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News from Ireland - news from around the 32 counties

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ANTRIM

Motorsport fans could have been forgiven for thinking that hordes of excited teenage girls had been victim of a magic spell as they swarmed to the Ulster Rally at Junction One over two weekends ago.

However, no mystical forces were at work, just a celebrity face as Harry Potter star, Rupert Grint turned up for the two-day event to support his racing driver brother James.
[Source: Antrim Guardian]

ARMAGH

There was widespread disgust throughout the locality two weekends ago at an arson attack which took place at the newly opened Slieve Gullion Adventure Play Park.

Portable toilet facilities, which had been recently implemented for the convenience of patrons of the park and recreation area, were burnt beyond repair in the attack, which took place Friday night, August 17. A disabled toilet in the block was completely destroyed by the deliberate fire.

Sinn Féin MLA, Megan Fearon, who visited the burnt-out site, condemned those responsible for the mindless vandalism, and expressed concern that south Armagh’s newest and most popular tourist attraction should be blighted in such a way.
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]

CARLOW

There are imminent fears that residents of Carlow Town could find themselves wading through filth because the local authority cannot afford to keep cleaning the streets.

It is understood that Carlow Local Authority has been warned by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan that its budget will be cut by almost $1.3 million because of the low level of household charge payments in the county.

A source has told The Nationalist that street cleaning was stopped two weekends ago following the government’s threat to slash the council’s budget, but town engineer Brian O’Donovan has denied that plans are in place to stop street cleaning on Saturday and Sunday mornings on an ongoing basis.

“No specific decision has been made,” insisted Mr. O’Donovan.
[Source: Carlow Nationalist]

CAVAN

Cavan-based insulation maker Kingspan generated trading profits of $66.2m during the first half of the year – a 19 percent surge compared to the corresponding period in 2011.

The boost to profitability came even as rivals struggle in the market and some of the geographies in which Kingspan operates continue to remain difficult.

Revenue at the company rose three percent to $951.8 million, and was down one percent on a constant currency basis, while earnings per share jumped 28 percent to 27.6 cents.

Chief executive Gene Murtagh said the results had been achieved through a combination of organic growth and the successful integration of acquisitions.
[Source: Irish Independent]

CLARE

The mayor of Kilkee, Councilor Claire Haugh, has defended the town’s right to host a festival bearing the name of South American revolutionary Che Guevara. This year’s third annual festival will be held on the weekend of September 28.

The festival will be launched by Che Guevara’s daughter, Dr. Aleida Guevara, and Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, her Excellency Teresita Trujilio. It is expected that the Chilean Consul will also be in attendance.

Last year, U.S. representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged Galway City Council to reject the proposal to erect a monument honoring Che Guevara.
[Source: Clare Champion]

CORK

Genuine, sweet and never without a smile is how Rose of Tralee winner Nicola McEvoy was described after scooping the title last Tuesday night. Her sash may have read Luxembourg but she is still one of our own as Nicola grew up in Kerrypike.

Sinéad O'Donovan works with Nicola in Luxembourg and was in the Dome to see her big win, says no one was surprised when Nicola's name was called.

"We knew she would be very hard to beat so we weren't a bit surprised. She is such a lovely girl and she is so down to earth and takes everything in her stride so she was the ideal candidate. When she won the Luxembourg final she went through to the semi-final which was in Portlaoise and when she got through that we booked our tickets straight away for the final."
[Source: Cork Independent]

DERRY

The restoration of Derry’s Guildhall has been given a multi-million dollar cash boost.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster and Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland visited the Guildhall last Thursday to announce $5.6 million of financial assistance to support on-going restoration work.

The funding will be used to help transform the Guildhall from a functional civic building into a multi-faceted visitor experience to include a tourist information point, permanent and temporary exhibition spaces and a café area.
[Source: Derry Journal]

DONEGAL

Gardaí (police) in Donegal Town are appealing for information after a “substantial sum” was taken from a hotel on August 17.

Garda Inspector Denis Joyce told the Donegal Democrat that two men, not thought to be from the local area, called into The Central Hotel at around 8:30 a.m.

“One of the men told an employee at reception that his girlfriend had lost a ring in the ladies’ toilet,” said Inspector Joyce.

“When the employee accompanied the man to check for the ring, the other man went into the back office and took a substantial sum of money.”
[Source: Donegal Democrat]

DOWN

Work is underway to clear one of Bangor's largest derelict eyesores.

The vacated site of a former young offenders center in the County Down town was left untouched for years.

Known locally as Rathgael, the old juvenile justice center is finally being torn to the ground.

The 65-acre site has been blighted by problems – vandalism, anti-social behavior, thefts and dozens of deliberate fires.
[Source: BBC News]

DUBLIN

Gardaí (police) are probing whether Ireland's latest murder victim was stabbed to death because of a small drugs debt. Gerard Burnett (28) was stabbed in a frenzied knife attack outside his partner Denise Farrell Daly's home at Castlecurragh Vale in Mulhuddart, just before midnight last Tuesday.

Gardaí are hunting for a three-man gang who were involved in the shocking incident which led to Mr. Burnett being stabbed more than 10 times.
[Source: Evening Herald]

FERMANAGH

For one Enniskillen student who received his A-Level results on August 16, a different kind of challenge awaits.

Eighteen-year-old John Currie – a former St. Michael’s College pupil –headed to America last Wednesday, having received a scholarship to study at Wingate in North Carolina.

“I was reading up at the beginning of last year of a footballer who was released from Watford’s academy, and went on a scholarship to America,” said John.

“He described it as being the next best thing to being a professional footballer, and that just stuck with me. Training six days a week, travelling around America playing matches and the opportunities that it brings with it was just something I couldn’t turn down. To play football every day is all I have ever wanted to do, and this allows me to do so.”
[Source: Fermanagh Herald]

GALWAY

Turf-cutters returned to the scene of a June stand-off last Tuesday to reassert their right to work on a raised bog in Co. Galway where cutting has been deemed “illegal” under E.U. Habitats Directives since the start of this year.

Over 50 cutters and their supporters resumed work at Clonmoylan Bog, near Woodford, last Tuesday morning and cut enough fuel for five local families in open defiance of the SAC (Special Area of Conservation) designations.

They sourced machinery from another location after a digger belonging to a local machine operator had been burned out in mysterious circumstances during the stand-off in June – the burnt-out digger remains in place at Clonmoylan.
[Source: Galway Bay FM]

KERRY

Kerry are now poised to confirm Eamonn Fitzmaurice as their new senior football manager and, with that, promote Darragh Ó Sé as new under-21 football manager – both appointments to be merely rubber-stamped by the county board last Monday night.

Fitzmaurice has already been disclosed as the first-choice recommendation of the county management sub-committee, charged with finding a successor to Jack O’Connor – and the Kerry County Board has never gone against such a recommendation.
[Source: Irish Times]

KILDARE

A Newbridge family was hit by tragedy two weekends ago when an accidental fall in a local nightclub took the life of a father of three.

Derek Phelan of Roseberry, Newbridge, died after falling down some steps at Swift’s on Main Street in the early hours of August 19.

The 46-year-old man, who is a native of the area, was found by other customers at the bottom of the stairs at around 2 a.m. and he is believed to have died at the scene.

His remains were removed to Naas General Hospital where a postmortem examination was carried out last Monday to determine the exact cause of death.
[Source: Kildare Nationalist]

KILKENNY

The Irish roots of U.S. vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan have been traced to County Kilkenny, and in fact some of his relations have already visited the county to see their ancestral homeland.

With the revelations in Irish media two weekends ago that the great-great-grandparents of Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate lived near Graignamanagh and were married in the parish, it has also emerged that Mr. Ryan’s uncle paid a visit to the parish back in 2010.

Bill Ryan and his wife visited the county at the time and were received informally by then-mayor Martin Brett. They also visited Rothe House and the Graignamanagh area.
[Source: Kilkenny People]

LAOIS

Laois County Council has banned gaming machines in a Portlaoise retail/industrial unit development that was recently approved for conditional planning permission.

And should the development near Portlaoise hospital proceed, contribution fees amounting to $24,062 will have to be paid.

Michael Hanley applied on December 21, 2011 for permission to construct three new retail warehousing units and one light industrial unit, and to extend car parking area and all associated works at Ballyroan, Dublin Road, Laois.

Further information was requested from the Planning Department resulting in the proposed development being changed to two new ground-floor retail warehousing units of 92 and 84 square meters as opposed to three.
[Source: Leinster Express]

LEITRIM

Bank of America has confirmed plans to cut 15 jobs at its Carrick-on-Shannon office over the next month.

In a statement issued to the Leitrim Observer last week, a spokesperson for the bank said that “following a detailed review of our operations in Carrick, Ireland, we have announced that we are planning a reduction of around 15 full time equivalent positions in the contact centre and call optimisation divisions servicing our U.K. consumer credit card business and we will be in consultation with the employees in scope over the next 30 days.”

The move comes just five months after Apollo Global Management announced it was officially beginning the process of acquiring the Irish loan book of Bank of America/MBNA. The loan books service some 200,000 customers in Ireland with a debt of around $817m.
[Source: Leitrim Observer]

LIMERICK

A young man has been arrested in connection with a “tiger kidnapping” on the outskirts of Limerick city two weekends ago.

The 19-year-old was arrested at an address in the city Thursday morning and he is being questioned at Henry Street Garda (police) station under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act.

He is the second person to be arrested in connection with the alleged abduction of Stephen Cusack from a house in the Castletroy area on August 19. Stephen’s family own a post office.
[Source: Limerick Leader]

LONGFORD

Community groups likely to be affected by the refusal of over 5,000 Longford homeowners to pay the government’s controversial household charge have warned of the potentially devastating repercussions that funding cuts could have on their day-to-day activities going forward.

Some voluntary organizations like Abbeylara’s Active Retirement Group are nervously awaiting the outcome of cuts to local government spending.

Breda Small, the group’s secretary, said changes to its normal allocation of grant aid would almost inevitably impact on what future activities it could offer locals.

“We have 25 active members so yes it would affect things,” she said bluntly. “To be honest we would be lost without it (council assistance).”
[Source: Longford Leader]

LOUTH

Ben McLaughlin finally put pen to paper on a three-year contract with English Premiership club Everton August 17.

The 17-year-old travelled to Liverpool with his parents to pen the deal and after returning to Dundalk two weekends ago, he started his new career as an Evertonian last week.

Dundalk FC Head of Youth Development Martin Connolly said that the Lilywhites were delighted with the terms of the deal.

“The club are very happy with the way it was dealt with. Everton showed their professionalism in the way they conducted themselves. They have been looking at Ben for a while. Their Chief Scout in Ireland, Paul Hamill, has known about Ben since he was a kid but it is completely different watching somebody as a kid and from watching them in the first-team. When Ben came in to the first-team they really showed interest. There were other clubs looking but Everton followed it through.
[Source: Dundalk Democrat]

MAYO

Irish Rail has apologized to customers who have witnessed anti-social behaviour on the Westport-to-Dublin train and say it is taking steps to curb such behaviour in the future.

The apology came as a result of representations by annoyed and upset customers to Mayo TD John O’Mahony. Mr. O’Mahony wrote to Irish Rail outlining his constituents concerns and in a reply, Richard Fearn, chief executive of Irish Rail, expressed disappointment to hear of anti-social behaviour on the train.

Mr. Fearn said that the company is taking steps to curb such behavior on its trains, including the deployment of security personnel at main stations and training staff to deal with anti-social incidents.
[Source: The Mayo News]

MEATH

Cardiac patients, diabetics and cancer sufferers across Meath will be among those most severely impacted by proposed cuts in agency staff in the Louth-Meath Hospital Group, according to an internal HSE document.

The HSE memo, seen by the Meath Chronicle, has identified 36 separate areas where cuts would result in the highest possible level of danger to patients.

Health campaigners have warned the cuts will have appalling consequences for Meath patients with services dramatically reduced at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan and crucial services curtailed in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
[Source: Meath Chronicle]

MONAGHAN

President Michael D. Higgins opened the $4.6 million European-funded Castle Saunderson International Scouting Centre in Cavan two weekends ago.

The president was joined by dignitaries from both sides of the border, including Northern Ireland Executive Ministers Jonathan Bell, Nelson McCausland and Jennifer McCann and Minister of State in the Republic Fergus O’Dowd.

Located in Castle Saunderson Demesne, near Belturbet, and bordering counties Fermanagh and Monaghan, the new scouting facility has entrances from the North and the South.
[Source: Irish Times]

OFFALY

There are 386 vacant commercial units or premises in Offaly, according to figures released by GeoDirectory.

The figures represent an average vacancy rate for commercial units in the county of 11 percent, and are accurate as of June 2012.

The highest number of vacancies recorded in towns in Offaly was Tullamore with a vacancy rate of 11 percent or 156 units, followed by Birr where 113 vacant commercial units were identified – a rate of 11 percent.
[Source: Offaly Express]

ROSCOMMON

“A model student" and an "excellent footballer” are just some of the phrases that have been used to describe Boyle teenager Eoin Lavin who died following a car collision on August 19.
 
The 17-year-old former Abbey College student died in the early hours of Sunday morning when the car in which he was a passenger left the road and ended up partially submerged in a water-filled ditch.

The crash occurred at Carrowreagh on the Frenchpark to Boyle road at approximately 1 a.m. when the car collided with a ditch. Mr. Lavin was pronounced dead at the scene.
[Source: Roscommon Herald]

SLIGO

IT Sligo student Lydia Concannon is about to embark on the opportunity of a lifetime after being selected to take up the first annual Yeats Design Residency at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

It is part of a new innovative partnership between the national theatre and IT Sligo, bringing together two of W.B. Yeats's greatest passions – the Abbey Theatre and Sligo.

Lydia (22), who has just completed the four-year honors BA Performing Arts program at the IT Sligo, is set to begin the six-month residency in a couple of weeks. The course allows for specialism in theatre design or acting.
[Source: Irish Independent]

TIPPERARY

New figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), show that there has been nearly an 85 percent drop in crime around Thurles, though the Premier County is the third worst in Munster for the number of burglaries committed.

The figures show a dramatic decrease in reported crime in the Tipperary Garda (police) Division since 2007, according to the CSO. Since the recession began, there has been an average fall of 43 percent in reported crime across the county. The steepest fall in reported crimes was in the Thurles district, which saw a decrease of 84.9 percent over that period.
[Source: Tipperary Star]

TYRONE

Work has begun on the provision of Cookstown's first "Puffin" crossing . . . after safety fears for pedestrians in the area were first highlighted in the Courier.

A new Pedestrian User Friendly Intelligent (PUFFIN) crossing is currently being installed at Church Street, Cookstown by Roads Service's traffic management section.

The completed crossing – the first of this particular type in the Cookstown district – will provide a safer crossing facility for all pedestrians crossing at this busy location, particularly vulnerable road users (i.e. schoolchildren, the elderly and people with a disability).
[Source: Tyrone Courier]

WATERFORD

Face-to-face assistance for customers with queries about matters such as account balances and other day-to-day issues is set to disappear from Bank of Ireland at the Quay, in the city.

The “new way of banking” has already been introduced in Kilkenny, Wexford, Dundrum and in a small number of other areas as part of what the bank says is designed so that its customers will spend less time banking and more time enjoying life.

No specific date has yet been given for the closure but customers are being warned of the change through a leafleting campaign currently underway in the bank.
[Source: Waterford News & Star]

WESTMEATH

Two Athlone brothers are currently serving 11 years in a hellhole South American jail – despite one still proclaiming his innocence.

Dermot (20) and Leigh O'Neill (24), from Athlone, were sentenced two weeks ago for drugs offenses.

One of their brothers last week explained how the pair was handed 11-year terms in one of the most dangerous jails in the world.

Conditions at San Juan de Los Morros jail in Venezuelan capital Caracas are regularly criticized in reports by human rights groups.

Gangs routinely bribe guards to smuggle in arms, with a video posted online by a former inmate even showing members firing automatic weapons into the air.
[Source: Westmeath Independent]

WEXFORD

Gardaí (police) searching for the missing 18-year-old James Sheehan has recovered a body from the Avoca River, Arklow last Thursday evening.

The body has not been identified and Gardaí wish to thank Boyne Fishermen River Rescue who located the remains as well as the help of the Garda Water Unit, Civil Defense and local volunteers.

The 18-year-old from Arklow hasn't been seen in person since he left a nightclub in the town in the early hours of August 19. It was not known at time of print if the body found was the missing man.
[Source: Wexford Echo]

WICKLOW

A Co. Wicklow language school was struck off a register of recognized language colleges because of extreme concern about safety and other matters, the High Court has been told.

Barrister Mark O’Mahony, counsel for the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) said Jacqueline Sababou’s Language and Business College in Bray had two weeks ago been granted an interim injunction restraining her school being struck off.

He told Mr. Justice Kevin Feeney that the injunction was of no effect because Ms. Sababou’s college had already been struck off before she obtained the injunction.

Mr. O’Mahony said there were two buildings in Quinsboro Road, Bray, in which Ms. Sababou operated her school and both had fire escapes, but one of them could not be opened.
[Source: Irish Independent]
 

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