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News from around the 32 counties of Ireland

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ANTRIM

A veteran councilor has warned that budget online retailers are driving the final nail into Antrim's coffin.

The economic downturn has ravaged a town center, which has been in steady decline for several years – and Alderman Sam Dunlop fears the worst is yet to come.

Last week it was confirmed that the web had continued to decimate the holiday trade too, with Co-Operative Travel in Antrim in danger of being forced to pack its bags and leave the high street.
[Source: Antrim Guardian]

ARMAGH

The local man who spearheaded last year’s community campaign to save Bell’s Castle has told the Examiner he and his group of campaigners are “absolutely delighted” that the recent sale of the historical building has led to immediate repairs being carried out.

Killeavy man Deaglan Mulgrew said the group’s interests were always in the preservation of the castle and extended their full support to the new owner, who has indicated that he is keen to return the building and estate to its former glory.

The historic castle, which sits on the slopes of Slieve Gullion, was sold at auction two weeks ago to an overseas bidder for $1.81 million.  Originally put on the market last October with a guide price of $1,480,000, the castle was the initial focus for Mulgrew’s group, who tirelessly lobbied for the grade one listed building to be rescued from its rapid state of deterioration.
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]

CARLOW

A man who stole an A.T.M. containing $265,000 from a service station has been jailed for six years.

Michael Berry (35), of Hillview, Carnew, County Wicklow, stole the A.T.M. and the cash from Maxol Service Station at Bellefield Road, Enniscorthy, on July 24, 2009.

He was also found guilty, after a trial last November, of stealing a vehicle, a trailer, a set of car keys, and of damaging the service station premises.

Wexford Circuit Criminal Court was told the Ulster Bank A.T.M. had been forcibly removed and taken to premises in Staplestown, Co. Carlow, where the cash was divided between four gang members.
[Source: Irish Independent]

CAVAN

The number of estates exempt from paying the local property tax has fallen by almost 90 percent, according to a new figures published by the Department for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The list shows that in Cavan only 17 local estates are now exempt from paying the charge, down from 149 only 12 months previous.

The new list, the department says, reflects the significant progress made by local authorities in reducing the number of problem estates. Approximately 5,000 households nationwide are eligible for an exemption under section 10 of the Finance Local Property Tax Act 2011.

Of those estates exempt, five are in Mullagh, two in Virginia, Loch Gowna and Cavan Town, and one each in Bawnboy, Ballyjamesduff, Shercock, Bailieborough and Belturbet.
[Source: The Anglo Celt]

CLARE

Unscrupulous landlords in Clare are charging prostitutes exorbitant rent for apartments in order for them to turn a blind eye to their activities, Gardaí (police) have confirmed.

Up to 10 prostitutes are operating from apartments and hotels in Clare in a given week, the Clare Champion can reveal, prompting calls for a change in legislation to criminalize the users to decrease demand.

The Clare Champion found eight prostitutes advertising their services in Clare in one day on a single website. When these women were contacted, it was found that three were available at the time they were contacted; two were offering services from an apartment; while the third was offering services from a hotel. Prices per half-hour varied from $90 to $130.
[Source: Clare Champion]

CORK

A Cork doctor has spoken of how she contemplates taking her own life because of the pressure she and her family face from banks to repay her college loans.

The doctor, from north Cork, but now living in North America, trained in University College Cork and is fully-qualified. She initially moved to Canada to complete fellowship training in 2010 but now cannot move home because of costs – primarily the repayments.

“I feel trapped and miserable,” said Sheila, who wished to keep her identity secret.

“I worked so hard for so long and it seems like it's resulted in just more misery. I think of the weddings and funerals I missed, my friend who died before I got to say goodbye and all the people I didn't spend time with because I was working. It was for nothing really.”
[Source: Cork Independent]

DERRY

Police were justified in publishing a 14-year-old boy’s photograph as part of an investigation into sectarian rioting in Derry, the High Court ruled last Thursday.

Senior judges held that it was a necessary step for the P.S.N.I. to release a series of images of suspects to local newspapers.

Lawyers for the boy claimed the decision was taken after sustained street violence at a city interface in the summer of 2010 breached his right to privacy.

But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: “I am satisfied, however, that in this case the balance came down firmly in favor of the publication of the photographs.”
[Source: Derry Journal]

DONEGAL

Twelve-year-olds sat in a playground in Bundoran two weekends ago drinking alcohol openly. Some of them were “out of their heads,” a member of Bundoran Town Council has claimed.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the council says what he witnessed last weekend was “frightening.”

It has been claimed that when Gardaí (police) moved in to confiscate the alcohol, more drink was quickly procured and the drinking continued.

Now a councilor is asking where the young people got the drink and what their parents were doing while the young people were drinking.
[Source: Donegal Democrat]

DOWN

Newry and Mourne Citizens Advice Bureau is appealing for volunteers with experience of working within the legal system, to help ease the pressure on the representation service it offers to clients appealing benefit decisions.

And until it is able to recruit such volunteers, the group has been forced to limit the number of appeal hearings it can offer representation at, as there is only one full-time representative currently employed in this post.

Rosemarie McDonnell, Manager of the Newry C.A.B. branch explained that, since the introduction of the reassessment of people on the former Incapacity Benefit, the bureau has seen a 60 percent increase in the number of people appealing Employment Support Allowance (E.S.A.) decisions.   The added pressure on an already over-stretched service, as well as the huge stress and hardship placed on clients, has led the charity to take the major decision to recruit volunteers with a legal background.
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]

DUBLIN

A born-again Christian who was clocked doing more than 120 M.P.H. during a high-speed chase that closed the M50 said he fled from Gardaí (police) in a "moment of madness.”

Charity volunteer Paul Byrne (44), from Foxrock Grove in Dublin, was chased by Gardaí from Blackrock to Templeogue, and believed his 600cc Yamaha R6 could out-run them.

He was charged at Dun Laoghaire District Court with eight counts of dangerous driving and having no insurance, and will be sentenced next month. Byrne is pleading guilty to the offenses.
[Source: Evening Herald]

FERMANAGH

A little two-year-old boy from Enniskillen who lost the card he made for Mother’s Day has been reunited with the card, thanks to an appeal made through the Fermanagh Herald.

Reece Wills (2) had made the Mother’s Day card with the help of staff at New Hope Day Nursery for his mother, Sonia, but then, somehow – on the way home – the card was lost.

It was found near the Erne Hospital by a local man, Michael Keown, as he walked to a match in Brewster Park and, as he explained to the Herald, he thought a family might be missing it, so he handed it into the Herald office.
[Source: Fermanagh Herald]

GALWAY

A former Christian Brother who is charged with the sexual abuse of a boy at Letterfrack Industrial School during the 1960s, has told a jury he had a very happy childhood himself.

The 72-year-old retired primary school teacher, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was giving evidence at his trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, where he denies six charges of indecently assaulting a boy on dates between August 1965 and April 1967, in his bedroom beside a dormitory in Letterfrack.

His evidence was in stark contrast to the evidence given by his alleged victim last Wednesday on the opening day of the trial.
[Source: Galway Bay FM]

KERRY

The divine inspiration for patrons in Killarney’s Speakeasy bar – to place a bet – came from a woman whose identity has not been revealed.

She reportedly “told anyone who was prepared to listen” to have a 50-1 bet on a certain Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of whom they had never heard before.

Several of the Kerry pub’s customers took the inspired tip for the Argentinian, whose name had not been mentioned among the frontrunners for the papacy by seasoned Vatican watchers and pundits.

“The woman came into the bar around 12:30 p.m. on the day of the papal election,” said pub manager Gavin O’Donoghue. “She said she had got a text message and asked to pass it on.”
[Source: Irish Examiner]

KILDARE

A new family support group is being set up in Athy in response to what is described as a major drug problem in the area, especially in respect of the use of heroin.

The group, being set up with the support of the County Kildare Leader Partnership and a number of other organizations, will aim to help family members, partners or friends of those who have a drug or alcohol addiction and the first meeting will take place on Monday, March 25.

According to Noreen Ardill from the Leader Partnership, the need for a group like this was highlighted when an addiction studies course was organized locally.
[Source: Kildare Nationalist]

KILKENNY

A crowd of 25,000 people enjoyed the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Kilkenny City where pirates fought with the pope and where current All-Ireland winning captain, Eoin Larkin, received a drenching from the float representing rival city club, Dicksboro.

But it was the reenactment of Beal na Blath, where Michael Collins was killed, by Paddy Leyden’s pub on John Street, Kilkenny, that stunned spectators during the hour-long parade, which was one of the best in the city for many years with the theme of the Gathering at its core.

Dicksboro G.A.A. club won most entertaining float. It had Pope Francis, a cardinal and two buxom nuns on board and the slogans, “Other clubs have no hope, ‘cos the Boro has the pope,” and “Francis has his holy crown and gave his blessing to Palmerstown.” As the float went past the reviewing stand outside city hall, a cardinal, acting on the pope’s instructions, drenched the Village’s Eoin Larkin, who was the grand marshal for the day. The army man saw the funny side of things and shielded his son Allen and daughter Hally from the water pistol-armed cardina,l who has not been identified. He also soaked high ranking Gardaí (police) and politicians including John McGuinness T.D., chairman of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee.
[Source: Kilkenny People]

LAOIS

A 21-year-old man has been advised by Judge Catherine Staines to seek treatment for his drink problem, having been arrested for a public order disturbance in which he was so drunk he fell over in the street.

Before the district court was Martin Casey, with an address at 6 Elm Lawn, Portlaoise, who was charged with being intoxicated in a public place, and using threatening or abusive behavior. The offenses were committed at Kilminchy, Portlaoise, on February 19.

Inspector Martin Harrington gave evidence that Gardaí (police) were called to Kilminchy village at 7 p.m., where they discovered two men, one of whom was the defendant, shouting at each other in the street. The two men were directed to leave the scene, but continued to shout. Casey eventually lost his balance and fell to the ground. He was subsequently arrested.

The court heard that Casey has 10 previous convictions.
[Source: Leinster Express]

LEITRIM

Artistic Director Joe Moore has put together another fabulous program of music and dance for the forthcoming Millennium Choir concerts in Mohill and Carrick-on-Shannon.

In commemoration of the Carrick 400th anniversary, Carrick native and rising star Ailie Blunnie of the multi-talented Blunnie family of Summerhill, has penned “And Sleep is Sweet in Carrick Town,” a lively anthem reviewing Carrick’s history and based upon one of the poems by Carrick-born poet and satirical writer Susan L. Mitchell (1866 – 1926).

The anthem has been a treat to learn for the choir, and it is predicted to remain long in the musical tradition of Leitrim and possibly further afield.
[Source: Leitrim Observer]

LIMERICK

A verdict of accidental death was recorded at the inquest of a cyclist who died after she was knocked down and dragged under a truck more than six years ago.

Nadia Lescuier (31), who was originally from France, had been living in Limerick for less than six months when the fatal accident happened at Plassy Road, Castletroy on October 18, 2006.

Limerick Coroners Court heard last Wednesday that Ms. Lescuier and her husband, Jacky Lebigire, were cycling home from work to their apartment at Mallow Street in the city center at around 4 p.m. when a lorry pulled across Ms. Lescuier as it was entering a construction site near the entrance to the University of Limerick.
[Source: Limerick Leader]

LONGFORD

There is no disputing the rising popularity of white-collar boxing as a fundraising event, and one of the most eagerly anticipated white-collar events takes place on Easter Saturday night when the Longford Arms Hotel will host the “Brawl in the Hall.”

“Brawl in the Hall” is a white-collar boxing event in memory of the late Angela Rogers, late of Harbour Row, Longford Town, who passed away in April 2012. Family and friends have come together to organize the fundraiser in her memory and to give something back to the hospice.

One of the organizers is her son, Noelie, who told the Leader: “Few of us do not know either a neighbor, friend, or close family member who has not been affected by a terminal illness and know the marvelous work that the Longford Hospice do.”
[Source: Longford Leader]

LOUTH

Louth T.D. Gerry Adams has welcomed the significant raids north and south two weeks ago by the Gardaí (police), P.S.N.I. and Revenue and Customs bodies against fuel-laundering criminals.

Adams said, “[On March 15] Sinn Féin Councilors Edel Corrigan and Jim Loughran and I met senior Garda for North Louth in Dundalk.

“The meeting discussed a range of matters including fuel laundering by criminal gangs in the north Louth area. We had also met the P.S.N.I. several months ago and raised the same issue with them.”
[Source: Dundalk Democrat]

MAYO

The family of a young Crossmolina man who took his own life after he suffered months of bullying and torment has encouraged young people not to “suffer in silence” and to understand there are viable alternatives to suicide.

Andrew McGuinn (21) of Mullenmore, Crossmolina, suffered from nearly a year of abuse and harassment unbeknown to his family. He took his own life on the evening of April 2, 2012. He was found dead by his mother the following morning in his bedroom of his family home in Crossmolina.

The 21-year-old had no history of depression. His mother Carmel told his inquest in Ballina two weeks ago that she saw nothing out of the ordinary in the days before his death. The thought of her son committing suicide never occurred to her, she said.
[Source: The Mayo News]

MEATH

Slane farmer Eddie Downey, who is currently the deputy president of the Irish Farmer’s Association (I.F.A.), has declared his intent to run for the national presidency of the organization.  Mr. Downey made the announcement at a meeting of the Meath I.F.A. executive last Monday night, where he received the full support of the local organization in his bid to become the first leader of the farmers' body since Tom Clinton in the 1980s.

The powerful farm representative and lobby group represents 88,000 members across 30 executives, and will see presidential elections take place in late November/early December when the current president, John Bryan, steps down after four years in the position.  Mr. Downey farms at Monknewtown, Slane, and has been actively involved in I.F.A. politics since 1990.
[Source: Meath Chronicle]

MONAGHAN

A female pedestrian in her 50s has died after she was struck by a lorry in County Monaghan.

The accident happened just before 1 p.m. last Wednesday on the Main Street in Castleblaney.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, and her body was removed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. The driver of the lorry was uninjured.

The Main Street was closed pending completion of a forensic examination by Gardaí (police). Diversions are in place.
[Source: Irish Examiner]

OFFALY

The buildings and landscape of the Plantation of Leix and Offaly is the subject of a lecture in Tullamore organized by the Offaly History Society this week.

The Plantation of Leix and Offaly was a colonial venture sponsored by the English Government in Ireland. The aim of the plantation was to turn the Gaelic Lordships of Uí Laois and Uí Fáilghe into the shires of Queen’s County and King’s County. The plantation involved a bewildering variety of existing and new buildings adapted to serve defensible farmsteads. These included Anglo-Norman castles, timber castles, tower houses, converted churches and monasteries, new plantation castles, and moated sites.
[Source: Offaly Express]

ROSCOMMON

A prison officer has confronted the prison authorities on the category of “prisoner being considered for transfer” to the planned new step-down facility at Harristown House, Castlerea. At a public meeting in the town two weeks ago, the officer asked how the people of the town would be able to continue to walk in safety when freedom for very serious criminals was just a short walk down the avenue.

The prisoner officer made reference to John Shaw, who was jailed over 30 years ago for the savage sex attack and murder of two women, and who is now being kept in the Grove area of  Castlerea Prison.
[Source: Roscommon Herald]

SLIGO

Two men died in separate drowning incidents last Monday.

A Polish man who had been living in Ireland for a number of years died after being hit by a freak wave on a fishing trip with friends.

The 55-year-old fisherman, who was married and had been living in County Kildare, drowned when he fell off rocks into the sea at Mullaghmore Head, Co. Sligo.
[Source: Irish Independent]

TIPPERARY

Some say there is no love lost between Ballina and Killaloe when it comes to hurling, but last Saturday, the twin towns that straddle the River Shannon were all luvvy-duvvy when they hosted a Love Weekend that included a tug-of-love across the beautiful 13-arch bridge that links the towns.

Instead of a tug-of-war, they got the chance to pit themselves against their partners in a tug-of-love across the bridge.

The first eight couples there got the chance to be involved in the tug-of-love; the winners became love champions and will feature on R.T.É’s Local Heroes program in June.

The idea behind the event stems from a decision by local businesses to work together to attract visitors during the off-season and to market the area as the perfect place to spend the weekend
[Source: Tipperary Star]

TYRONE

An Irish League footballer with a Fermanagh side has wept in court after being accused of rape.
Alvin Rouse, who plays in goals for Ballinamallard United, is also charged with sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment.

The 33-year-old is from Barbados and has been capped by his country.

Rouse, with an address at Old Armagh Road in Monaghan, faces seven charges linked to the incident. He is charged with three counts of rape, two of sexual assault, one of false imprisonment and one of causing a person to engage in a sexual act.

They are alleged to have occurred in the Cookstown area on 29th April last year.
[Source: Tyrone Courier]

WATERFORD

A member of the Dáil's technical group, John Halligan, has said he would rather Luke “Ming” Flanagan walked away from the arrangement.

It follows the Roscommon T.D. admitting his actions in having penalty points quashed were "corrupt."

Under Dáil rules, he cannot be forced out of the technical group, which is a mechanism to allow independent T.D.s have speaking time.

However, Waterford T.D. John Halligan said he would rather Deputy Flanagan just left.
[Source: Waterford News & Star]

WESTMEATH

Thirteen local unfinished estates have been included in the property tax waiver list.

Mullingar's Gleann Petite and Rathgowan developments are amongst the local contingent included on the list of 421 unfinished estates released by the Department of the Environment.

The number of Westmeath estates where homeowners are exempt from paying the unpopular tax is significantly less than the 23 included in the household charge waiver list released last year.
[Source: Westmeath Examiner]

WEXFORD

A motorist has been seriously injured in a major crash on the Wexford to Rosslare road.

The crash occurred shortly before 2 p.m. last Wednesday at Assaly, Killinick, between a lorry and a car.

It is understood a male occupant of the car was seriously injured and taken to Wexford General Hospital for treatment.
[Source: Wexford Echo]

WICKLOW

A Spanish student who suffered catastrophic injuries when he was hit by a bus after stepping on to the road has sued for damages.

Carlos Tesch, from Madrid, was aged 12 and learning English here when the incident occurred in Bray, County Wicklow, in February 2009, the High Court heard.

His counsel, Dermot Gleeson S.C., said last Tuesday that the boy suffered severe head injuries and, as a result, cannot walk or speak and is totally dependent on others.
[Source: Irish Times]

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