Police were last week testing suspected component bomb parts found abandoned in a van in south Armagh as speculation grew they have foiled a dissident plot to bring a massive amount of explosives into Northern Ireland.  An unidentified “granular” substance found packed into barrels and drums is being examined by forensic experts following a long-running security alert south of Newry. It is believed the components could potentially have been used to make a 1,000lb bomb or a number of smaller devices.
(Source: The Belfast Telegraph)  

Three staff at Ong’s Chinese takeaway in Leighlinbridge was forced to brave cooler weather conditions than most of us this Christmas after they were ordered into a walk-in freezer by an armed raider on Monday night last.  The robbery at the popular Leighlinbridge eatery occurred at around 10pm when the lone raider entered the premises through the back door. The man, who is described as being in his early 20s, is of slim build and was wearing a balaclava-type head piece, black hoodie and black jeans. He was also in possession of what gardaí believed was a firearm. After demanding money from the staff, he ordered the three male members of staff into the freezer.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)

Killinkere has once again been plunged into grief following the sudden death of 24-year-old Tommie Michael Clarke of Granafarna, Grousehall, Bailieborough. Tommie was taken to Cavan General Hospital after being found on Main Street, Virginia at about 1.30am on December 27. The results of a post mortem have not yet been released, but gardaí in Virginia, who went to the scene on Main Street after receiving a phone call to alert them, said it was being treated as "a sudden death". Tommie, who was a popular member of Killinkere GAA Club, leaves behind his heartbroken parents Philip and Kathleen, brothers James and Pat, sister Ann Marie and other family members including two grandmothers.
(Source: The Anglo Celt)

A 77-year-old man was airlifted to hospital late last Thursday night following a search which was launched after he had been reported missing. The man was feeding livestock on his farm at Ballymacloon near the village of Quin about 13 kilometers from Ennis. The man was found lying in a drain from which he was apparently unable to free himself. A neighbor reported the man missing. Gardaí (police), assisted by members of Clare Civil Defense and locals, went to the scene and began a search for the missing farmer. The crew of the rescue aircraft located the missing man within half an hour using its high-tech forward looking infra-red (FLIR) equipment which can be used to see in total darkness.
(Source: The Irish Times)

Derry City’s new chairman, Philip O'Doherty, has issued an upbeat New Year's message to fans of the "Candy Stripes," insisting that great progress has been made off the pitch since the Board of Directors took office just a few weeks ago. He also expressed his disappointment at the decision of a number of local players who have decided to move on to join other clubs.
Mr. O'Doherty confirmed that Derry City's new kit sponsors for next season would be the international brand, Hummel, who sponsored Cork City last season and he also had good news in relation to a new major sponsor of the Brandywell club.
(Source: The Derry Journal)

The darts fraternity in the north-west will be keeping a close eye on the BDO World Darts Championships with Martin McCloskey taking to the oche this week. McCloskey, who is a native of Carnhill in Derry, has lived in Letterkenny for the last 15 years and throws locally for the Glencar Inn team in the Letterkenny League, Wilkin's of Churchill in the Churchill League and Durkan's from Ramelton in the Farn League. On Monday, in his debut at the Lakeside Center, he will open against 11th seed, Steve West of England. West is currently ranked at the top of the BDO rankings. McCloskey will be the first man who plays out of Donegal to participate in the BDO Championships since Gerard Porter, a native of the Twin Towns, in 2006.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)

Dublin’s Lord Mayor is expecting good things for the capital in 2010, despite the challenges that remain.  Emer Costello said that next year will be a "difficult one" but there should be more optimism than in the year gone by.  Ms Costello explained: "When I look back on 2009, it has been a difficult year, but still there have been things worth celebrating.  "There have been two examples in recent weeks -- the opening of the new Luas line in the docklands was a really fabulous day for the city and then the other good news was the Samuel Beckett Bridge," she said.  Ms Costello, who will remain in the Mansion House until next June, says she is "very much aware of the challenges facing everybody".  But she added: "As I've been visiting different areas it has struck me that there's a strong sense of community and Dubliners are very resilient."  The Lord Mayor has had a busy festive period with Christmas Day actually being "one of the busiest working days" she has had yet". The Mansion House has been a hive of activity over the season with a live crib and a concert among other events. Many of the events have been held to collect money for the Lord Mayor's Relief Fund, which normally raises around €20,000 for city charities.
(Source: The Evening Herald)

The Cornagrade housing estate in Enniskillen, which has around 650 houses, is to get a £47,000 facelift. The funding, which has been announced by the Social Development Minister, Margaret Ritchie will enable environmental improvements within the estate. In particular, the investment from the DSD Neighbourhood Renewal Investment Fund will facilitate the construction of 13 car spaces in Riverside, eight car spaces in Carnmore Rise; an improved traffic flow in both areas; and improved pedestrian safety. Local residents were consulted on how the program could create a safer area. Local Mags O'Reilly who lives in Riverside, summed up their feelings: "We are delighted that it is going to happen.
(Source: The Fermanagh Herald)

Two down, one to go. The odds are decreasing sharply on a Galway racing syndicate landing an incredible £1m sterling bonus after Go Native pulled off another successful big race cross-channel raid at Kempton on St. Stephen’s Day. The Docado Syndicate will now be keeping their fingers crossed over the next ten weeks that their pride and joy stays on course for the third and final leg of the WBX £1m bonus, the Champion Hurdle, at the prestigious Cheltenham National Hunt festival.
(Source: Galway News)

The IDA, the body specifically charged with attracting foreign investment into Ireland, failed to generate a single job in Kerry in the last year. The agency's official report for 2009 admits the IDA did not create any jobs in Kerry in the last 12 months while IDA supported companies in the county shed more than 500 jobs. The situation in Kerry is in stark contrast to Cork where the IDA created 850 jobs in 2009 alone and secured a further €32 million in foreign investment. The IDA's final 2009 figures highlight the agency's continuing failure to attract any significant investment into Kerry, which lays a distant third behind Cork and Limerick when it comes to foreign investment.
(Source: The Kerryman)

The resignation of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Dr James Moriarty Thursday two weeks ago has been greeted with sadness and disappointment by priests in the diocese. Bishop Moriarty resigned in the wake of the report into the handling of sexual abuse cases in the Dublin Arch Diocese where he served as an auxiliary bishop before taking over as Bishop in Kildare and Leighlin. Just a week before his resignation Bishop Moriarty had insisted that there were no grounds for his resignation. The Murphy Commission found that Bishop Moriarty could have asked Archbishop Connell to research the files on Fr Edmondus after complaints about the priest had been received by the Diocese. The parish priest of Newbridge Fr Joseph McDermott said he was disappointed that Bishop Moriarty had to resign.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)

A female Dean for St Canice's Cathedral has been appointed, the second woman ever to be appointed Dean in the Church of Ireland. The Revd Canon Katharine Poulton has been appointed the new Church of Ireland Dean of Ossory and Rector of the Kilkenny Group of parishes, and will take up her duties after Easter. Canon Poulton was one also among the first group of women to be ordained in the Church of Ireland in 1987. The position of Dean of St Canice’s Cathedral has been male dominated since the Middle Ages.
(Source: The Kilkenny People)

The family of Mountmellick woman Imelda Keenan, who went missing in Waterford in 1994, has made a €10,000 reward available for new information regarding her whereabouts.
Imelda disappeared near her Waterford city centre flat at William Street almost 16 years ago. She was 22 at the time and was last seen in the Lombard Street area of the city on Monday 3 January 1994. Just weeks before the 16th anniversary of her disappearance, Imelda’s family hope that their renewed appeal for information may shed new light on their ongoing plight. While a pre-existing reward of €10,000 remains on offer from Crimestoppers, the Mountmellick family hopes the additional reward might provide new impetus in establishing what became of Imelda.
(Source: The Laois Nationalist)

While the rest of the country awoke on Christmas morning to a picturesque winter wonderland, the residents of Longford town helplessly looked on as their historic landmark St Mel's Cathedral was engulfed with flames. A fire started in the beautiful 19th century building in the early hours of Christmas Morning and Emergency Services were called to the Cathedral in the centre of Longford town at 4.45am after a resident on Chapel Street noticed the flames. The investigation continues.
 (Source: The Leitrim Observer)

Nobody knows what 2010 will bring but who could possibly have imagined, this time last year, what lay in store in 2009? A year ago fashion stylist Celia Holman Lee told the Limerick Leader that her New Year's Resolution was to take things a little easier and enjoy some time for herself.  As we look ahead to 2010, Ms Holman Lee's New Year's resolution has changed as dramatically as the economy did in 2009.  "All that is gone out the window now with the way things have gone," she admitted, "so I'd say I'll be working as hard as I've ever worked rather than actually thinking of retiring."
(Source: The Limerick Leader)

Nearly 200 people attended the emergency department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital since December 24th with a series of injuries, many as a result of falls due to the freezing conditions. A HSE spokesperson confirmed that approx 180 presentations were made at the emergency department at the hospital following 'falls and slips' according to the press office. Meanwhile, Mayor of Drogheda Michael O'Dowd admitted many residents became ' prisoners in their own homes' over the Christmas period as the lack of gritting left conditions on footpaths too dangerous for use.
(Source: The Drogheda Independent)

A consultation process has begun in Westport on the number of Masses celebrated weekly in St Mary’s Church, Drummin Church and Lecanvey Church. Each week about 26 Masses are celebrated across the three churches but with the reduction in priest numbers in recent times this number, which does not take account of funeral, wedding and school Masses, is likely to reduce quite dramatically early in 2010. Archbishop Michael Neary has pointed out on numerous occasions; the number of priests available to work in parishes across the diocese has declined dramatically in recent years.
(Source: Mayo News)

A last-minute shopping surge two weeks ago provided a much-needed boost for Meath businesses who reported a relatively busy festive season, but a reduced spend by shoppers. In Navan, traders were upbeat despite the fact that many experienced a fall-off in business this year - but many said the spending reduction wasn't as bad as they had feared.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)

The number of bus services in Offaly is likely to be significantly reduced in the new year after the Labor Court largely backed a series cost-cutting measures proposed by Bus Éireann.  Following a hearing last month, the Labor Court recommended some changes to the company's proposed measures but ultimately backed its plan to cut routes and take 150 vehicles out of service. It's understood that Bus Éireann is proposing cuts to four of its routes serving towns in Offaly.
(Source: The Offaly Independent)

The funeral took place last Wednesday of John Ryan, Upper Rosses, Rosses Point, one of Sligo's best known and respected businessmen who died peacefully at Sligo General Hospital on Sunday last. John entered the auctioneering business in 1968 in accommodation above the shop, one of only a small number of auctioneers in Sligo at the time. In conjunction with Edmund Farrell senior who was in charge of Irish Permanent in Dublin, Mr. Ryan introduced the Irish Permanent to Sligo for the first time. Another of his business interests was the White House Hostel on Markievicz Road and he was also a former Director of the Southern Hotel in the early 1980's. The late Mr. Ryan also had a keen involvement in music and was founder member of the Sligo Choral Festival.
(Source: The Sligo Champion)

St Bridget's Family and Community Center and Waterford Institute of Technology are some Waterford organizations to receive Government Dormant Accounts Funding welcomed by Waterford's Minister Martin Cullen TD.  Waterford organizations will receive €180,000 under the end-of-year round of this Fund, which aims to revitalize communities throughout the country through planning, investment and development (RAPID).
(Source: Waterford Today)

Mullingar has got a serious "thumbs up" from one of its best known natives last week, Ryanair boss, Michael O'Leary. But, he says, the town has suffered from a lack of political influence. In a wide-ranging interview with a local paper just days before Christmas, Mr. O'Leary touched on his career ambitions, his life in Mullingar - and on where he sees Ryanair going. And he has tipped local TD Willie Penrose as a possible minister in the next Government. A native of Mullingar, Mr. O'Leary says he is very proud of the town.
(Source: The Westmeath Examiner)

Worshippers attending the Christmas Day service at St. Mary's Church of Ireland church in Enniscorthy had some very distinguished, unexpected visitors in their midst on Friday last. Church warden Ken Leech opened the church door to a gentleman wearing a dark coat and the trademark glasses of Ireland's best-known rock singer. The stranger was accompanied by his wife, two children and his father-in-law who all took their place without fuss in a pew among the congregation of 94. Word was relayed to Archdeacon Chris Long that Bono and family were in the church, all unannounced, but the Rector did not quite believe it until he spotted him during his sermon. Yes, it really was Paul Hewson (also known as Bono), Ali Hewson, along with their children and Ali's father who has a house in the Scarawalsh area.
(Source: The Wexford People)

Even Christmas Day didn't provide any respite for the crews of the Wicklow's Mountain Rescue Teams as they responded to no less than four call outs. The first call for the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue and the Dublin/Wicklow Mountain Rescue teams arrived bright and early at 4.15 a.m. on Christmas morning after recovery services were unable to come to the assistance of a couple who had been stranded at the remote Featherbeds area of the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains. Icy conditions meant the high mountain roads were hazardous.
(Source: The Wicklow People)