More Belfast people are ditching the car to rely on their own two legs, new figures have revealed. The latest travel survey reveals that the number of people using a car or van to get to work has dropped from 67% in 2003-2005 to 59% in 2007-2009. That contrasts with a small increase in usage from workers in the East of Northern Ireland (up from 81% in 2003-2005 to 84%) and no real change in the West.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


Three more people have been arrested in connection with the murder more than two years ago of farmer Victor Stewart. The 45-year-old’s body was discovered at his home on the morning of October 22, 2008 at Creevekeeran Road in Middletown, Armagh. A 50-year-old woman and 22-year-old man were arrested last Thursday by detectives from the PSNI serious crime branch and remain in custody. A 21-year-old man was later arrested and is being questioned about assisting an offender and withholding information. A 23-year-old man was remanded in custody last month on Christmas Eve charged with Mr Stewart’s murder.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


Several businesses around the town were targeted in a series of Christmas burglaries. On Christmas Eve, the front door of Ho’s takeaway in Sandhills estate, Tullow Road was smashed before the till and its contents were taken. The incident occurred sometime between 12.30am and 5am. On Christmas Day, Revolution store on Tullow Street was hit between midnight and 9am the following morning. The front door of the shop was kicked in and, once again, the cash register was taken.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)


While the weather drove most of us indoors, an English angler kept the faith and fished the waters of his beloved Annalee river at Deredis, Butlersbridge, as he has been doing each Christmas for the last 30 years, writes Tom Carron. Michael Affleck from Greater Manchester sat patiently in sub zero temperatures in the days before Christmas, rod in hand and line cast well out into the choppy, ice filled expanse in front of him.
(Source: The Angle Celt)


A total of 43 Clare companies collapsed in 2010 accounting for more than 13% of all insolvencies in Munster. The highest month for insolvencies was September when seven companies were declared insolvent according to a new report. In August, just one company went to the wall according to the report by Nationally, more than 1,500 companies collapsed last year with the highest number of these being based in Dublin.
(Source: The Clare Champion)


Cork people may have experienced close encounters of the third kind last week, with eight reported sightings of UFOs in skies above the city. While there are no reports of aliens in the attic, body snatchers or extra terrestrials that come in peace, witnesses reported seeing yellow and orange lights in the Cork skies from New Year’s Eve to Sunday 2 January.
Source: (Cork Independent)


A judge has led tributes to a popular Londonderry solicitor who died last week following a long illness. Before the new sitting of Derry Crown Court last week a tribute was paid to Seamus Hegarty. The Recorder of Derry, Judge Piers Grant, and Judge Philip Babington were joined in court number one by local solicitors and Mr Hegarty's three sons for the tribute.  Judge Grant said he had been at university with Mr Hegarty and that he had borne his long illness with bravery and fortitude.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


A number of well known Donegal salmon fisheries will be re-opened in 2011 as native stocks begin to make a recovery, it has been announced. The Eske in Ballyshannon will re-open as a "harvest" river, while the Owenwee in Teelin, which is also part of the Ballyshannon fishery district, along with Bracky, Glenna, Tullaghobegley, Ray and Glenagannon in Letterkenny fishery district will re-opened as "catch and release" rivers.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)


A cocaine-snorting prison officer who saved his marriage by giving in to blackmail threats and smuggled “unauthorized packages” into Maghaberry jail faces the prospect of being jailed himself this week. Craigavon Crown Court heard that 46-year-old Darrall Scott, a father-of-two from Winona Lodge in Donaghcloney, Co Down, has since been forgiven by his wife for having a six-month affair with a prisoner's wife. Prosecutor Peter Sefton said another inmate discovered the affair and effectively “blackmailed” Scott, a former member of the Royal Navy, into smuggling three packages into the prison over a five-month period up to May 2009.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


The new garda (police) speed vans have finally been deployed across the streets of Dublin. The speed vans, which are run by the private company GoSafe, were rolled out in November on a phased basis, with areas outside Dublin covered initially. As of January, the vans are now in operation across the capital. The gardai (police) have hailed the new speed cameras as a success and believe they have contributed to a fall in road deaths.
(Source: The Evening Hearld)


A petrol bomb has been thrown at a house in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in an attack over the Christmas period. Scorch damage was discovered to the wall of the property on Corban Avenue in the Kilmacormick area shortly before 8am. Police say it is unclear at this stage whether the home was occupied during the attack.
(Source: UTV)


Nurses have demanded the Health Service Executive (HSE) reopens the 140 beds that are closed in Galway City’s two public hospitals, to help alleviate pressure from the Emergency Department, where up to 80 patients endured a night on a trolley in the past three days alone. An Irish Nurses Organization (INO) survey recently showed that 70 beds are closed in Merlin Park, including 34 medical ward beds, nine in the orthopedic day ward, as well as a further 27 general beds.
(Source: GalwayBay Fm)


The law giving same-sex couples the right to register their relationships came into force on new year’s day and the registrar’s office in Naas revealed that four couples had enquired about the procedure in recent weeks. Any couple wanting to tie the knot, however, will have to wait until April as the statutory three-months’ notice will have to be given, just as with civil marriage.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)


The number of Kerry-owned vehicles on the county’s roads has reached 86,998, according to the Irish Bulletin of Vehicle and Driver Statistics released by the Department of Transport. The bulk of these licensed vehicles, some 64,408, are in the privately owned category, with 3,215 licensed on the basis of their CO2 emission values. Since 1 July 2008, CO2 emission values were introduced as a basis for the assessment of motor tax in respect of all private cars.
(Source: The Kingdom)


Concern is mounting that fodder beet left in the ground during the recent cold spell could be rotting. Individual farmers have found that the crop has been damaged following the extremely cold Christmas night when temperatures in Kilkenny plummeted to -12 Centigrade. A large number of farmers could be affected. Fodder beet is used to feed animals during the winter because it is the highest yielding forage crop you can grow at this time of year.
(Source: Kilkenny People)


An investigation is underway into a drive by shooting in Portlaoise which has left a family traumatized and the residents of a quiet estate worried for their safety. The incident, which has led to armed gardai (police) manning checkpoints in the town, happened in the Highfield Meadows housing estate at 8pm on New Year's Eve when a car pulled up outside a house. Two shots were fired with a shotgun, miraculously nobody was hit but there were children in the house at the time.
(Source: Leinster Express)


With Leitrim County Council, local businesses and homeowners still counting the cost of December's 'Big Freeze', initial estimates are already predicting that the final bill could top €1.4m. With further snow and ice conditions predicted this month and into February, local councilors are calling for the Central Government to put in place funding to help smaller counties such as Leitrim to ensure basic service provision for residents.
(Source: Leitrim Observer)


A south hill man whose house was set ablaze in an arson attack on New Year's Day has vowed to stay on hunger strike until he can cook a meal in a kitchen of his own. John Keane has been sleeping in the back of his Ford Tranist van, parked in the car park of Roxboro Garda Station, since the house he bought seven years ago, was set alight in a malicious attack last Saturday. The homeowner, who had no house insurance, now faces joining the 3,500 names on City Council's housing list.
(Source: Limerick Leader)


Forget iPhones and celebrity perfumes, the hottest (literally) items on Longford shopping lists this Christmas were heaters, infra-red bulbs, and electric blankets. Stockists of electrical appliances throughout County Longford have reported a surge in sales during the cold spell. The arctic-like weather conditions that rendered homes without water and roads impassable, led Longford consumers to stock up on a variety of electrical goods. Hardware stores also reported a surge in sales of household items such as buckets and water containers
(Source: Longford Leader)


The HSE has warned that swine flu is with us again this winter and a number of cases have been reported. This flu virus mainly affects younger people and those with preexisting medical conditions. Women who are pregnant or have been in the last 6-8 weeks are also particularly at risk.  
(Source: Dundalk Democrat)


Closing time may be called on a number of rural pubs in Mayo in 2011 according to the Vintners Federation of Ireland after it was revealed that 44 pub licenses were lost in the county over the last three years. A national report on the licensing trade show that the number of pub licenses has fallen by 1,300 over the last five years with Mayo one of the worst affected counties. Over a three year period, 44 licenses were lost in Mayo with only Kerry, Galway and Cork losing more pub licenses.
(Source: The Mayo News)


One of Meath’s first babies of 2011 made a very dramatic entry into the world in the early hours of New Year’s Day when she was born in a jeep just off the M3 motorway as her parents were making their way to the Coombe Hospital. Little Isabella was born to Tara and Michael Gerbola of Ardbraccan, Navan, at around 2.45am in their jeep at the side of the road as her parents frantically tried to find their way to Connolly Hospital.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)


A group of friends involved in the horrific car crash in Co Monaghan that killed three people, including a pregnant woman, socialized and played pool just hours before the tragedy unfolded. Detectives investigating the cause of the crash are examining CCTV footage from Sark's Bar. Detailed statements have been taken from publicans and bar staff in Louth and the pub in Ardee. Gardai (police) have appealed for witnesses to the accident to contact Carrickmacross garda station

(Source: Irish Independent)


A national Radiology Survey has revealed that over 4,000 x-rays went unreported at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore between 2009 and 2010. 2,905 index fracture and orthopedic studies x-rays were unreported in 2009 and 1,129 in 2010. Dr Maurice Hayes was commissioned by the HSE to investigate the accumulation of unreported x-rays in Tallaght
(Source: Offaly Express)


Management at The Hodson Bay Hotel in South Roscommon has hit out at the “malicious rumors” that the hotel had gone into receivership and has given assurances that it will continue to operate long into the future. Speculation regarding the future of the hotel grew when the leisure centre closed down before Christmas, but Mr Hayes said that this was owing to the weather.
(Source: The Roscommon Champion)


A 19-year-old-man who suffered serious head injuries outside a nightclub in Sligo in the early hours of New Year’s Day, was said to be “improving” last week. The incident occurred around 2am on January 1 outside Pure nightclub on Teeling Street. It is understood that the injured man was struck by another man and fell to the ground. He was taken to Sligo General Hospital with a serious head injury and a short time later was transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
(Source: The Sligo Champion)


Nineteen arrests were made in Thurles over the Christmas break, making it a busy holiday season for Thurles Gardai (police). From the 26th of December to January 2nd, gardai arrested 19 people on Public Order Offences, said a spokesperson for Thurles Garda Station. The spokesperson said it's been a few years since this number of arrests were made in the town over a comparable period
(Source: Tipperary Star)


Ulster Unionist councilor and former MLA Derek Hussey appeared at Strabane Magistrates Court last week charged with drink-driving. The case was up for mention and adjourned until January 20, when a date for a hearing will be set. Mr Hussey was an Ulster Unionist Assemblyman up until 2007 when he lost his seat to the DUP’s Allan Bresland. The former teacher at Castlederg High School is active in the loyal orders and a number of clubs in the west Tyrone region.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


Cash hungry robbers caused terror in Waterford over the last week, with a spate of armed robberies occurring over a six-day period. Lone males wielding guns targeted a petrol station, a convenience store and a betting shop, threatening petrified staff into handing over cash. The latest incident occurred at the Amber Service Station on Paddy Browne’s Road the Sunday following New Year’s Day.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)


Almost one in five of the country’s confirmed child abuse cases in 2008 occurred in Longford/Westmeath. The shock finding is included in a new Department of Health report entitled ‘The State of the Nation’s Children - Ireland 2010’ published days before Christmas. The report found that there were 396 confirmed child abuse cases in Longford/Westmeath in 2008, the highest single amount from across the 32 HSE local health offices.
(Source: Westmeath Independent)


It’s one of the UK’s most elusive birds — and hasn’t been sighted in Ireland at all in 150 years. But Irish birdwatchers enjoyed a late Christmas present last week after three bitterns were spotted at Lake Tacumshane in Co Wexford. The bittern became extinct in the UK and Ireland in the 19th century. Only a handful have managed to re-colonise and breed in England — but they haven’t been seen on Irish shores for a century-and-a-half.
(Source: The Belfast Telegraph)


Gardai (police) in Co Wicklow are investigating a house fire in which a 60-year-old man died last Monday. The blaze happened at a property on Ballybeg Road in Rathnew. Emergency services were made aware of the fire at about 8pm. The fire is not being treated as suspicious. The man’s remains were removed to Loughlinstown Hospital in Dublin.
(Source: The Irish Times)