The £370m public spending cuts planned by Stormont for next year will “pale into insignificance” compared to what's coming next, a senior economist has warned. And the looming reductions could even add up to a further £1bn over just three years. The stark assessment came from Victor Hewitt, director of the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland, a Government body that advises the Executive and Assembly. The plans for £370m worth of cuts in 2010/11 were revealed last week in a leaked memo prepared by Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.

(Source: The Belfast Telegraph)         


History was made in the south Armagh village of Camlough last week when the Guinness World Record  for longest continuous open water relay swim was smashed by a team of intrepid swimmers from across the country. The swimmers not only broke the previous record of 480km but by Saturday last - when the challenge officially ended after 232 hours, 52 minutes and 30 seconds - had added a massive 205.5km to set a new world record distance of 685.5km.

(Source: The Examiner)


Carlow woman has called on the minister for education Batt O’Keeffe to withdraw or clarify his description of women who were sent to work in Magdalene Laundries as ‘employees’. Maureen Sullivan, who was sent to work in a Magdalene laundry at just eleven years of age, says she finds the comment by minister O’Keeffe’s “insulting” and is calling on him to provide proof that the young girls, who were forced to work in what she describes as “hell holes”, were employees. “The minister is a liar. I can’t understand how a child of 12 years of age could be employed to work in a Magdalene laundry. First of all, we got no money for working in these places and, secondly, where is the proof of pay?” fumed Maureen.

(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)


The Cavan Vocational Education Committee (VEC) is disappointed with its allocation of VTOS places for the current academic year. The CEO of the VEC, Colm McEvoy, revealed at a meeting of the VEC in Cavan Institute last Friday, that Cavan's allocation of places is the lowest in the country at just 40 places. "I appealed that allocation and we did not get anywhere. I wish to inform you that our allocation of 40, together with the allocation to two other VECs, is the lowest in the country," Mr. McEvoy told committee members.

 (Source: The Anglo Celt)


Clare County Council faces a potential €500,000 fine for allowing water untreated for the parasite, cryptosporidium, into the Ennis public water system over a five-month period last year. At Ennis District Court last Thursday, Judge Joseph Mangan directed that the case being taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be dealt with by a higher court. He was told that the council would be pleading guilty in the case. The maximum fine allowed in the District Court is €5,000. However, following Judge Mangan’s ruling, the case will be now heard in the Circuit Court where the maximum fine allowed for the offence is €500,000.

(Source: The Irish Times)


The economic downturn has force the closure of a Mallow travel agency that has been in busines for 20 years, making six staff unemployed. The family run Joe O'Reilly Travel Group which has operated in Mallow since 1985 close down this week, amid assurances that all holidays already booked can go ahead as planned and all staff will receive their full redundancy entitlements. Some bookings made by customers have now been transferred to Mallow Travel. Sisters Sandra and Noelle O'Reilly have been running the travel group since their father, Joe, passed away two years ago.

(Source: The Corkman)


A new inquest is to be opened into the death of a 15 year-old boy shot by the British Army in Derry's Creggan Estate in July 1972. An investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has found that the RUC investigation at the time was "hopelessly inadequate and dreadful". Daniel Hegarty was shot dead during Operation Motorman - the army operation to retake "no-go" areas in the Bogside, Brandywell and Creggan. Last week, the teenager's family welcomed the move and said it was an opportunity to clear his name "once and for all."

(Source: The Derry Journal)



Gardaí (police) are warning pensioners against so-called confidence crimes after con men using a wheel chair robbed a Donegal pensioner. The warning comes after two such thefts in east Donegal in recent weeks where fraudsters pretending to have disabilities called at the homes of pensioners before distracting them and then stealing cash. The incidents took place in Castlefin and Raphoe. A man using a wheel chair was involved in one incident and in the other incident a man pretended to be disabled, gardaí have said.

(Source: Donegal Democrat)


A house for sale in Newtownhamilton was daubed with an intimidating warning to potential buyers last week. The wording ‘no sale, PSNI owned’ was scrawled in large black paint on the gable of the two-storey house on The Commons. The graffiti appeared on the building overnight and police are investigating. Belfast estate agent Morton Pinpoint is handling the sale of the property and has informed the householder, who is believed to be a man from the Keady area. “We were made aware of the graffiti by police in Bessbrook,” a representative from Morton Pinpoint confirmed. The gravel-fronted house has been on the market for some time and a sale has recently been agreed, according to the estate agent. Commenting on the appearance of the graffiti, Sinn Fein councilor for the Fews area, Jimmy McCreesh, said: “I feel that people have the right to sell or buy property without fear or intimidation.”

(Source: The Down Democrat)



He promised not to let the occasion get too emotional. But newlywed Eamon Dunphy finally welled up at his wedding reception last week when he made a speech about his new wife Jane. The outspoken broadcaster came close to tears as he paid tribute to his partner of 18 years in front of guests during his wedding speech at Patrick Guilbald's restaurant last week. Eamon had revealed that he was suffering from nerves all day, but had managed not to let his emotions get the better of him at the ceremony in the Unitarian church on St Stephen's Green. It was not until he took to the mic in front of assembled family and friends that he lost his composure, describing Jane as "the light of my life".

(Source: The Evening Herald)


A cross-border operation between Police and Garda continued last week following an armed robbery at the Bank of Ireland in Belleek, on Monday last. The three-man gang, two of whom was armed and masked, got away with a five - figure sum of cash. It is believed that one man had been taken into custody in Donegal in connection with the incident.

(Source: The Fermanagh Herald)


Galway based comedian Tommy Tiernan has hit out at claims he is anti-Semitic after excerpts from his show at the Electric Picnic were published last week. While taking part in a question-and-answer discussion in the Hot Press chat room at the Stradbally festival, Tiernan lambasted Jews for their role in the death of Christ, joking, "I would have got 10 or 12 million out of that" when referring to the Holocaust. However, in a statement release on his website, Tiernan said it was not his intention to cause hurt, saying his comments were taken completely out of context.

(Source: Galway Independent)


A complete review of all safety features on Skellig Michael will be carried out after a second American tourist fell to her death from the precarious ledge leading to the summit of the world famous heritage site the weekend before last. Fifty seven-year-old mother of two Christine Danielson Spooner from Rochester New York, who was holidaying in Kerry with her husband, died after she plunged 30 feet from the ledge near the top of Skellig Michael. Mrs. Danielson Spooner suffered serious head injuries when she fell from the ledge. Boatman   Kenneth Roddy of Joe Roddy and Sons, a company that has provided transport to and from the island for over 40 years, was highly critical of the OPW's failure to install greater safety measures on the island. Mr. Roddy believes a simple railing would have been sufficient to prevent the tragedy. "Calls have been made over the years before and after the first incident for a simple, short guardrail to be installed along this ledge, which is just a few short meters in length," he said.

(Source: The Kerryman)


The people of Athy took to the streets last Saturday to protest against the planned closure of a ward in St Vincent’s Hospital. The protest march against the closure of St Camillus’s 26-bed ward was organized by the Labor Party in Athy and has received the backing of all the political parties. It will start from Emily Square at 2pm and the marchers will make their way through the town to the hospital. The Cathaoirleach of Athy Town Council Clr Aoife Breslin, along with her fellow Labor councilors Mark Wall, James Mahon and Thomas Redmond, tabled a motion at the September meeting of the council calling on the HSE to reverse the decision to close the 26-bed ward. Cllr Mary O’Sullivan also tabled a motion expressing disappointment at the ward closure in Athy, as well as a ward closure in Naas General Hospital.

(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)


Kilkenny's streets are now home to more than double the number of heroin users as they were 12 months ago. New statistics from the Health Service Executive show that the number of people injecting heroin in Kilkenny has almost doubled in the past 12 months. The HSE's Drug Misuse report for 2008 shows that the percentage of drug users injecting had risen from 4.8% to 7.6% by the end of 2008. The report relates only to drug users who have received treatment for drug or alcohol abuse in Ireland. In 2007, 15 people who were treated had been injecting heroin. Last year, this number spiked to 29.

(Source: The Kilkenny People)



A training program aimed at helping the unemployed is to be set up in Portarlington by Laois VEC which has had to cut training in Abbeyleix. VEC CEO, Anne O'Keefe confirmed that 20 Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) training places would be provided in the Portarlington Adult Education Centre (PAEC) this year. VTOS scheme provides of a range of education and training courses aimed at people out of work. "As Portarlington is the second largest town in the county and has in excess of 2,500 people on the live register, a decision was taken to provide a VTOS program in PAEC. But the move will see places cut in Abbeyleix. The Laois VEC meeting was told that because the allocation for the county is capped at 100 places, there will be 20 less place in the Abbeyleix Further Education Centre, this year," said the CEO.

(Source: The Laois Nationalist)


The community of Drumkeerin was shocked last week to learn of the death of James Forde, Liskellew Upper, Drumkeerin. Mr. Forde's unexpected death occurred on September 17 after he had attended to his sheep and cattle. Due to the difficult terrain, the Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team were deployed in order to remove the remains of Mr Forde.

(Source: The Leitrim Observer)



Four out of every five inmates at Limerick Prison have abused drugs, and prison officers believe that "little or nothing can be done" to stem the supply, a new report has claimed.

And prisoners and their families feel "demeaned" by the care on offer from the Health Service Executive, the study claims. Now a list of recommendations is to be presented to the Government in a bid to stem the scourge of drugs in the 300-inmate Prison – and provide a much improved support structure for inmates.

(Source: The Limerick Leader)


One of Longford's most well known and popular men passed away last week following a short illness. Gerard McGrath of Lamagh, Newtownforbes died peacefully in his home surrounded by his loving family on Thursday last. He was the beloved husband of Bridget (nee Kane) and dearly loved father of Robert. He is best known as the friendly man who co-owned and worked in McGrath's Texaco beside the Red Cow Roundabout along with his brother Tom. They opened their very successful business venture in 1994 and according to his family he loved working there and enjoyed meeting people day to day. His family said: "Gerard enjoyed the simple things in life; walking in Strandhill, card games, a round of golf, an occasional pint or two over a chat.

(Source: The Longford Leader)


A call has been made for a new state-of-the-art tourist office for Drogheda to help promote the Boyne Valley region. And that follows on renewed debate over the closure of the offices at weekends, even prompting a comment from the national tidy towns judges in their outline document about the town recently. Due to reduced staff numbers within the group that run the service, Boyne Tourism, who took over the running of the office in 1997, it became impossible to open seven days a week. Also, the increased traffic on the website, has also witnessed more people checking out the town prior to leaving home. There were 7,681 separate visits in the month of August and 253,195 hits.

 (Source: The Drogheda Independent)


There was one Mayo man who celebrated the 250 years of Guinness last week more than most. Islandeady’s Richard Moylette was lucky enough to win an all expenses trip from Australia to Ireland to take part in the Arthur Guinness celebrations, courtesy of Diageo.

The 26-year old teacher is based in Sydney since December 2007 and hasn’t been home since October 2007. The Irish Echo in Australia ran the prize which included accommodation for two people, VIP tickets to the Arthur’s Day celebrations and free Guinness during their few days in Dublin.

(Source: Mayo News)


The Bishop of Meath, Most Rev Dr Michael Smith, has announced the appointment of six new parish priests in the diocese, as well as the retirement of three long-serving clergy. Fr Andrew Farrell is retiring as Parish Priest of Trim, and is being succeeded by Fr Sean Henry, PP, Kingscourt. Fr Patrick Mackin is retiring as Parish Priest of Bohermeen, and will be succeeded by Fr Andy Doyle, PP Kilskyre, who also becomes Vicar Forane, Navan.

Fr Gerard MacCormack, Administrator, Navan is to be appointed PP Kingscourt, and will be succeeded by Fr Declan Hurley, CC, Navan. Fr John Brogan, PP Donore is appointed PP, Kilskyre; Fr Michael Meade, CC Mount Bolus is appointed PP, Donore; Fr David Brennan, CC, Bohermeen is appointed CC Moynalvey; Fr Barry Condron, CC Castletown-Finea is appointed CC Dunshaughlin.

(Source: The Drogheda Independent)


A total wipeout of fish stocks in a local river has been likened to “mass murder” with fish stocks now facing a bleak future taking years to recover.
A stretch of the Ballintra River, known locally as the Castle River, was stricken with an unknown pollutant that has left one of Monaghan’s most popular fishing spots wiped out.
A spokesperson for the Northern Regional Fisheries Board stated: “A fish kill on the Ballintra River on Monday morning at 9am. Staff responded immediately. The length of river affected is approximately 10 kilometres from Drumgarran to Lough Major. Fisheries Staff have walked the river and have counted over 500 trout to date, together with other species including crayfish have been killed. A potential source has been identified, samples have been taken. The investigation is ongoing.””

(Source: The Monaghan Post)


Offaly County Council is to write to Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin to ask her to pay the Christmas bonus to social welfare recipients. Councilor Tommy McKeigue spoke of its importance for many people and said that shopkeepers had told him they were back in a situation they had never thought would return, of people seeking credit. There would be "huge debts" after Christmas, he stated. Councilor Percy Clendennen said that elderly people looked forward to the bonus. Cathaoirleach Noel Bourke said that the Minister had said she would review the matter.

(Source: The Offaly Express)



A taxi driver in Roscommon town was seriously assaulted last weekend by a number of men he had carried to Athlone, bringing to two the number of serious assaults on taxi drivers in recent weeks. Driver Muhammad Arfan was violently attacked in the early hours of Saturday morning last after bringing a group of four men and two women, aged in their 20’s and early 30’s, from Roscommon to Athlone. Commenting on the serious attack, Kevin Bishop, the Roscommon Representative for the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation, expressed concern over the recent incidents. “Mr. Arfan is still physically quite sore and hurt and has his head bandaged and it will take a long time for him to recover from this mentally; this type of incident carries mental scars,” Mr. Bishop said.

 (Source: The Roscommon Herald)


Sligo is allegedly in danger of losing the multi-million euro Rally Ireland event, with plans afoot to move the international moneyspinner to the east coast. Senator Marc MacSharry, one of the key promoters of an event that has injected millions of euro to the local economy in recent years, has vowed that Dublin's attempts to 'steal' the event will be strongly resisted. Calling on Motorsport Ireland to keep Rally Ireland in the North West, he revealed that plans have already been advanced to move the country's World Rally Championship round to the east coast, with a North County Dublin start, a Dundalk based Service Park and a finish in Belfast. He called on Motorsport Ireland, the event organizers, to only submit the successful and popular Sligo based cross border format and to drop their new plans for a move to the north east.

(Source: The Sligo Champion)


The Manager of North Tipperary County Council Mr. Terry O'Niaidh has thrown down the gauntlet to a group of residents in Mitchel Street, Thurles and told them to take him to court if they think the council has done anything wrong in the process of providing a homeless shelter on their street. The protracted and long running dispute once again dominated the September monthly meeting of the local authority in Nenagh on Monday last with the County Manager outlining how 90,000 Euro has been spent in seeking legal opinion on the Ballina and Mitchel Street issues as a result of the disputes - money which could be well spent in other areas, he said.

(Source: The Tipperary Star)


Allegations of religious discrimination made by employees of Dungannon Council have been dismissed by the Fair Employment Tribunal. The long-running case relates to a bonus scheme introduced by the council in 1989, but which was dominated by Protestant employees. Complaints were subsequently made to the Fair Employment Tribunal, however the case was dismissed last month.

 (Source: The Tyrone Times)


Local TD Deputy Brendan Kenneally has claimed Waterford people and businesses will benefit as a result of the introduction of NAMA. Describing the legislation as “one of the most important pieces of economic legislation in the history of the State”, Deputy Kenneally said NAMA was vital in order to restore health to the banking system. “The Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan TD has made a series of critical decisions over the last year in order to tackle the biggest challenge this country has faced since the foundation of the State, and it has culminated in the introduction of the NAMA legislation in the Dáil.”

 (Source: Waterford News & Star)


Mullingar Town councilor leader Ruth Illingworth made history two weeks ago by giving the first official council recognition to Mullingar's Muslim community. Ruth presented a gift basket of sweets and fruit to local businessman Rashid Butt to celebrate Eid, the festival which marks the end of the fast and abstinence of Ramadan. "I am delighted to be able to do this and recognize Muslims who now make up a substantial part of the community in Mullingar and Athlone and have provided such invaluable service to us all particularly in our hospitals," she said. "I'm sure it's not the first such presentation in Ireland to the Muslim community but it would be the first in Mullingar and Westmeath and its about time we recognized this community."

(Source: The Westmeath Examiner)


Serious doubts have been cast over the future of Wexford town's proposed €350 million Trinity Wharf center by recent developments, which seem to suggest the end is finally nigh for the highly ambitious project. Speculation has been mounting for some time regarding the future of the massive development proposed at the south end of town, which was given the go-ahead in January 2007, prior to the current economic crisis. It would be centered on the site of the old Wexford Electronix and Clover Meats factories, while land will also have to be reclaimed for the huge waterfront development. However, Deerland Construction has now withdrawn an appeal it had lodged with An Bord Pleanala in respect of a large marina development, which developer Derry McPhillips had previously described as 'integral' to Trinity Wharf.

(Source: The Wexford People)


There's just no stopping Bray's boxing bombshell. The weekend before last Katie Taylor again demolished the cream of the continent to win her fourth European boxing title on the trot. This latest boxing success of the Bray native was made all the more impressive by the fact that she won her three bouts without conceding as much as a single point to her opponents. Katie is the current world lightweight champion, the European Union champion, the AIBA 2008 world female boxer of the year, while her long term aim and ambition is to win Olympic Boxing gold in London in 2012. 'I'll take a few weeks off now. The next big one is the world championships in Barbados next year and my aim is to defend my title. To win three in a row would be very special' Taylor said.

(Source: The Wicklow People)