Pressure is mounting on Justice Minister David Ford to stand down as an Elder of Second Donegore Presbyterian Church over his party's controversial support of gay marriage, the Antrim Guardian can reveal.

The Presbyterian Church is vehemently opposed to the union of same sex couples, claiming that acceptance of the principle would “effectively demolish generations and centuries of societal norms” established on Christian values.

It was a position the Alliance leader publicly shared until a sensational U-turn last September which saw him say “I do” to gay marriage, with the proviso that there were “robust protections” to ensure that churches not wedded to the idea could show homosexual couples the door.
[Source: Antrim Guardian]


A recent incident involving vehicle theft in south Armagh, in which community members detained the alleged thief until police arrived, highlights the willingness of locals to cooperate with police, the area’s M.P. Conor Murphy has said.

The drama unfolded shortly before 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, when an opportunistic thief stole a jeep from a farmyard on the Skerriff Road, close to Cullyhanna.  The owner, who was nearby, gave chase but was unable to catch up.  The thief drove off in the direction of Crossmaglen but abandoned the jeep on the Annaghmare Road, around two miles from the town, and made to escape across fields.

Members of the Crossmaglen Community Safety Group, who had been alerted to the theft, became suspicious of the abandoned vehicle and followed the man’s path across the fields.

They subsequently apprehended the accused and placed him under citizens’ arrest, holding him until police arrived on the scene.
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]


Carlow Town G.A.A. clubs have been criticized for failing to take advantage of the money-making potential offered by the annual Carlow G.A.A. draw, which is currently up and running.

The first of five monthly draws takes place on May 10 with a top prize of a car or $15,700 each month.
[Source: Carlow Nationalist]


A High Court judge last Wednesday ordered a Cavan auctioneer to be committed to prison for his failure to comply with a court order obtained by a receiver over a property owned by him.

The order was made against Gerry Burns of Drumcase, Killeshandra, County Cavan, whose auctioneering business, Gerry Burns Auctioneers, is located on 45 College Street, Cavan Town.
[Source: The Anglo Celt]


The number of dead animals collected in Clare as the result of the worst fodder crisis in living memory has increased by an estimated 60 percent this year, according to a local farm leader.

Clare I.F.A. Chairman Andrew Dundas revealed the number of animals, collected by knackeries operating in the Mid-West, has jumped significantly for the first few months of 2013 by as much as 60 percent compared to the same period last year.
[Source: Clare Champion]


A battered Massey Ferguson tractor and a metal tub were the tools used in the James Bond-like expedition that smuggled Cork photojournalist Mark Condren over the Syrian border where Western media is banned.

"We had done all the research," Mark said, "Me and journalist Jason O'Brien had lined up a fixer to meet us in Turkey."

A fixer is a person who organizes interviews, security clearance and also works as a translator.

"Before I left, I felt terrible, now in hindsight, I can enjoy it and think back on it, but in the airport with my wife and three children, I was just thinking, what am I doing?"
[Source: Cork Independent]


A Fresian cow, shot in the head, lying alongside a Fresian bull calf dumped by the side of a forest track off a main road outside Limavady – this was the horrifying discovery made by a walker at the scenic Loughermore Forest last Wednesday.

The gruesome find has shocked residents of the quiet scenic area off the New Line Road.

Local farmers who spoke with the Journal shortly after the animals were discovered said they’d never seen the like of it before
[Source: Derry Journal]


The woman whose remains were found washed ashore at Bundoran last Tuesday has been named.

Gardaí (police) in Ballyshannon confirmed that the remains found shortly after noon in the sea behind the Waterworld Complex were those of Ita Maguire.

The 87-year-old, who is thought to be a native of south Donegal, was residing at a local care home.
[Source: Donegal Democrat]


“Love at first note” – that was how “The Voice” judge,, described how he felt upon hearing the jaw-dropping performance of Newry-born classical singer, Carla Maney and her singing partner, Barbara Kelly, during the T.V. auditions on Saturday night, April 20. On hearing the very first note of the duo’s spine-tingling rendition of opera classic, “The Flower Duet,” the judge pressed his button to face the stage.

The pair became the unmitigated stars of the show, earning a standing ovation from the audience and all four coaches.  Indeed, Danny O’Donoghue, Jessie J, Tom Jones and, were simply in awe of the singers’ abilities, with The Script front-man describing their performance as “like angels singing.”
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]


A Dublin man has appeared in court charged with raping and sexually assaulting two sisters over a six-year period.

The man, who is in his 40s, has been ordered to stay away from the alleged victims and not to contact them for the duration of the trial.

He appeared before Tallaght District Court charged with 12 counts of sexual assault and 12 counts of rape of a female over a six-year period in the 1990s.
[Source: Evening Herald]


Speaking to the Fermanagh Herald last week, Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay gave an update on how the P.S.N.I.’s work is progressing.

“Planning is well advanced now,” he reported. “One of the major challenges we had was around the logistics and infrastructure, but all of that is coming together.”

There has been a marked increase in the number of police officers in Enniskillen and the surrounding area, and A.C.C. Finlay acknowledged that as an “obvious” progression.
[Source: Fermanagh Herald]


Minister of State for Tourism, Michael Ring has unveiled the final route for the Wild Atlantic Way, which will run from Donegal to Cork, via Galway.

It'll be Ireland's first long-distance driving route, stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Cork.

The 1,550-mile route was unveiled following a public consultation process.

It includes 156 strategically placed discover points for tourists, many of which are in Galway.
[Source: Galway Bay FM]


A fire broke out at a building in Killorglin, County Kerry.

The alarm was raised at around 4 a.m. at a commercial unit with apartments overhead on Langford Street.

There are no reports of injuries and those living in the building managed to escape before emergency services arrived.
[Source: Irish Examiner]


Gardaí (police) in Newbridge have been recording some successes in the past two weeks, with arrests made following burglaries in the area.

Two men spotted running from a house at Standhouse Lawns last Monday morning found themselves taken into custody after a local resident notified the Gardaí about suspicious activity in the area.
[Source: Kildare Nationalist]


A man has been found not guilty by reason of insanity of the manslaughter of a married couple in a Kilkenny road crash.

Sean Dillon, of Killerig, County Carlow, told Dr. Paul O’Connell (Consultant Psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital) after the crash that it was a suicide attempt and that he wanted to die.

Kilkenny Circuit Court heard last Monday that on the evening of August 24, 2011 at 6:20 p.m., Dillon grabbed the steering wheel of the car driven by his sister and forced it across the road, hitting an oncoming car and killing two of the occupants, a retired couple, and leaving the driver of the car, their daughter, with very serious injuries. It also left Dillon’s sister badly injured.
[Source: Kilkenny People]


The wait is finally over for Picnic fans as the lineup has just been announced. So fans will be merrily dancing to a wide range of musical delights, including: Bjork, Fatboy Slim, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, David Byrne and St. Vincent, Eels, Noah and the Whale, Johnny Marr, Ocean Colour Scene, Hurts, Mick Flannery, Warpaint, The Walkmen, Tiga, Baauer, Savages, The Strypes, Policia, Chvches, Parquet Courts, Clinic, Deep Valley, Disclosure and Soak.

What began as a one-day outing to Stradbally in the late summer of 2004 10 years ago is now an annual national treasure – the nation’s favorite festival of music, art, fine food, spoken word and the wonderfully unexpected. To celebrate 10 years of turning heads and making magic in the fields, this year’s Picnic tickets are coming at a discounted price, starting from $194.57 for a weekend ticket for those who can prove they have been to three previous Picnics.
[Source: Leinster Express]


Aughawillan’s glamorous Rose, Niamh Flanagan, ditched the high heels, party dress and celebrations to spend her 21st birthday as a volunteer in a Children’s Mental Institution in Chernobyl.

In what was one of the most challenging humanitarian missions they have undertaken, 19 roses and escorts from the 2012 Rose of Tralee traveled with Adi Roche to Belarus on Sunday, March 24, to work as volunteers in Vesnova Children’s Institution. The orphanage is situated 108 miles from Chernobyl, the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident that caused thousands of deaths and forced more than half a million to flee from their homes in 1986.
[Source: Leitrim Observer]


Around 40 people staged a protest outside the regeneration offices in Moyross last Wednesday to highlight their frustration and anger over Limerick City Council’s policy of seizing horses in the area.

A letter was handed in by the protesters, who have offered to sit down with the local authority in the hope of reaching an agreement.

Under current bylaws, the keeping of horses is not permitted in the city boundary without a license.

However, no licenses have ever been issued.
[Source: Limerick Leader]


He may have become a media sensation overnight but for Longford’s newest lottery millionaire, it was business as usual when he returned to his day job with Bord Na Mona last Monday.

Ger Hand was already a local celebrity when he featured on R.T.É.’s Six One News two weeks ago in an interview with Lanesboro man and correspondent Ciaran Mullooly. The resultant interview catapulted Ger to national fame and media outlets clamored to get a few words from Ireland’s newest millionaire for the ultimate feel-good story.
[Source: Longford Leader]


There was widespread shock and sadness in Castlebellingham, Kilsaran and surrounding areas last Monday morning, as it became clear that a mother of young children from Castlebellingham was the victim of the fatal accident between Dunleer and Monasterboice on Sunday night, April 21.

Linda Bray from Gort Nua estate at the edge of Castlebellingham lost her life when she was in two-car collision.

The fatal crash happened shortly after 10 p.m. at Castletown near a very dangerous bend that was also the scene of a fatal crash a few years ago.
[Source: Dundalk Democrat]


A Castlebar Town Councilor has suggested the introduction of a bylaw to ban the use of hoodies in the town as a crime prevention measure.

The suggestion was made by Independent Councilor Michael Kilcoyne, who raised the issue following the recent high-profile theft of a Brennan’s Bread van from outside Mulroy’s shop in Castlebar.

The C.C.T.V. footage of the incident showed two youths stealing the van but the footage was inconclusive in identifying the culprits because their faces were hidden by their hoodies. At the Joint Policing Committee meeting two weeks ago, Clr. Kilcoyne suggested that a bylaw banning hoodies should be introduced.
[Source: The Mayo News]


On Saturday, April 20, Kells Local Heroes kicked off their first painting and cleaning day for 2013 when volunteers turned out in force to give Kenlis Place or Back Street, as it’s known locally, a colorful makeover.

Eight buildings were each given fresh coats of green, blue, terracotta, yellow, pink and beige paint in an operation that has given a colorful transformation to the busy street.
[Source: Meath Chronicle]


Part of the cross-border Ulster Canal, which has not been used for 80 years, is to reopen, it has been revealed.

The nine-mile route runs from Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to Clones in Co. Monaghan.

New towpaths and bridges will also be created as part of the $46 million work, which is expected to take three years.
[Source: Irish Independent]


Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly, and Dublin G.A.A. star Bryan Cullen recently announced the winners of Aviva Health’s Schools Fitness Challenge 2013. Ireland’s fittest School is Oaklands Community College, Edenderry, County Offaly. The fittest school and most improved school, Abbey C.B.S, Co. Tipperary, attended a special awards ceremony at Aviva Stadium.

The national challenge, developed by Professor Niall Moyna in Dublin City University and the Wellness Economic Initiative Alliance, invited all secondary schools throughout the country to join in making physical fitness a national priority, by assessing the fitness levels of first- and second-year school children over a six-week period and advocating for improvements in their overall health.
[Source: Offaly Express]


Struggling farmers in Roscommon are being advised to seek assistance from the Department of Agriculture and banks as the fodder crisis throughout the county continues to worsen.

Roscommon I.F.A. Chairman John O’Beirne said last week that the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney must come forward with more measures to alleviate the real hardship and financial stress on the worst affected farms.

“This is now a crisis situation and the minister needs to put a fund in place and make it available immediately to anybody who is under severe pressure.”
[Source: Roscommon Herald]


Sligo Regional Hospital (S.R.H.) will be introducing a smoke-free campus policy on May 31.

From this date, it will no longer be permissible to smoke anywhere on the hospital grounds (i.e. entrances, doorways, walkways, internal roads, car parks, bicycle shelters).

The smoke-free campus policy will apply to all staff, patients, visitors, contractors and anyone who enters the hospital campus or buildings. This will ensure that as a health-promoting hospital we will have a safer and cleaner environment for all and better health outcomes for patients and staff.
[Source: Leitrim Observer]


Business will continue as normal at both Hayes Hotel and the Creggan Court Hotel, and there will be no interruptions to trade. The hotels will honor all customer bookings, deposits and memberships.

Hayes Hotel, the birthplace of the G.A.A. , has its origins in the town going back to the 18th century and is the shrine in the Mecca that is Thurles Town for most hurling followers in the country. The Association was founded in the billiards room on November 1, 1884.

News of the receivership move has come as a big shock to townsfolk, the majority of whom would have visited the establishment at some stage or another.
[Source: Tipperary Star]


Churchgoers have reacted angrily to parking tickets handed out while they attended their Sunday worship two weekends ago.

At least six parking tickets were handed out by the P.S.N.I. to parishioners attending services in Dungannon Presbyterian Church and St. Anne's Parish Church on Sunday morning, April 21.

Churchgoers have expressed their concern that the police didn't consult or warn the churches that they were planning to clamp down on cars parked on double yellow lines before Sunday morning. They have also questioned why only cars parked at Scotch Street have been targeted.
[Source: Tyrone Courier]


Patrick Brady, a customer of SPAR in Barrack Street in Waterford, is to get a one year’s respite from paying his household bills after being announced as Spar Ireland’s “Pay Your Bills for a Year” competition.

Owner of Spar Barrack Street, Gerry Grey, said: “We are delighted to see one of our customers win this fantastic prize and we hope it will be a welcome relief not to have to worry about the bills for one whole year. We appreciate that times are still difficult and this competition is just one small way in which we can give something back to our shoppers who continue to support local Irish businesses, such as SPAR.”
[Source: Waterford News & Star]


A Mullingar firm is lobbying hard against an E.U. proposal that it is warning could place 120 jobs in Mullingar in jeopardy.

The E.U., in its draft Tobacco Products Directive, is proposing to ban the sale of tobacco in pouch sizes smaller than 40g – which could have major implications for Mullingar’s Imperial Tobacco factory, in business at the town since 1967, and paying out $9 million in wages annually.
[Source: Westmeath Examiner]


A young County Wexford couple spoke last Tuesday of their joy at having two children from donor sperm insemination.

Marcus and Natalie Kirwan, from Courtown, are the first Irish couple to go public about their decision to opt for donor sperm insemination because of fertility problems.

The couple married in 2004 and after trying for several years to have children sought counseling from a fertility clinic.
[Source: Irish Independent]


Dublin Bus was 70 percent liable for the injuries caused to a 12-year-old Spanish student after he ran out on to the road in Bray, County Wicklow, the High Court has found.

Carlo Tech, from Madrid, suffered catastrophic head injuries when he was hit by a bus in February 2009. As a result, he could not walk or speak and was totally dependent on others, the court had been told. He went out on to the road because he was afraid of a group of older Irish boys behind a wall. It had been alleged those boys were previously involved in a confrontation with the Spanish boys.

In his judgment last Tuesday, Mr. Justice Kevin Cross said he had viewed C.C.T.V. footage and he accepted the bus driver was “very safe” and “careful.”
[Source: Irish Times]

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