A quick look at Life in Northern Ireland
Some Quick Facts:
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.
The capital city is Belfast.
The country has a population of around 1,905,484 million (2020). (http://www.ukpopulation.org/northern-ireland-population).
Northern Ireland shares a border with the South of Ireland which is part of Europe.
The county’s airports are Belfast International Airport, George Best Belfast City Hospital and City of Derry Airport.
The country’s seaports are Belfast and Larne.
The country has great cultural diversity: there is a mixture of both English and Irish people, together with those from many other countries around the world.
Languages spoken are English, British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL).
To call Northern Ireland from abroad dial 00 44 + area code (without 0) + local number.
Electricity in Northern Ireland is 240 volts (standard 3-pin plug).
About the Weather
In Northern Ireland we often say you can have ‘four seasons in one day’. Rain, hail, sleet and snow in 24 hours! The weather in Northern Ireland is unpredictable but it is not usually extremely hot or very cold. Temperatures in the height of summer (July/August) can range from 18-20 degrees. Winters are colder with some freezing temperatures and occasional snow, which doesn’t last long.The country has a fair bit of rainfall throughout the year.
The Public Holidays
Public Holidays for 2021/2022 are:
New Year's Day 1 January 2021 & 1January 2022
St Patrick's Day 17 March 2021 & 17 March 2022
Good Friday 2 April 2021 & 15 April 2022
Easter Monday 5 April 2021 &18 April 2022
Early May Bank Holiday 3 May 2021 & 2 May 2022
Spring Bank Holiday 31 May 2021 & 30 May 2022
Battle of the Boyne /Orangemen's Day 12 July 2021 & 12 July 2022
Summer Bank Holiday 30 August 2021 & 29 August 2022
Christmas Day (and additional day) 25 + 27 December 2021 & 25 + 26 December 2022
Boxing Day (and additional day) 26 + 28 December 2021 & 27 December 2022
How to Discover the Best of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is well-known for the incredible and breath-taking Giant’s Causeway, the beautiful lakes of Fermanagh and the many beaches along the coastline. The Titanic Exhibition Centre is one of the country’s most popular visitor attractions – conveniently situated in Belfast.
You can cross Northern Ireland by car in about two hours – north to south, or east to west – but in between there is a rich variety of scenery, beautiful coastline and many cultural attractions and leisure opportunities. As you travel you will discover historic castles, stunning mountains, fascinating landmarks and pretty villages. The country has some of the best golf courses in the world – along with excellent fishing, water sports and walking trails.
Northern Ireland has many fine restaurants, cinemas, galleries, arts and entertainment centres, and pubs and clubs. For information on things to do, places to visit, and holiday accommodation, visit:
A Guide to Sanitation
You may find that using the toilet in the UK is a different experience from doing so at home, so be sure to familiarise yourself with how it works.
People in the UK have many different names for the toilet - such as the ‘loo’, ‘bathroom’ or the ‘lavatory’. In public places, you will see the signs ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’ or ‘females’ and ‘males’ to distinguish between toilets. You may even see communal toilets which both men and women can use. Male public toilets usually have mostly urinals with a limited number of sit-down toilets, whereas female toilets will only have sit-down toilets.
In some countries it is normal practice to squat to use the toilet. You must not squat on a toilet in the UK: you risk breaking the toilets if you do this as they are designed for sitting on only.
Most people use toilet paper to clean themselves after they have used the toilet. After use, you must place the toilet paper into the toilet and flush it.In some countries, you cannot flush toilet paper because the drains are narrow and therefore block easily. In the UK, the drains are quite wide and will not get blocked by toilet paper unless you use and flush too much of it – so only use as much as is necessary to avoid blockages.
If you use wet wipes, check the packet and make sure they can be flushed down the toilet as some may cause the toilet to get blocked. Do not flush paper towels, cotton wool pads, hair or anything else down the toilet as these will likely cause blockages.
After use, be sure to clean the toilet using the toilet brush provided. These brushes have long handles, so you don’t need to put your hands in the bowl when cleaning it, and a bristle head so you can scrub the toilet to make sure it is clean. Be sure to flush the toilet before and after using a toilet brush, to keep everything as clean as possible. Make sure there is no waste on the toilet brush when you put it back in the holder and always wash your hands after handling a brush.
Public toilets have sanitary waste bins you should use to dispose of used female sanitary items. If one is not available (for example, at your accommodation/home) you should wrap up the used items and place them in the bin. You can buy perfumed bags to dispose of used items – or use a wrapper or small amount of toilet paper. Do not flush them down the toilet as the toilet may become blocked.
You must always wash your hands after you have been to the toilet. Viruses and infections can be passed between people who do not wash their hands. Soap comes in bars, which lathers when wet, and as liquid soap which is more common.
Personal Safety Support
Your personal safety is important, so there is plenty of support and advice available from a range of services:
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – While we hope you will never be a victim of crime; it is worth taking some time to think about how you would act in different threatening situations.
You can find advice and support at www.psni.police.uk.
Hate Crime - Unite Against Hate (UAH) is a local campaign offering information on how to report hate crime as well as support for victims. The campaign lets stakeholders share research, information and good practice as well as report on projects relating to hate crime. Get more information and advice at www.united-against-hate.org.
A Guide to Road Safety
Drivers drive on the left-hand side of the road in Northern Ireland and the speed limit is usually 30 mph for single lane roads. The speed can increase up to 70 mph on dual carriageways and motorways. Bus lanes allow buses and permitted traffic only. When crossing the road there are certain rules to be followed:
Find a safe place to cross - where there is space to reach the pavement on the other side.
If there is a crossing nearby you should use it. It is safer to cross using a subway, a footbridge, an island, a zebra crossing, pelican crossing, or where there is a crossing point controlled by a police officer or a school crossing patrol.
If there isn’t a crossing, choose a place where you can see clearly in all directions. Do not cross between parked cars, on a blind bend, or close to the brow of a hill: move to a space where drivers and riders can see you clearly.
Do not cross the road diagonally.
For more information on driving a car in Northern Ireland and using a foreign licence, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/driver-licensing/driving-ni-foreign-licence
Advice on using a Mobile Phone
To stay connected with home as well as to access the internet, social media and email – most international nurses have a mobile smart phone. Prices for mobile phone contracts and deals may vary, and most nurses coming from overseas choose the ‘pay as you go contract’ for the first one or two months until they settle into their new home. With this contract you tend to only pay for the data or calls that are used rather than having a fixed monthly fee.
The main mobile phone providers in Northern Ireland are Vodafone, O2 and Three. Be sure to buy a SIM Card before you leave for Northern Ireland: this means you will be able to communicate with Trust Human Resources, Occupational Health and your bank as soon as you arrive.
Most enclosed public places and workplaces in Northern Ireland are smoke-free and it is against the law to smoke in these places. You could be fined for smoking in public spaces where it is not allowed, and it is against the law to smoke in:
pubs, bars and nightclubs
cafes and restaurants
offices and factories
work vehicles used by more than one person
A Guide to Drinking Alcohol
Under the Licensing (NI) Order 1996, anyone under 18 years of age is not allowed to buy alcohol or consume alcohol in a place other than a private house. It is an offence for a person to buy alcohol for consumption by a person under the age of 18. Many towns and cities have strict byelaws which ban the drinking of alcohol in public places such as parks, and on the street and you can be fined for drinking alcohol in public spaces where it is not allowed.
A Guide to Covid-19
As in most countries, Covid-19 is still a concern in Northern Ireland. The government’s vaccination programme has made excellent progress, but people are still required to comply with the Covid-19 restrictions in place - while working, travelling, during leisure time and while out and about. The restrictions are under constant review and are updated regularly – so keep yourself informed and up to date on changes. You can find our more details on Covid-19 regulations at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/coronavirus-covid-19/regulations-and-restrictions