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News from around the 32 counties of Ireland

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Antrim

Former Antrim Mayor 'Glam Pam' Lewis spent more than £2,600 of taxpayers' money on clothes during her term in office, the Antrim Guardian can exclusively reveal.

The figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the DUP MLA spent a total of £16,581 in her year as First Citizen. ?While this was less than the £19,339 average spent by her predecessors since 2007, the nature of her spending has outraged her Council colleagues.

Details of her retail therapy courtesy of the public purse are likely to damage her public persona even further after shocking revelations about her private life earlier this month.

When the 39-year-old's affair with civil servant Michael Cameron hit the headlines few could believe that the devout Free Presbyterian would abandon her devoted husband Ian and their three teenage children.

But in the days following the lurid headlines the DUP MLA confirmed the whispers, telling the Antrim Guardian that it was 'with regret' that her marriage had come to an end.

While Mrs Lewis appealed for privacy she also said she was determined to 'continue to represent all of the people of Antrim' - the same people who have paid more than £200 a month to clothe her in the latest style.
(Source: Antrim Guardian)

Armagh

One of four men arrested in connection with the discovery of a mortar in Co Louth has been granted bail by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

Patrick Tierney (25), of Drumarg Park, Armagh City, Co Armagh was charged with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance, an improvised mortar launcher and a mortar at Dromiskin, Co Louth on November 30, 2010.

He was arrested after a garda investigation into the activities of dissident republicans.

The court granted Tierney bail on his own bond of €100 and two independent sureties totalling €16,500.
Tierney was also ordered to sign on daily at Navan Garda Station, to observe a curfew between 11pm and 7am and to reside at his uncle's address in Nobber, Co Meath.

His co-accused Dalton McKevitt (36) was granted bail in December last year. He was charged with possession of an improvised mortar launcher and a mortar at Commons Road, Dromiskin. He was also charged with IRA membership.

There were no bail applications on behalf of the two other men arrested in connection with the same operation.

They are: Niall Farrell (34), of Closhbrid, Dundalk, Co Louth, who was charged with the unlawful possession of a mortar launcher and with IRA membership; and Patrick Gordon (22), of Newtownhamilton Road, Armagh City is also charged with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance, an improvised mortar launcher and a mortar.

The case was adjourned for mention on July 28.
(Source: Herald.ie)

Carlow

Staff in a Carlow town crèche have been left picking up the pieces after their outside play area was set alight and destroyed.

Milestones Crèche has been open in Friar’s Green housing estate, Tullow Road since 2004.

And yet, for the last two years, staff have been dealing with an increasing number of vandalism incidents.

It culminated last Thursday night when gardaí and the fire brigade were called after the play area was trashed and then set alight.

“It happened at around 10.30pm,” said owner Nuala Holloway. “We’ve had to deal with graffiti on our walls; the staff have had to sweep up cigarette butts and condoms. It has been progressively getting worse.”

Nuala explained that staff only became aware of the destruction when they arrived into work on Friday morning at 7.30am.??“No-one called us to let us know what had happened. When they arrived they found the playhouse had been set alight causing damage to a wall, and all of the ply equipment was pulled apart and smashed. This has been the worse of the regular occurrences.

“No-one seems to have seen anything, so we don’t know who is responsible but it is hard enough to keep a business going and then this happens,” she said.

The crèche caters for children as young as six months up to four years, and Nuala says they are the ones who suffer. “We couldn’t take the children outside today and it is so unfair on them, it is hard to know who is responsible for this but somebody must have seen something.”

(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)

Cavan

A 33-year-old Ecuadorian national was given a six months suspended prison sentence by Judge Sean MacBride, at Cavan District Court, for keeping a brothel in Cavan.

The defendant, Xavier Salazar Valencia, was charged with keeping the brothel at 12, Stonebridge Court, Railway Road, Cavan, on June 10, 2011.

Sergeant James Fraher said that when Gardai searched the apartment on foot of a warrant they found the defendant entertaining a male companion. On further examination they found paraphernalia which could lend credence to the belief that the premises were being used for sexual purposes. They also found four mobile phones and £111 sterling. A gentleman admitted paying €80 for the privilege of being on the premises.

Sergeant Fraher said that the defendant came by invitation to Cavan Garda station where he was interviewed and made a full and frank statement about the activities in the apartment. He was an Ecuadorian national who resided in Spain for a number of years and has been in Ireland since 2011.
Sergeant Fraher agreed with Ms Breege Mimnagh, solicitor, defending, that Senor Valencia co-operated fully with the Gardai.

Ms Mimnagh said that her client apologized fully for his actions and didn't know that they were illegal in Ireland. He studied at university in Ecuador where he obtained a degree in Business Studies. He came to Spain to make money and set up a clothing business with friends. However, he ended up owing a lot of personal debt and came to Ireland where it was recommended that he should go into the area of massage. He foolishly got involved with a company on the internet and thought that it was legal.
(Source: The Anglo Celt)

Clare

A production company working on a €50 million film starring Gérard Depardieu is looking for as many as 200 Clare men to join the British, Roman and Norman armies this summer.

The North Clare landscape will form the backdrop for scenes in the fourth of the Asterix & Obelix series, God Save Brittania.

Water scenes were filmed off the Maltese coast, indoor scenes were filmed in Hungary and all the movie’s exterior shots are being filmed in Ireland.

“The production companies opted for Clare because of the unique landscape and the Burren. It is the pieces of the Burren between Doolin and Fanore that are really something quite unique. They loved it and the karst landscape here. Except for the road going through it, which gives us access, the landscape hasn’t changed in hundreds of years,” Manus Hingerty, locations manager on the project, told The Clare Champion.

Filming, which takes place in early September, will see 150 cast and crew members descend on Doolin and Lisdoonvarna, where up to 200 locals will form the ranks of disputing nations in Roman times. “A lot of money will be spent locally. We are all staying locally and what people forget is the spin-off. We will be buying everything from coffee to newspapers to petrol locally. The cast, which is made up of about 50% Irish and 50% French people, will be in the Burren for two weekends, the one before we start filming and the one in the middle of filming,” Mr Hingerty outlined.

“There will also be a lot of exposure for Clare on the French market. This is the fourth of the Asterix & Obelix movies and they are hugely successful. There is a big budget being invested in this project. I am not saying Clare will be swamped with French tourists but it will have an impact,” Mr Hingerty added.

Filming will mean that the R477 Coast Road from Ballinalacken Castle to south of Fanore village will be closed on Wednesday, August 31 until Friday, September 2 and Monday, September 5 until Friday, September 9 from 7am until 9pm.

“We are very keen that everyone knows we are closing the road. We are very conscious that it has been a bad tourist season and that there have been some signage issues in the county and we want to avoid causing any confusion or difficulties. The film is being shot in 3D and there is a huge amount of gear being used, so for safety reasons we have had to close the road. However, anyone with any queries regarding the road closures or matters arising from it or from filming, can contact Evelyn O’Neill on 086 8313853. She will liaze between the public in Clare and the production company and try to solve any issues that come up,” Mr Hingerty stated.  

The companies behind the production are looking for men aged between 18 and 45 to join the cast as paid extras.
(Source: The Clare Champion)

Cork

A Cork woman, who underwent a sex change operation eleven years ago, will not divorce her wife of 35 years in order to get a birth certificate affirming her female gender, despite proposed legislation.

Diane Hughes, from Macroom, formerly Richard Hughes, has been married to Caroline for around 35 years and both have raised their son Gareth.

Despite Diane’s sex change operation in 2000, the couple remain happy and dedicated to each other.
She said she would never end her marriage to Caroline to obtain the documents.

“I’d far rather stay married. I just couldn’t do it – it’s just not for me. But it does grind me to see how the State has handled this. They only moved on it because of the pressure that Lydia Foy’s case has placed on the country, since we are so behind compared with the rest of Europe,” she said.

“Transgender people are considered half citizens and are not cared for by the State, even though Gender Identity Disorder is a medical, biological condition.”

She said people were born with their rights, but that transgender people had them taken away by the State.
Source: (Cork Independent)

Derry

Police in Derry have apologized to a young Strabane couple after arresting them both moments before their wedding, on suspicion it was a so-called ‘sham marriage’.

Twenty-four-years-old Neil McElwee and his 19-years-old bride Yanan Sun, who is four months pregnant, had just arrived at the Guildhall on Tuesday when police flooded the ceremony room, arresting the couple and detaining their guests for questioning.

“Yanan had just arrived and we had filled out our final paperwork. The ceremony was just about to start when we were told there was ‘a bit of a problem’. Eight police officers then came in and we were arrested.

“In front of everyone, our family and our friends, they said the wedding was a sham. I couldn’t believe it. I started shouting at them to stop. I told them they would be sorry. We knew we were in the right.
“The only sham which took place on Tuesday was how the police acted.”

The couple were taken to Strand Road police station where they were seperated and questioned for five hours before being released unconditionally. Nineteen years old Yanan was so devastated by the ordeal that once she reached Strand Road she asked officers to be allowed to change out of her wedding dress.

“It is not what I dreamed of for my wedding day,” she said. “I am left absolutely devastated.”
“Yanan did not even have her wedding dress on for ten minutes. ” Neil said.

All 40 guests at the wedding were detained at the Guildhall on Tuesday while police questioned the, Neil’s aunt, Leonie McElwee, was one of the last to leave.
(Source: Derry Journal)

Donegal

A man who had served a sentence for manslaughter in Lithuania set up a cannabis factory in Donegal just months after arriving in Ireland, a court has heard.

Andrious Gruodis (32), was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court of possession of more than €23,000 of cannabis and €400 of BZP tablets at a house at Beechwood Avenue in Ballybofey on January 6th last.

The court heard gardaí investigated the house after receiving information about suspicious activity at the address.

Detective Sgt. Niall Boyle said that during a visit to the house gardaí discovered the ESB supply had been by-passed and found plant pots and small balls of plastic insulation at the back door.

On leaving the house they spoke to a man walking towards the address who they discovered was the tenant of the house.

When gardaí obtained a search warrant Gruodis admitted he had the tablets and cannabis plants in the house. The 84 and a half tablets were for his own personal use, he said.

On entry to the house gardaí noticed a strong smell of cannabis. Gruodis showed them a underground garage where there were 58 cannabis plants and an extractor fan. He admitted he was the sole tenant and had rented the property for the purpose of growing cannabis which he intended to sell.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)

Down

A UK retail chain is to invest £250,000 and create over 20 jobs in a Co Down town centre.

Budget department store chain The Original Factory Shop will open a new store in Warrenpoint next month.

The new shop will occupy the redundant Freshfields site on Newry Road, in a move the company believes will breathe new life into the town.

Mark Riddell, from Savills property consultants, who acted on behalf of the retailer, said: "The Original Factory Shop is the right type of store for this location and the investment by the company is an indication that they are committed to developing their footprint in Northern Ireland."

The low price retailer already has five Northern Ireland stores, in Bangor, Omagh, Kilkeel, Holywood and Dungannon, employing nearly 100 people in total.

As well as the new Warrenpoint store, there are plans to open a store in Ballycastle and one in Portrush - representing two of the 400 potential UK store locations identified by the company.

No further details on these stores are available yet, but discussions are ongoing and it is believed the new shops could each employ around 20 people

The Original Factory Shop already has over 170 stores, employs a total of 2,600 people and has a turnover of over £132m.

The company was established in 1969, selling seconds originally manufactured for Marks and Spencer.

Today, it sells branded goods as well as products originally made for other high street retailers or supermarkets and aims to bring department stores to smaller or more rural towns.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)

Dublin

Dublin crime godfather Eamon Kelly follows his wife’s coffin, his face a picture of grief.

The 62-year-old gangster is seen at the funeral of his wife Ann – who died with a broken heart five months after Kelly’s son passed away in tragic circumstances.

The city’s underworld turned out in force at a north Dublin church as a mark of respect to the feared crime boss.

Among those who attended the funeral, at St Brigid's Church in Killester, were 'Border Fox' Dessie O'Hare and Kelly's close pal Brian O'Reilly.

Members of The Don's gang also showed up. Kelly mentored The Don -- gangster Eamon Dunne -- before Dunne was murdered last year.

Ann Kelly, the wife of convicted drug dealer Eamon Kelly, is understood to have died peacefully at St Francis Hospice in Raheny last Monday after a long battle against illness.

Her funeral mass took place last Wednesday.

The untimely death of her son Stephen (32) earlier this year is believed to have had a devastating effect on the woman, who had no involvement in crime.

Her husband narrowly cheated death himself 10 months ago, when a gunman botched a hit on him close to the couple's home in Killester.

Eamon Kelly led the hundreds of mourners which included Dessie O'Hare as well as a number of members of The Don's gang.

Former INLA boss O'Hare has been a close pal of Eamon Kelly, an ex-Official IRA member, for several years and the two criminals have often been spotted drinking together in a northside pub.

Another mourner was Kelly's brother Matthew (65) who was ordered in July 2002 to pay €3.6million in unpaid taxes after an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
 (Source: The Evening Herald)

Fermanagh

As one of the world's smallest cars the Peel P50 isn't exactly a practical family vehicle.

There's no room for children, shopping bags, or even a dog, yet it takes pride of place in the driveway of one family from County Fermanagh.

Pat Monaghan recently refurbished the mircocar with the help of his nephews Stephen and Edward - more than 30 years after their father bought it.

"Jim got it in 1972," said Pat.

"His first son was one at the time, and he bought it with him in mind. He wanted to pass it on.

"He (Jim) didn't get to drive it much himself though, he passed away in 1975."

Following his brother's death, Pat decided to place the car in storage to protect it from his boisterous young nephews.

"I didn't want the boys breaking it," he added.

He has since restored the three-wheeler to its full glory and with a new engine, paint work and steering the Peel P50 is enjoying a new lease of life.

"It took three or four years to restore it. He had to get parts from China and Hong Kong.

"We have it out a good bit now. We just brought it down to the Lady of the Lakes festival in Fermanagh."

Britain's smallest vehicle was originally manufactured on the Isle of Man and there are just 20 left in the world.

Its impressive credentials make it a collectors' item, but Pat is adamant he won't be parting with his beloved mircocar any time soon.

"We have been tempted, but I can definitely say it is not for sale. It is a family heirloom and we are very privileged to have it," he added.
(Source: BBC News)

Galway

The organizers of the Galway Races are expecting a recession-busting windfall of up to €60 million for the local economy during this year’s summer festival, which gets underway next Monday evening.Around 150,000 people are expected to pass through the turnstiles at Ballybrit, with up to 30,000 more expected in the ‘free’ enclosure area.

But in a sign of the times, the skies over the city will remain relatively silent, with just 70 helicopter landings expected over the entire week – a far cry from the Celtic Tiger’s roar in 2007 when there were 320 chopper landings on Ladies’ Day alone.

Meanwhile, hoteliers have said that while Race Week is their ‘bread and butter’ for the year, their rates are down 30% from the peak of the boom.

Racecourse Manager John Moloney told the Connacht Tribune that advance ticket sales are quite strong, and attendance figures are likely to be on a par with last year.

Despite the economic slump, he said he is confident that the week will prove a huge success.

“The Galway Races is a law unto itself. The vibes are good, advance ticket sales are good, hotels have strong bookings for the week, and the trends around other racecourses are positive with attendances picking up, so we’re hopeful of a good week.

“It’s a hive of activity at the moment, the bars are being stocked, the food is arriving, the big screens are being put in place, and a new presentation podium is being erected in the parade ring,” said Mr Moloney.
(Source: GalwayBay Fm)

Kerry

A man’s body was recovered from deep in the Conor Pass near Dingle, Co Kerry, after a passerby noted the wall of the mountain pass car park at the summit had been broken and spotted a car 300m down the hillside late Friday night.

Dingle Sea and Cliff Rescue sent down a team and found the body beside the car.

The body was removed by the Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter. A postmortem was being carried out at Kerry General Hospital
(Source: Irish Times)

Kildare

An extended family of settled Travellers with a home in Newbridge, is at the centre of a major welfare fraud investigation involving more than a million euro.

The family, of which one branch is understood to be running a business in Newbridge, has been extensively investigated by social welfare inspectors and gardaí.

The investigations indicated that a total of around 16 members of the family have been involved in making fraudulent social welfare claims amounting to over €1m.This has been done through claiming a variety of different benefits which amounted to around €50,000 annually over a period of several years.

Those involved are believed to have claimed unemployment benefit, child support and other welfare payments both in this country and in the UK. False identities are alleged to have been used, with a further allegation that some of the claimants received payments for children who were not their own.

Newbridge gardaí co-operated in the investigation, which involved searches at homes in Clondalkin, Blanchardstown, Balbriggan and Swords, as well as at the Newbridge property.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)

Kilkenny

A Polish national who impersonated his brother in order to fraudulently obtain his social welfare which he then sent back to him in Poland had his case adjourned. Mariusz Swiader, 3 Lintown Crescent, Johnswell admitted to eleven fraud-related offences on dates between May and December 2009.

The court heard that in May 2010 social welfare staff reported the incident to detectives and stated that they believed that the defendant was signing and collecting social welfare payments for her brother in Poland.

The sum obtained totalled 5,358.40 euro.

His solicitor told the court that the defendant sent the money back to his brother in Poland and did not benefit financally.

“His brother earns 400 euro a month and is willing to make payments of 50 euro per month. My client has a wife and a young son and is on social welfare and they receive 340 euro per week. He has no previous convictions and is of good character and has been in Ireland for four years. He is willing to repay 100 euro per month. Judge David Anderson adjourned the case until July 28.

“They would want to come up with something substantially better than that,” he told the court.
(Source: Kilkenny People)

Laois

Children who need vital dental treatment from the orthodontist could be waiting at least two years for the treatment. Parents are now considering taking their children to other counties in the face of a two year waiting list locally for the service.

A Rathdowney schoolboy who was told in second class that he would need braces, will now begin secondary school without even being assessed by the orthodontist.

“We knew from when he was seen by the dentist in second class that he would probably need braces, but he wouldn’t be seen again until he was in sixth class,” his distraught mother said this week. “He was seen in October 2010 by the dentist in Rathdowney and we were told that he definitely needed braces. We went on the waiting list in January of this year and when I rang about the assessment I was told that it would be at least a year and a half. It will probably be another year before he gets braces. He will be at least 15 by the time he gets the treatment he needs now.

“It would be around €4,500 to get the braces, but we can’t afford this. My daughter will need braces too. We’re at a dead end.” The Rathdowney parent said she was waiting to hear if it was possible to transfer to another county that has a shorter waiting list.

“I would travel anywhere if it meant that he got seen to. He does need braces, so it’s not a case that he will be assessed and then told he doesn’t need them. This is probably going to end up costing him money as an adult,” she said.
(Source: Leinster Express)

Leitrim

A local businessman out for a night with friends was assaulted in the early hours of this morning (Thursday, July 21).

Gardai attended the scene of a dispute at 1am in a premises on Main Street, Carrick-on-Shannon at 1am.

A man was taken to hospital but was not seriously injured in the incident. Gardai are following a definite line of enquiry in relation to the incident.
(Source: Leitrim Observer)

Limerick

A Limerick man who stabbed his neighbor to death is beginning a life sentence after he was convicted of murdering the 29-year-old.

Richard Higgins. 42, who has an address at New houses Lattin, Co Tipperary but who is originally from Lenihan Avenue in the city had denied murdering Sean Murphy on January 17, 2010.

During the 12 day trial, which was heard at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Limerick, evidence was heard that Higgins stabbed his next-door neighbour with an ornamental dagger outside their homes in Lattin.

The jury was told the relationship between the next-door neighbors deteriorated a number of months before the killing after the accused man’s partner complained that Mr Murphy’s children had been behaving inappropriately.

During garda interviews following his arrest Higgins claimed he had been acting in self-defense as Mr Murphy has struck him with a timber stick.

The jury took just over five hours to return a unanimous guilty verdict.

They also returned a majority guilty verdict in relation to two counts of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Murphy and his partner, Paula Hassett, in October 2009.

Richard Higgins did not react when the court registrar read out the verdict of the jury but there were emotional scenes in the public gallery where members of Mr Murphy’s family were seated.

In his victim impact statement the victim’s father, Sean Murphy Snr, said his family’s lives were shattered after his son was “brutally” taken from them and he said they have been left with “grief and loss as a daily companion”.

Mr Murphy Snr refuted suggestions that his son was a violent man and he said his family had sought justice from the trial and not revenge.

He also appealed to all of his son’s friends to remember the “larger than life” figure who was the “life and soul” of every party and he urged them to celebrate his life.
(Source: Limerick Leader)

Longford

Arson has not been ruled out as the cause behind a fire which ripped through a vacant house outside Edgeworthstown during the early hours of last Sunday morning.

Detectives said on Monday they were keeping an open mind on the fire and appealed to members of the public to assist them with their investigation.

The house, a large sized bungalow situated on the main N4 Longford to Edgeworthstown road, was effectively gutted by the blaze which broke out at around 1:30am.

Crime scene investigators who carried out a detailed forensic search of the scene are understood to be focusing much of their attention on the front of the property.

Although investigators have so far remained tight-lipped, it’s believed petrol may have been used as a means of starting the fire.

The Leader has also learned the owner of the property was outside the country at the time of the incident as gardai look at ways of establishing a motive behind last Sunday’s incident.

“We (gardai) receieved a call at about 1:30am when the alarm went off and a keyholder noticed the house was on fire,” said a garda spokesperson.

As gardai continue with their enquiries by taking statements from eye witnesses, one angle that is being examined is whether the blaze forms part of an ongoing or newly instigated fued. The house had been targeted for attack on at least one other occasion when a suspected petrol bomb was found nearby.

However, Gardai were keen to stress that they are keeping an open mind on the incident and are unsure if the blaze was feud related at this point.

“We don’t know yet,” added the spokesperson. “We think the house was empty for a couple of weeks.”
(Source: Longford Leader)

Louth

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has dismissed fears over the future of the Louth County Hospital insisting that it was “very secure.”

Speculation over the future of the hospital has been rife for years but speculation over its future grew recently when a HSE draft report was leaked to the Irish Times suggesting that the hospital had been considered for closure.

However, speaking to LMFM’S Michael Reade in Leinster House last week, Minister Reilly insisted there was “no risk” of the hospital closing and said its “future is secure.”

Dr Reilly made his remarks after meeting with a newly formed hospital committee, put together by Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick. The new committee included Carlingford-based GP Dr Bart Cullen, general nurse Louise Weinberg and Liam Oliver of the IFA.

Following the meeting, Minister Reilly moved to lay fears over the hospital’s future.

He said: “I’m very happy to say to the people of Louth that the Dundalk hospital has a very secure future.

“Even in the last while, if I can compare some of the activities that were going on there, there was very little care of the elderly or no cases in 2009. It rose to 162 in 2010 and there are 388 cases so far in 2011. The treatment of people with haemochromatosis has risen from 535 cases in 2009 to 1,783 expected at the end of this year and in relation to colposcopy, none were done in 2009 and there were 3,083 done last year.

“Surgery has gone from 3,416 cases to 3,659 last year. Radiology was 534 examinations and that has gone up to 1,519 and I expect it to reach over 3,000 this year and outpatient sessions have gone from 933 to 974 last year.
(Source: Dundalk Democrat)

Mayo

An application by the Clare Island Community Centre Committee for a seven-day publican’s license was unsuccessful at Wednesday’s sitting of Clifden Circuit Court. However, the presiding judge did admit that the application would be looked at again if certain planning issues were addressed.

The committee of the Clare Island Community Centre had made the application for a seven-day publican’s license because they felt their current club licence was restrictive. During the course of the application, they had argued that the licensed aspect would be beneficial to communities activities which already were taking place in the centre.

However, in making his judgement, Judge Raymond Groarke said that if he came to that conclusion he would be ‘engaging in fiction’ and he could not do that.

He said it seemed to him that when the plans for the centre were being drawn, the local authority never contemplated the premises would have been used as ‘a licensed premises of any sort, club or seven-day license’.

He felt a number of issues raised by objectors surrounding the centre were of a planning nature rather than a licensing issue and he could not rule on such issues.
(Source: The Mayo News)

Meath

Youngsters who had become "terrorists on the streets", teenagers intimidating mothers over their children's drug debts and the vicious beating of a 17 year-old as he walked home from a bus were among the incidents of crime and antisocial behavior highlighted at a meeting of Kells Town Council this week.

The mother of a 13 year-old Kells boy had groups of slightly older teenagers calling to her door to collect her son's 'drug debt', the meeting on Monday night heard, while councillors claimed there were people afraid to walk the streets at night because of a gang of teenagers.

Cllr Conor Ferguson proposed that the council seek a meeting with the gardai in relation to antisocial behavior and drug problems in the town. He was told that the council would be meeting with the local garda superintendant in September with a view to setting up a Joint Policing Committee (JPC) for Kells.

Cllr Ferguson told the meeting that a mother had 15 and 16 year-olds coming to her door looking for money they said her 13 year-old owed them for drugs.

"This young fellow would never have been interested in drugs, but because of peer pressure, had said 'yes', and now five or six young fellows at a time were coming to his mother's door," he claimed. He said the council had a responsibility to residents of its estates to allow them to live with a sense of security.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)

Monaghan

A diesel laundering operation has been discovered in Co Monaghan, while in Co Louth thousands of liters of toxic diesel wash have been discovered dumped on the side of the road.

Revenue officials, backed up by gardaí and officials from the Department of Agriculture raided a farm in Ballybay, Co Monaghan, this morning and discovered a diesel laundering operation.
It was hidden in a shed behind bales of straw.

It had the capacity to launder approximately four million liters of fuel per year which could have cost the Exchequer up to €1.8m a year in lost revenue.

Revenue officials also seized 36,000 liters of fuel, bleaching earth to 'wash' the color from agricultural diesel, two tankers and one grain lorry which had a concealed tank inside for distributing the laundered fuel around the country.

Approximately 5,000 liters of toxic waste was also found at the site. This is the highly acidic sludge left after the dye is removed from agricultural diesel.
(Source: RTE News)

Offaly

The change in mileage necessary for third level grants may see some Tullamore student’s grants halved.

The issue was raised at the July meeting of Tullamore Town Council by Cllr Tommy McKeigue.

He said the kilometre requirement had changed and as a result some students may not now get their full grants to attend Athlone IT. “This needs to be clarified. This could have major reprecussions for people in Offaly,” he said.

Cllr Sinead Dooley said the VEC was only implementing Government policy. She said she would as the CEO of Offaly VEC to write to councillors to clarify this.
(Source: Offaly Express)

Roscommon

Fine Gael has lost control of Roscommon Co Council after two former Fine Gael councillors and two independent councillors, representing the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee, pulled out of a power-sharing agreement.

They were protesting over the closure of the Emergency Department in Roscommon.

Fianna Fáil's Eugene Murphy was subsequently elected Mayor of Roscommon - defeating Fine Gael's Ollie Moore.

Cllr Moore was the party's nominee to be elected council chairman three weeks ago, however, the AGM was postponed at the request of council members who were awaiting the decision of the Government on the hospital issue.
(Source: The Roscommon Champion)

Sligo

A south Sligo woman told Ballymote Court how her family was "devastated" as a result of what Judge Kevin Kilrane described as "evil and vicious" allegations made anonymously about them by a former neighbor to the Health Service Executive, her husband's employer and the gardai.
"I cannot put into words how we felt," the woman told the court.

During a case lasting more than two hours, the court heard of anonymous allegations by letters and phone that children were not being properly cared for, fed or clothed; that they were malnourished, physically assaulted and had access to pornography, that there was drinking and disturbance in the children's home, that the children's father fell legless out a pub drunk, and that he was working while having consumed alcohol.

The man's job and the family's livelihood were put on the line because of the allegations, the court heard.

However, extensive investigations by the HSE and the gardai found the allegations to be unfounded, resulting in the defendant, also a mother, being summoned before the court on a number of alleged offences.

Having heard the evidence in the case, Judge Kilrane described the defendant as "an absolute disgrace" who poisoned another family and tried to do them harm with lies, half-truths and no truths. Unfounded, shocking allegations had been made against two decent people, he said.

"I want to know what sort of person I am dealing with or are you downright evil," the Judge asked. The woman replied she did not believe she was evil, adding that she acted on information given to her, that she thought she was doing right and that her only concern was for the children.

The court also heard the defendant herself and her children had a difficult past and endured dreadful circumstances, that she suffered violence and evil, emotional and physical abuse, including an attempt on her life. Her own experience had "colored" what she did, she said.
(Source: The Sligo Champion)

Tipperary

Templemore Garda College will continue to serve Templemore, North Tipperary and the ranks of An Garda Síochana long into the future, Junior Minister Alan Kelly said at a graduation ceremony for Garda Reserve recruits last week.

Deputy Kelly said had received a reassurance from the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, that Templemore Garda College still had a bright future despite the lack of Garda recruitment.

“It’s time to put this issue to bed once and for all. Contrary to some recent reports, there is absolutely no question that this college is going to close down due to lack of Garda recruitment. It also provides a huge variety of training to members of every rank – and that work will continue. This college is, and will remain, an integral part of the institutions of the Garda force nationally. It will diversify its work and complement the work that is ongoing. It will also offer some services to other state agencies,” he said.
(Source: Tipperary Star)

Waterford

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has paid more than €325,000 to a local company owned by the Chairman of the HSE, who were mainly in charge of taking phone queries in relation to medical cards.

Chairman of the HSE Frank Dolphin and his wife Adrienne are main shareholders of Rigney Dolphin, which was paid €291,927 in 2010, after dealing with over 191,000 phone calls, at a cost to the HSE of €1.53 per call.

Short-term administrative support at Waterford Regional Hospital has also been provided through Rigney Dolphin, who operate a customer service, staff recruitment and business process outsourcing business. The cost of this short-term agency contract, which will cease shortly, was €13,091.48 in 2010 and €20,555.07 in 2011.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)

Westmeath

Fifty full-time jobs could be on the cards for the wider Monksland area of Athlone in the near future, after the Sonas Group revealed plans this week to build a second state-of-art nursing home in the town.

The company, which already runs a nursing home in Cloghanboy employing close to 50 staff, is proposing to build a 65-bed state-of-the-art nursing home near the Monksfield housing estate in Bealnamulla.

"There is a huge demand for nursing home beds in Athlone at the moment," Seamus Crawley, Operations and Development Manager and a Director of the Sonas Group, explained to the Westmeath Independent this week of the main driver behind the company's ambitious plans.

"It's a very positive development for the Athlone area. Hopefully, there will be around 30 construction jobs starting in 2012 and it should take a year.
(Source: Westmeath Independent)

Wicklow

Nine walkers had a dice with death as they were rescued from the Glen of Imaal Artillery Range after two separate groups wandered into the firing zone over the weekend.

The almost identical incidents occurred on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

The first case involved a party of seven who became disorientated while descending Leinster's highest peak, Lugnaquilla, and strayed into the defense forces operated artillery impact zone.

Four of the group managed to pass through the zone and raise the alarm. Their three companions remained in the danger zone and tried unsuccessfully to use a Blackberry to provide a map reference so Wicklow's mountain rescue teams could reach them. They were finally located near Leoh Mountain and escorted to safety.
(Source: The Wicklow People)

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