO breaks into the Education Sector

NI-CO is delighted to announce the award of our first ever Education focused EU institutional twinning project with the Republic of Macedonia. Working in partnership with Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques (CIEP), the €750,000 contract has been designed to enhance links between higher education providers and employers thereby improving the general understanding of the skills and qualifications required for Macedonia’s future economic growth.

Building on the work of organisations such as the World Bank, the National Centre for Development of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Learning and Erasmus+, the European project team will work alongside the Ministry of Education and Science and Ministry of Labour and Social Policy to undertake a rigorous quality assessment of current HEI curricula and study programmes on offer. Courses will be adapted to improve the quantity and quality of Macedonia’s human capital and increase national competitiveness at international level.

The project will also invest significant resources into building the capacity of University Career Centres and Boards for Trust and Co-operation with the Public which are both dedicated to reducing the gap between supply and demand in Macedonia’s labour market. As well as receiving training on the latest international tools for data collection and dissemination, staff will also benefit from courses on event management, PR and improved community engagement.

By |2016-08-01T16:37:50+00:00August 1st, 2016|News|Comments Off on NI-CO breaks into the Education Sector

From Belfast to Kiev

From Kiev to Belfast

NI-CO recently played host to a delegation of senior public servants from Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance, Department for Humanitarian and Social Policy at the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and the Ministry of Social Policy.  The purpose of the visit was to acquaint the group with primary policy areas in combating fraud and corruption within the social protection system.

During the course of their 5 day itinerary, the delegation visited the Department of Social Development where they explored new strategic policy areas aimed at fraud prevention, detection, correction, punishment, and deterrence. Meetings with staff from the Social Security Agency, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Centre, Andersonstown Jobs and Benefits Office and Coleraine Jobs & Benefits Office also provided the group with a unique opportunity to meet social inspectors who are at the forefront in leading NI’s campaign to detect and combat EFC.  As well as receiving practical advice on the latest, innovative ways of fraud prevention, sanctions, and repayment of debts, experiences were also shared in the effective implementation of public awareness campaigns on EFC prevention and in the effective use of ICT in designing risk profiling tools and carrying out cross-checks.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:19+00:00April 29th, 2016|News|Comments Off on From Belfast to Kiev

UK Shares Best Practice with Montenegro

This month NI-CO, in partnership with the Ministry of Justice, were delighted to host a delegation from Montenegro to the UK. The visit was organised under the auspices of a €3 Million EU funded project, ‘Support to the Rule of Law in Montenegro’ which NI-CO has been delivering in Montenegro since 2013. Aiming to strengthen the independence, efficiency and accountability of the judiciary and the fight against corruption, the project will help Montenegro comply with Chapters 23 and 24 of the Acquis Communautaire as it embarks upon the road to EU Accession.

The Montenegrin delegation comprised senior representatives from the Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court, Judicial Council and the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica and attended a number of high level meetings with judges and officials at the Supreme Court, Foreign Office, Ministry of Justice, and Crown Prosecution Service in London.  Visits were also made to a variety of courts including the Rolls Building, Supreme Court, Royal Courts of Justice and Crown courts.


Building on the success of the first two years of the project, the itinerary was designed to introduce the group to the importance of oversight mechanisms such as the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate in the fight against corruption.

Lessons were also shared on the independence of the judiciary, policy reform and transformation in the Ministry of Justice, and the efficient management of the courts service and case management through effective resource allocation and digitisation. The delegation also learned about the importance of developing strong leadership and management skills across the justice sector in the UK in delivering the reform agenda.

NI-CO is looking forward to working with Montenegro on the remainder of the current project and to future collaboration.

By |2017-05-19T13:42:20+00:00April 29th, 2016|News|Comments Off on UK Shares Best Practice with Montenegro

NI-CO Bursary Opportunity – Cyprus – Study and report on the Peace Programme in Northern Ireland

In 2016, NI-CO (Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas) is offering a unique opportunity for a bi-communal team of Cypriot researchers to visit Northern Ireland to evaluate the delivery and impact of EU Peace funding and to derive lessons for Cyprus’s reconciliation work and use of international funding mechanisms. The bursary covers travel, accommodation, expenses and transport in Northern Ireland up to a value of €13,000 for a team of two researchers representing both Cypriot communities. NI-CO will facilitate all necessary access to contacts and institutions for the research. The research document is to be developed after in-country experience in Northern Ireland with financial assistance from the NI-CO Bursary. The full Guidelines for Applicants are available for consultation at The deadline for submission of proposals is 29 April 2016.


NI-CO Ref Number: 111/001/SER-2016

By |2016-04-15T14:22:29+00:00April 10th, 2016|News|Comments Off on NI-CO Bursary Opportunity – Cyprus – Study and report on the Peace Programme in Northern Ireland