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News from around the 32 counties of Ireland

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ANTRIM

Dozens of jobs were dangling by a thread last week after the Planning Service sensationally refused to throw a lifeline to one of the key tenants helping Junction One keep its head above water.

The retail landscape across Antrim has been decimated during the economic downturn, with businesses big and small going to the wall.

Now one of the rare success stories could be facing a similar fate after County Hall controversially decided to enforce arcane planning rules that could prevent them from trading at their current Antrim headquarters.

B&M Retail have been doing brisk business at the retail park since they pulled down the shutters at Castle Mall.

But when it was pointed out that they would require a slight amendment for their planning approval to continue with mixed retailing at their new premises few believed that civil servants would do what the recession had failed to.
[Source: Antrim Guardian]

ARMAGH

The community in Bessbrook is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of a young woman in the village pond on Thursday evening, January 24. Sheena Robb was out for an evening walk by the pond when she fell into the water. A group of young people discovered the woman shortly after 6:00 p.m. and contacted emergency services who performed C.P.R. at the scene. Despite the attempts by paramedics to revive her, the mother-of-two later died.

Mrs. Robb lived opposite the pond and was a well-known and popular neighbor and friend to many.
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]

CARLOW

The two firms behind the Shaws department store chain enjoyed contrasting fortunes last year, writes Gordon Deegan.

The firms operate 15 department stores across the country. Accounts recently filed by Shaw & Sons show that the firm's losses soared 54 percent from $1,026,743 to $1.57 million in the year to the end of January 2012.

The increase in losses follows revenues at the firm – which operates seven of the department stores – slipping from $31.6 million to $31.3 million.

Separate figures show a connected Shaw firm, which operates four department stores and Hadden's Shopping Centre in Carlow, returned to profit last year.
[Source: Irish Independent]

CAVAN

A daughter and two sons-in-law of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn were paid sums totaling about $1,195,000 over a year under employment contracts with Russian companies in the family's international property group, the Commercial Court has heard.

Colette Quinn was paid some $460,000, while her brothers-in-law, Stephen Kelly and Niall McPartland, were paid about $350,000 and $380,000 respectively. The money was paid into accounts held by the three with Ocean Bank in Moscow and was withdrawn from A.T.M.s here and via Visa cards.
[Source: The Anglo Celt]

CLARE

Donnagh Gregson of the Bunratty Cookery School is the new chair of the Clare Tourism Forum, succeeding Barbara Faulkner in the role.

She says it is important to promote what the “Banner County” has to offer, adding that much work has been done on making The Gathering a success in Clare.

“I suppose that what we would be facing is that everyone is trying very hard to promote their county and we have to try and show that Clare is the county to come to above others. We are handling The Gathering quite well and I think we have the fifth-highest amount of events in the whole country, so we’re doing quite well on that.”
[Source: Clare Champion]

CORK

A Cork family faces a move to the U.K. in order to avail of a new wonder drug that will extend the life of their son, Pierce.

The Colemans from Blackrock say that they will have to emigrate if the government does not sanction use of the new lifesaving drug for cystic fibrosis (C.F.) sufferers.

They were devastated when the drug Kalydeco was recently rejected by the National Centre for Pharmaeconomics on the grounds that it was not cost-effective, but if there was a significant cut in price, that could change.

Seven-year-old Pierce suffers from C.F. and the new drug would greatly increase both the length of his life and standard-of-living.

The drug is available in the U.K. under the N.H.S. John and his wife, Linda, are angry that the drug may not be made available to their son.
[Source: Cork Independent]

DERRY

Advisers to Martin Luther King III – the son of the assassinated civil rights icon – plan to visit Derry next month, the Journal has learned.

The news follows a recent meeting in Washington, D.C. between Mr. King and Derry Presbyterian minister Dr. David Latimer.

The First Derry Minister has invited the American human rights activist to Derry for a major citywide peace-building event planned for May 19.
[Source: Derry Journal]

DONEGAL

Lightning struck a house near Laghey last Wednesday morning, setting a kitchen on fire.

A fierce storm hit the south of the county at around 6 a.m., with thunder, lightning and hail storms reported in most areas. Power went out in parts of Tullaghan, County Leitrim, just south of Bundoran.

A Garda (police) spokesperson said that lightning struck a house at Bridgetown, at approximately 6 a.m.
[Source: Donegal Democrat]

DOWN

Five prominent Hill Street traders were feeling triumphant on Friday, January 25, when their campaign to highlight their anger at being taken to court by the Planning Service prompted the intervention of Environment Minister Alex Attwood, who overturned the “ridiculous” action.

The Newry businessmen had been threatened with legal action by the Planning Service who issued the men with a summons to appear in court next month in connection with a “Welcome back to Hill Street” banner, which the traders had erected after the disruption caused by the Public Realm Scheme, which took place on Hill Street and Monaghan Street last year.

So incensed were the retailers by the action of the Planning Department that they took to Facebook to vent their anger. Declan McChesney, owner of Cahill Brothers shoes, who had been issued the summons along with Jack Murphy, Gerard Rice and Mick and David Downey, posted a plea on the social media site last Thursday urging local people to spread the word about what he described as a “mad” decision by planners.
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]

DUBLIN

A Dublin footballer is to stand trial accused of attacking another player during a club match last March.

Gaelic footballer Enda Ledwith (33), a Garda (police officer) who plays for north Dublin team Na Fianna, suffered a broken jaw during a home fixture against south-side rivals St. Jude's on March 31 of last year.

Brendan McManamon (30), who has represented Dublin and plays for St. Jude's G.A.A. Club, has been charged under Section Three of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act with assault causing harm to Enda Ledwith, a defender who has also played inter-county football for Longford.
[Source: Evening Herald]

FERMANAGH

After a local tragedy was averted, thanks to the use of a defibrillator that restarted a woman’s heart, the people of Derrygonnelly and the surrounding communities have sprung into action and are now the proud owners of five Zoll defibrillators to call upon “24/7” in the event of cardiac arrest.

The move was motivated after a woman collapsed on December 23 at a concert in the Derrygonnelly Community Centre. But, thanks to a defibrillator kept at the local G.A.A. club premises, her life was saved.

This inspired the chairman of Derrygonnelly Community Centre, Liam Jones, to look at acquiring a defibrillator for the village.
[Source: Fermanagh Herald]

GALWAY

Mystery surrounds the discovery of an 18th-century sword in a North Galway secondary school – and now an appeal has been made for information about the weapon.

The unusual discovery was made while clearing out a room in the old Colaiste Sheosaimh School in Glenamaddy. Nobody seems to know where it originated.

It was found in a drawer in the old vice-principal’s office, and could have been there for several decades.

Information is now being sought about where the sword came from and who might have given it to the school all those years ago.
[Source: Galway Bay FM]

KERRY

The principal of one of Kerry's biggest secondary schools, Coláiste na Sceilge in Cahersiveen, has rejected claims by an Israeli journalist of anti-Semitism and pro-Palestinian bias in the school.

Principal John O'Connor said students and teachers always acted on "humanitarian basis” and, far from indoctrination, the school instilled critical thinking.

In a column published in the English language daily, Jerusalem Post, on January 25th, journalist Sarah Honig tells of encountering anti-Semitic remarks and overwhelming bias towards Palestine during a school-backed fundraising event to help Palestinians buy olive trees, a Trócaire project, on the streets of Cahersiveen.

The claims are provoking strong reaction among readers in Israel and the U.S., including calls for a boycott of Ireland as a tourist destination. One letter writer to the newspaper, who grew up in New York, has called on Israelis to choose their holiday destinations more carefully.
[Source: Irish Times]

KILDARE

Road accidents and appalling weather conditions created havoc on some local roads on Sunday, January 27, with diversions in place as a result of the fatal collision on the Naas/Newbridge road, and a three-car pile-up on the M9 near Crookstown on Sunday afternoon.

The accident in the early hours of Sunday morning, which resulted in the death of Laois man Keith McMahon (27), is being investigated by the Garda (police) ombudsman as Mr. McMahon was being pursued by Gardaí when his car struck a lamppost.

The chase began in Laois after Mr. McMahon, from Crettyard, allegedly drove away from a petrol station without paying for fuel. He is understood to have had a number of previous convictions and was known to the Gardaí. He was taken to Naas Hospital but died shortly afterwards, while a passenger travelling with him was treated for minor injuries.
[Source: Kildare Nationalist]

KILKENNY

A customer who threw food around a restaurant before assaulting the owner of the premises was convicted of the offense at Kilkenny Court.

David Barry, 10 Steeple Court, New Building Lane, entered a plea to criminal damage but denied assault and being intoxicated at Uncle Sam’s, High Street on November 25.

The owner of the premises, Mario Gismandi, told the court that he was “working away” and it was almost closing time when two men and a woman entered the shop.

“They approached the counter and asked me for some food and I said ‘okay.’ They started messing from the counter. That was okay. They got the food and sat down and the two guys started arguing and throwing the food around. Myself and a member of staff said to stop messing and to clear out. The defendant started abusing me and throwing punches and I avoided every one. I threw him out and the defendant started smashing a window from outside. I went outside and he got really aggressive and was going crazy.”
[Source: Kilkenny People]

LAOIS

A heroin addict caught with $9,500 of the drug hidden in the petrol tank of his car has been put on probation, after Judge Tony Hunt was shown “gruesome” pictures of the man’s leg which has been damaged due to a medical condition.

Michael Tynan, from Waterford, was arrested at Portnahinch, Mountmellick, on February 12, 2009.

Garda (Police) Sgt. Michael Ryan, led by State prosecutor Mr. Will Fennelly, gave evidence that a mobile patrol discovered the defendant and three others sitting in a car parked in a laneway. A Garda search of the car revealed a small plastic pack of heroin hidden in the petrol cap. Sgt. Ryan said the quantity of the drug was 47 grams, with a street value of $9,500.
[Source: Leinster Express]

LEITRIM

A property developer, found in a very disheveled and malnourished state on a road near Ballinamore on Tuesday night, had a serious injury to his forehead.

The Leitrim Observer, which broke the story last Wednesday of the discovery of Kevin Michael McGeever, has since learned that he was dropped off from a van some time shortly before 10 p.m. on January 29.

Mr. McGeever went missing from Gort, County Galway in June 2012. He is originally a native of Co. Mayo and had been involved in a property development company dealing primarily with properties in Dubai, prior to his disappearance.

When discovered by a couple returning to the Ballinamore area on Tuesday evening, Mr. McGeever was wearing socks and had a plastic bag covering his clothes. He had no money on him but had a mobile phone and a torch in his possession.
[Source: Leitrim Observer]

LIMERICK

Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura may have become the world’s oldest man two weeks ago aged 115 years, but buried beneath County Limerick soil is a 219-year-old John Murphy.

The tombstone of the mystery man – who is surely a candidate for the Guinness Book of Records – has been discovered in the cemetery at St. John’s Church in Knockainey by a local historian.

Michael Quinlan was researching his new book on the church when he came upon the unusual inscription.

“When anybody sees it – they are quite amazed,” said Michael. “The fact is, it is written in stone. It is dating from 1784,” he explained of the gravestone.
[Source: Limerick Leader]

LONGFORD

Health and Safety investigators are trying to establish what may have caused a 40-foot high wall to collapse at a well-known D.I.Y. and garden center in Longford town last Tuesday, killing two men and injuring four others.

Sean Mulleady (47), from Drumlish, and Tarmonbarry father-of-two Pat Gaffney, who was in his 60s, lost their lives when an internal wall gave way, trapping them and four others.

Two of those left injured have since been discharged from hospital, with two more still being cared for at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore.
[Source: Longford Leader]

LOUTH

The town of Dundalk came to a standstill for the funeral of Detective Garda (Police Officer) Adrian Donohoe last Wednesday.

Uachtaráin na hÉireann (President of Ireland), Michael D. Higgins and his wife were invited by Very Rev. Michael Cusack to express the condolence and sympathy of the people of the nation at the end of the funeral.

Nearly 2,000 people filled the church and the adjoining monastery rooms for the requiem mass during which Fr. Cusack said, “This is a good time for serious reflection on the need for expanding, and not cutting back, on policing in our country.”
[Source: Dundalk Democrat]

MAYO

The Swinford and Midfield communities were plunged into sadness and grief two weekends ago with the death of young woman Tara Ryan in a road traffic accident on Friday afternoon, January 25. This was the third major tragedy to hit the Swinford region in the past four years. The death of Garda (Police Officer) Robert McCallion (29) in the course of duty in Letterkenny in May 2009 stunned the Swinford and wider community. Last year, Gary Price, a prominent and accomplished sportsman, died in a drowning accident in Laos at the age of 23.

Tara (21) resided with her family at Johnsfort, Swinford. The accident took place on the main N5 at Lislackagh between Swinford and Bohola. A lorry and a mini-bus were also involved in the collision, which took place at approximately 1 p.m.
[Source: The Mayo News]

MEATH

The notoriously reclusive Van Morrison has announced an intimate concert in Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, which will take place in April. It is one of his few Irish appearances to be confirmed outside of Northern Ireland and Britain this year, and takes the form of a concert with five-course meal and a champagne reception. Tickets are a princely $235 for the event on Sunday, April 7.

Late last year, Morrison, known as “Van the Man” released a new studio album with Blue Note – “Born to Sing,” his 35th studio album as a solo artist.

His last album for Blue Note was the Grammy nominated “What's Wrong with This Picture?” in 2003.
[Source: Meath Chronicle]

MONAGHAN

Leitrim, Laois, Kildare, Monaghan and Clare showed the biggest reduction in road deaths in the five years that saw the country set new safety records.

Cavan was the only county to record an increase in the level of fatalities from 2007 to 2012, according to the Road Safety Authority (R.S.A.).

Noel Brett, R.S.A. chief executive, said the success was down to everyone’s individual efforts.

“The reduction in road deaths in nearly every county in Ireland shows just what can be achieved when communities come together and say, ’enough is enough, we don’t want any more people dying on our roads’,” he said.
[Source: Irish Examiner]

OFFALY

While very unscientific and representing just a small sample of the large number of G.A.A. supporters in Offaly, the reaction to the proposed new Offaly jersey has been less than positive.

A trawl through social media shows a mixed reaction; however, the majority of comments have been less than complimentary.

Meanwhile, a poll running on the Offaly Express website shows a majority of respondents would prefer if Offaly adopted their changed white strip as their main kit. The kit is similar to that worn in 1982 by the Offaly footballers who stopped Kerry winning five-in-a-row. Again, the sample size to date is small, but at the time of writing, 67 percent preferred the changed kit, 21 percent wanted to stick with the current jersey, while only 13 percent wanted to adopt the new kit.
[Source: Offaly Express]

ROSCOMMON

A row has broken out in the parish of Creagh outside Ballinasloe over renovation works worth up to $1.35 million to Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

A newly-formed campaign group, Creagh Church Action Group, claims that the renovation works carried out to date at Our Lady of Lourdes Church have not only breached a number of planning stipulations, but have also caused “damage” to the church.

Concerned residents in the parish, which extends into South Roscommon, called for an immediate halt to the works when they held a meeting before Christmas, and have since registered a formal complaint with Galway County Council.
[Source: Roscommon Herald]

SLIGO

Fianna Fáil held a public meeting in Sligo last week on reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (C.A.P.) and the challenges facing the farming sector in the North West region.

The meeting, hosted by local Senator Marc MacSharry and the Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív, took place at 8 p.m. last Thursday, January 31, at the Glasshouse Hotel.

Representatives of all the major farming groups were in attendance.
[Source: Leitrim Observer]

TIPPERARY

Last Wednesday’s $14.4 million winning lottery ticket was bought in Thurles, County Tipperary

Excited speculation is filling the cathedral town as it’s emerged that the jackpot’s winning lotto ticket was bought in local newsagent Scanlan’s, in Liberty Square, Thurles Co. Tipperary. There was just one overall winner. National media and reporters from all over the country have descended on 61 Liberty Square, with passersby being quizzed as to who they think scooped the jackpot. Balloons are festooned around the shop in celebration.

Manager Vincent Scanlan said there was great excitement in the shop, but declined to speculate on who the lucky winner might be. “I’d be guessing it’s somebody local because 90 percent of my trade are local. But I cannot say it’s somebody local.”
[Source: Tipperary Star]

TYRONE

Congratulations to former student of Integrated College Dungannon (I.C.D.), Colin Morgan, winner of the "Best Drama Performance" Award at the National Television Awards.

Colin received the award for his role as "Merlin" in the hit B.B.C. television series and drew more votes than performances by Sherlock's Benedict Cumberatch, Doctor Who's Matt Smith and Daniel May, who played Ronnie Biggs in I.T.V.'s Mrs. Biggs.

Colin studied at Integrated College Dungannon from 1997 until 2002, winning the "Denis Rooney Associates Cup" for best overall student in Year 10.
[Source: Tyrone Courier]

WATERFORD

An 18-year-old female was rushed to Waterford Regional Hospital after she was stabbed in the abdomen during the early hours of Sunday morning, January 27.

Gardaí (police) in Waterford received a call at approximately 6:20 a.m. on Sunday morning to say there was a large row in Kenure Park, Powerscourt. On arrival, they found a female with a large stab wound to her abdomen. The wound is believed to have been almost 8 inches in length.
[Source: Waterford News & Star]

WESTMEATH

Two friends from Mullingar, Dara Coyne and Brendan Brady, are among the winners of the YouTube Next How-to Guru competition. The pair have been named as one of the top 15 “How to” channels on YouTube and were the only winning entrant from Ireland. They will now receive a private Google+ workshop series from industry experts and YouTube staff, $4,000 worth of production equipment and promotion on YouTube.

In December, YouTube launched the search for the best “How to” lessons on the web to try to find the most unique, talented D.I.Y. channels on YouTube. Dara and Brendan's channel “Your How to Do” was selected from the hundreds of entries as one of the best “How to” channels in the world.
[Source: Westmeath Examiner]

WEXFORD

Two men who denied charges of forging the will of an elderly man in 1998 have been found guilty of the offense by a jury at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court.

William O’Leary (49) from Arthurstown and businessman Noel Hayes (59) from Ramsgrange, had denied forging the will of bachelor farmer Matthew Hayes.

Mr. Hayes died in hospital aged 82 on December 25, 1998.
[Source: Wexford Echo]

WICKLOW

Gardaí (police) were investigating an incident in which three members of a family were taken from their home in County Wicklow and attacked last Wednesday.

A number of men entered a house at Fr. Redmond Park in Arklow at about 10 p.m. and took: two men – aged in their 50s and 20s – a woman in her 40s, and a car from the scene.

They were found a number of hours later at Ballymoney beach in Gorey, Co. Wexford.

The victims had been physically assaulted, and the car had been set on fire.
[Source: Kildare Nationalist]
 

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