Plans for Belfast to host MTV's European Music Awards (EMAs) have been hailed as a major boost for the city. Northern Ireland political leaders welcomed the announcement as further proof that the once troubled location had entered a new era. Belfast's Odyssey Arena, which regularly plays host to international stars, will now be the platform for the major awards ceremony scheduled for early November. The 2011 MTV EMAs will be broadcast live from the venue and will feature A-listers who will perform to a global audience stretching across 160 countries.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


A major regeneration project has been unveiled last Wednesday with news of a £3m town centre public realm scheme in Lurgan. The NI Social Development Minister Alex Attwood said that the project created a high quality, modern urban environment in the heart of the Co Armagh town centre.  He said the public realm improvement work includes new user friendly pedestrian environment; new street furniture and improved ornate lighting; town centre landscaping and planting of lime trees and new stone paving with extensive lifespan.


Swans and ducks in Bagenalstown are being attacked by a gang of youths using stones and catapults, a local woman has told The Nationalist. The woman, who did not wish to be named, said she witnessed a gang of eight or nine teenagers throwing stones at the birds as she made her way home from work on Monday (21 February). “There was quite a group of them, about eight or nine. They were all boys and all over 16 years of age anyway. It’s absolutely disgusting. Some of them were throwing stones and some of them had catapults.”
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)


Bailieboro man and his family have survived the 6.3 scale earthquake that almost destroyed the city of Christchurch in New Zealand recently and claimed the life of 41-year-old Owen McKenna from Emyvale, County Monaghan. Martin Kirk, his wife Jackie and their 12-year-old daughter Chloe have been living in Halswell, a suburb of Christchurch, since February 2007. The Kirks only suffered minor damage with a few burst water pipes around the house. Thankfully, they managed to escape what appears to be the worst NZ natural disaster in living memory.
(Source: The Angle Celt)


As emigration continues to hit GAA clubs across Ireland, two Clare clubs have been forced to withdraw teams from this season’s hurling competitions. Both Wolfe Tones and Clooney-Quin have withdrawn from the intermediate hurling grade, citing emigration as the main reason for their drop in numbers.
Last year, Wolfe Tones had three adult hurling teams competing at senior, intermediate and junior grades.
(Source: The Clare Champion)


The way has been cleared for Neil Prendeville’s return to Cork’s 96FM but it is not certain if and how this will happen. What is certain is the broadcaster will not face a criminal prosecution for an alleged lewd act on board an Aer Lingus flight last October. Having interviewed a number of people, including an Irish Examiner journalist, who are alleged to have witnessed the incident, Gardaí (police) forwarded a file to the DPP.
Source: (Cork Independent)


Shots have been fired at police officers by suspected dissident republicans in Londonderry. Police responded to a report that a car had been abandoned in a grassy area off the Glen Road last Wednesday night. After arranging for the stolen car to be recovered, the officers were shot at as they returned to their vehicle. No one was injured. Superintendent Chris Yates said: "I have no doubt this was an attempt to kill a police officer. We are very fortunate that no-one was injured."
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


A group of callous thieves have been targeting unoccupied single dwellings throughout the county in recent days. The majority appear to be taking place between 6pm and 11pm in the evenings. In one 24-hour period, eighteen house burglaries alone were reported in the Donegal Garda (police) Division. They are said to have taken place between 6am on Saturday and 6am on Sunday morning last, February 28.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)


Co Down band Two Door Cinema Club are the winners of this year’s Choice Music Prize. The three-piece band received their award (a check for €10,000 ) at a live event at Dublin’s Vicar Street venue last Thursday night. It was a surprise victory in that Dublin act Villagers were the runaway bookies favorite. The Choice Music Prize is regarded as the Irish album of the year award except that it rewards artistic merit as opposed to the amount of record sales or radio airplay garnered.
(Source: Irish Times)


Dublin’s historic city centre has been allowed to degenerate with "garish" shopfronts dominating streets, it is claimed. Dublin City Council is being asked to respond to criticism of its policy with Westmoreland Street, Dame Street and the South Quays said to be the worst hit in a report by An Taisce. Labour's Dermot Lacey raised the issue at a meeting of the council's economic and planning strategic policy committee (SPC) this week.
(Source: The Evening Hearld)


Reports of UFO activity over Northern Ireland have been unearthed in secret papers from the Ministry of Defense. Two suspected UFOs have been spotted hovering over the province during the past decade, according to the dossier. A ball of white light and a mystery aircraft in Co Fermanagh were both investigated. The information, held by the National Archives in London, was made public as part of the biggest ever release of Government UFO documents. Thirty-five files detailing unexplained phenomena between 2000 and 2005 have been made available online.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


A Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) investigation has found that one of its lecturers has a case to answer in relation to assisting a student to cheat in a final year exam, the Galway City Tribune can reveal. GMIT’s Governing Body has been informed that “there was a prima facie case in respect of misconduct to be answered” in regard to how a Masters student in the School of Business and Engineering used a lecturer’s handbook, which contained suggested answers, to cheat in an assessment.
(Source: Galway Tribune)


A deportation order for a west-African national was signed last Tuesday -- the day he jumped from a cliff into the sea. Stephen Godsun Ukiwo (33) took his own life at Ballybunion, Co Kerry, after the body of his Polish partner Katarzyna Bartowiak (25) had been found at the rented home they shared in Deerpark Estate, Tralee, Co Kerry. It is thought that Ms Bartowiak, who was known as Kasia, had been strangled. The couple's two-year-old son Sean was in the house at the time.
(Source: Irish Independent)


Unhappy Naas traders are asking shoppers to sign a petition calling for Kildare Co Council to bring about a number of changes in the town. A small group of traders have been present outside the Town Hall since last week, asking people to sign their petition, which calls for a change to parking in the town and a reduction in rates, amongst other points. One of the participants, Ann Domican of Fleming’s Florist explained: “We set up the Naas Traders Association about 12 months ago. We were looking for parking improvements, a reduction in rates and the relocation of the taxi rank.”
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)


Unscrupulous house holders have taken to dumping their rubbish under the cover of darkness in the hedgerows of rural county Kilkenny. According to the Environment Section of Kilkenny County Council the problem gets much worse during the winter period as the dumpers operate under the cover of darkness. A waste disposal contractor for Kilkenny County Council told the Kilkenny People that the problem had gotten much worse in recent months with the volume of the rubbish being dumped increasing dramatically.
(Source: Kilkenny People)


Laois has the highest level of vacant housing stock in Ireland, according to a new report from the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). Laois has a four year supply of new and completed housing units, compared to 12 to 18 months in Offaly or just six months in Kildare. There are currently 636 housing units completed and vacant in Laois, 309 weathered houses, and a further 506 houses under construction. At the end of 2009, there was a total of 32,469 houses throughout the county
(Source: Leinster Express)


Rents in Co Leitrim fell a further 7% in the last quarter of 2010. Leitrim has the cheapest rents in the country with an average w467 a month. The drop of 7.1% in the last quarter of 2010 was the biggest fall in rents across the island. The report by indicated that the cost of renting in Ireland appears to be leveling out. Rents fell by just over half a per cent last year compared to a 15% drop in 2009 and 10% 2008.
(Source: Leitrim Observer)


Across the water in the Big Apple, RTE presenter Emma O’Driscoll said ‘I do’ to selector with the Ardscoil Ris Harty Cup team, Liam Cronin from Cappamore. Popular Limerick presenter Emma O’Driscoll is still on cloud nine after her boyfriend of six-years, Liam Cronin popped the question in Times Square, New York last week. The breakaway was a Christmas present for the ‘Hubble’ presenter, but little did she know that the bright lights of the Big Apple were going to bring such delight
(Source: Limerick Leader)


After driving his tractor to Ballinalee to collect his pension, 93-year-old Matt O’Hara then got a lift to Clontumpher NS to vote in his 25th general election recently “I voted for Bannon,” he candidly told the Leader. “You need a change. I’d be glad if they (Fine Gael) got an overall majority.” A life-long supporter of Fine Gael, Mr O’Hara said emigration and the lack of jobs had left large swathes of his local area and native Kiltyclough townland in desperate need of fresh ideas and direction.
(Source: Longford Leader)


A Dundalk man has been jailed for three years and nine months at the Special Criminal Court for IRA membership. Barry O’Brien, aged 38, from Mountain Court, Dundalk, was convicted in December last year of membership of an illegal organization styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on April 6, 2004.
(Source: Dundalk Democrat)


Nearly €6,000 in fines, legal and clean-up costs were issued at last week’s sitting of Ballinrobe District Court after a number of people appeared before the court charged with illegal dumping.
The dumping occurred in Ballinrobe and Tourmakeady with three members of the one family convicted of illegal dumping. The court heard that it cost over €20,000 to clean up one of the illegal dumps with all of the defendants prosecuted after enforcement officers found documentary evidence belonging to the defendants.
(Source: The Mayo News)


Navan Town Council is to invite representatives of the Navan Retailers’ Association, Chamber of Commerce and local traders to come together to discuss a retail strategy for the town. Navan Town Council set aside a fund of €70,000 in its budget this year to be spent on business innovation in the town to compensate for the mandatory rates increase following the town’s boundary extension.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)


Zurich Bank is entitled to recover €32 million against a shopkeeper over unpaid loans made in 2007 to develop a shopping centre in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, the Commercial Court has ruled.The centre is now valued at between €1 and €2 million and all concerned should have known from late 2006 this was “not a project free of risk”, Mr Justice George Birmingham said.
(Source: Irish Times)


The number of people on the dole fell slightly last month, official figures have revealed. A total of 436,956 people signed on for benefits in February, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 13.5%. The Central Statistics Office reported that there had been a fall of 1,622 in the Live Register last month and 7,343 in the year to the end of February. Some 82% of those now signing on are Irish and, of the rest, 18,065 are from the UK.
(Source: Offaly Express)


Roscommon County Hospital has been allocated a budget of just over €19 million this year, representing a reduction of seven percent or €1.5 million on last year’s budget. The HSE West confirmed the reduced budget allocations for all hospitals in the region this year when it presented details of its service plan for 2011 at the Regional Health Forum meeting last week.
(Source: The Roscommon Herald)


The Tubbercurry river is one of the 20 most polluted rivers in the country and the town’s overstretched sewage treatment plant is to blame. And while plans for an upgrade of the plant are in place Sligo County Council say they are awaiting approval and funding from the Department of the Environment. The Tubbercurry river is listed among 20 “seriously polluted” rivers in the country in a new national report on water quality from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

(Source: The Sligo Weekender)

The prospect of a second major mining project bonanza just outside Thurles is currently being explored with high hopes of a Lisheen type lead and zinc discovery close to Littleton. Connemara Mining, the Irish AIM listed zinc explorer, has announced that drilling has begun on their three licence Thurles block near the Lisheen zinc mine. The initial programme will consist of three 300 metre holes.
(Source: Tipperary Star)


A mother and her three-year-old son have escaped injury in a shooting in County Tyrone. Two shots were fired at the back of a house in the Ballycolman area of Strabane at about 1915 GMT on Saturday February 27. The 22-year-old woman and her child were in the kitchen at the time and the shots hit the door. Two men were seen running away from the house. A man, who is 35 years old and a 25-year-old woman were also in the house. They were not hurt.
(Source: BBC News Northern Ireland)


A Waterford man who was held up twice at gun-point as he affected his escape from Libya has spoken of his overwhelming guilt at leaving work colleagues behind as rebels increased their hold on Muammar al-Gaddafi’s ailing regime. Speaking to the Waterford News & Star last Friday last only hours after arriving home in the aftermath of a terrifying ordeal, he told how a gun had been put to his head while the car he was travelling in had been stopped and searched on the road to the airport in Tripoli.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)


Westmeath and Roscommon County Councils and Athlone Town Council will now have to make monthly and quarterly reports to the IMF, European Commission and the ECB, as part of the last Government's bank bailout deal, it has emerged. The councils will have to submit two types of reports, firstly to the Department of Finance, which will then be sent on to EU/IMF headquarters.
(Source: Westmeath Independent)


Two receivers are this week-end selling off apartments at very low prices. In Courtown, Co Wexford, the smallest one- bedroom apartments in the Ocean Point development (pictured left) have had prices cut to €59,950. In Mullingar, Co Westmeath, prices for at the Tailteann Court project (pictured right) start at €69,950 for a one-bedroom unit.
(Source: The Irish Independent)


A TV show which focuses on warring neighbors has been overloaded with calls from Co Wicklow residents. Mediators is a 10-episode Sky documentary series that will follow local community mediators as they help to resolve a variety of quarrels -- from unbearable noise to damage to property. Two episodes of the Sky One reality programme are being filmed in Ireland, and so far, residents of the garden county have provided the vast majority of complaints against 'neighbors from hell'.