Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson is under new pressure after it emerged his wife organized a £50,000 loan to help her toy boy lover set up a business in Belfast. Iris Robinson secured the money from two family friend developers so 19-year-old Kirk McCambley could open a restaurant on the banks of the River Lagan. But the Strangford MP faces claims that she did not declare an interest in the business despite sitting on the local council that awarded the tender to Mr. McCambley.
(Source: The Belfast Telegraph)    

Carlow is now officially the ‘Road Rage Capital of Ireland’. A survey by Setanta Insurance broke the news before the festive season, but they have now kindly come back to us with some more details documenting exactly why Carlovians are the biggest psychos in Ireland. Apparently, eight out of ten drivers in the county have admitted to going mad behind the wheel. This is compared to the national figures, where, on average, seven out of ten drivers admit to being driven to distraction.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)

Detectives have arrested three men suspected of being involved in dissident republican activity during a raid near the Irish border. A handgun was seized during the search on a house in Belturbet. Garda (police) sources said the operation was not related to the car bomb attack on a Catholic police officer in Northern Ireland last Thursday.
 (Source: The Belfast Telegraph)

Gardaí in Co Clare are appealing for witnesses following an aggravated burglary at a house in Ardkyle, Sixmilebridge last Thursday night. A man armed with what is believed to have been a shotgun and wearing a balaclava entered the home of a woman in her 50s shortly before 11pm, and threatened her and her two sons aged 14 and 10 years.
A laptop and two mobile phones were stolen during the incident.
The raider made his escape on foot.
(Source: The Irish Times)

This is the first time that a dress specially designed and hand-stitched for Derry beauty Laura Patterson has been seen in Ireland. Laura, who was crowned Miss Ireland last year, wore the dress as her Irish national costume at the Miss World competition in South Africa in December where it was seen by more than two billion viewers. Last week it was put on display at the luxury Lough Eske Castle Hotel in Co. Donegal where it will stay for two weeks before being showcased at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Ulster Museum. The dress was created by award winning Derry and Donegal designers Joan and Lido Ghali who are renowned for their love of Celtic design.
(Source: The Derry Journal)

Up to 100% of the remaining unharvested Donegal potato crop is facing ruin due to the bad weather, according to one veteran local potato farmer. Donegal Irish Farmers' Association County Chairman and potato grower, William Monagle, said nationally 6,000 acres of potatoes across the country remain unharvested due to the weather and up to 1,000acres of potatoes across Donegal now face being wiped out.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)

HSE boss Professor Brendan Drumm spent more than €900 on a lunch in a Dublin restaurant for a "ministerial delegation" from Grenada, it has emerged. The lunch, which was held in Michelin star restaurant Chapter One, was unveiled as part of Prof Drumm's expenses. New figures show the HSE boss's expenses have exceeded €43,000 since he took office five years ago. The details of the expenses, incurred over a five-year period, including travel and subsistence and credit card expenditure, have been revealed for the first time.
(Source: The Evening Herald)
A proposed seaplane service from the Outer Docks area to a number of locations across Ireland could have negative environmental implications for the city, An Taisce has warned in a submission to the City Council. Harbourair Ireland is seeking planning approval for the seaplane link between the Docks and the largest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore while a service between Galway and Foynes in Limerick is also planned. However, the Galway branch of An Taisce has written to the Planning Department of the City Council outlining its concerns over the proposed seaplane initiative. In the letter, Galway Branch Chairman, Derrick Hambleton, said that more information on the potential negative effects on wildlife must be sought before the application could proceed. He said that the effect of the service on salmon migration patterns on the Corrib must be looked at, while he also warned that seaplanes could have a negative impact on the Claddagh swans.
(Source: Galway News)
Tributes have been paid to Tralee man Michael Dwyer, long time film critic with the Irish Times, who passed away last week following a short illness. Mr. Dwyer, who was born in St John's Park in Tralee in 1951, died in Dublin on New Year's Day, aged 58. An avid promoter of film since he was a young man, Mr. Dwyer founded the Tralee Film Society in the 1970s while he was working at Tralee's County Library and supplied the Society's notes for The Kerryman in its early years. He went on to found the Dublin Film Festival and its successor the Jameson International Film Festival. He was also a member of the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art until shortly before his death.
 (Source: The Kerryman)
A multi-million euro shopping development for Athy could finally stem the tide of shoppers leaving to shop in neighboring centres. The plan for the former Batchelors site and the adjacent JP Quinn site at Rathstewart could create up to 60 jobs if it gets the go ahead. The planning application was lodged on 21 December for the 2.4-acre site, which will, if approved, see the construction of three shopping units into which it is hoped to attract one of the large multiple retailers to the town.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)

A young Kilkenny hurler is has been discharged from hospital and is recovering at home with his family after sustaining a massive head injury during a minor hurling match last week. St Lachtain's hurler Liam Hickey, 15, of Woodview, Freshford, who plays with the village's minor team, received a blow to the head during last Monday's Minor Hurling League clash and has been in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital. Fortunately for the young player, he was wearing a helmet and according to eyewitnesses at the game, the helmet was split - such was the impact of the blow. St Lachtain's club secretary Claire Dermody said Liam was a very talented hurler and the club wished him well in his recovery. She said it was a blessing Liam had been wearing a helmet during the match or his injury could have been much worse.
"The club encourages all players to wear helmets all the time," Ms Dermody said. "From this year, every player in every age group has to wear one, no matter what."
(Source: The Kilkenny People)

The Midlands Regional Hospital has been penalized by the HSE for perceived inefficiencies, with almost €1 million being cut from its budget for this year. The €905,710 slash comes as the hospital’s performance has been found wanting under the HSE’s ‘casemix’ system, which penalizes inefficient hospitals and redirects money to more efficient ones. Performance is measured on the number of patients treated, the complexity of treatment, and how much it costs to treat patients with similar conditions in similar-sized hospitals
(Source: The Laois Nationalist)

Meanscoil Fatima, Ballinamore was "gutted" by fire last Tuesday morning, in what is suspected to be an arson attack. Emergency services received a call from a passer-by at 4.30am who spotted smoke coming out of the back of the school. Four fire brigades from Ballinamore, Drumshanbo and Mohill attended the call and it took the fire service over three hours to control the extensive fire.
(Source: The Leitrim Observer)


The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has raided the home of a former senior bank manager in Limerick, and is now investigating the operations of a major property development company in the city.
It is understood that the former bank manager had his property searched over the Christmas period, while CAB profilers visited the offices of a property firm in Limerick city last week.
(Source: The Limerick Leader)


A New Year's celebration party in Marian Park turned into a sky gazing experience after a group spotted not one but five UFOs flying over the town. Local woman Emma Murphy at 1.15am recorded the incident on video on New Year’s Day. 'We still don't know what they were but quite a few people saw them,' stated Emma. It began with two red lights appearing over Millmount and then carrying on towards Ballsgrove. Then another one appeared, followed by two more. ' They were a red/orange color and were not moving very quickly. The fireworks had ended by this stage so we ruled that out,' Emma added. The group lost sight of the strange lights as they disappeared over the distant rooftops. ' We'd love to know what they were or did other people see them,' she stated.
(Source: The Drogheda Independent)
Founder of the County Mayo Peace Park in Castlebar, Mr. Michael Feeney was two weeks ago awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for services to UK-Ireland relations. “I was taken aback by the news. I knew that international sources had submitted a nomination  and this had then to be approved by a committee and later signed-off by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown,” Michael Feeney explained.
“Of course, they then have to check if you are willing to accept the honor. I have been a dual citizen for many years and I am proud to accept it. Many of my relatives, on both side of my family, emigrated to Britain in the past,” he continued.
(Source: Mayo News)

Golf, associated with some of the most obvious ostentations of the Celtic Tiger, has hit the recessional rough and golf clubs around County Meath have started slashing their joining fees in their attempts to draw in new members. However, many are also fighting on a second front to hold onto existing members.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)

Offaly County Council has spent just under €180,000 since 2007 on expenses and fees for its councilors to attend conferences and seminars. Returns submitted by the council to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in October, show that €178,267.70 were paid out in expenditure in the 33-month period from January 2007 to September 2009. And if the council's budgeted expenditure in this area for the remainder of the year materializes, it will have spent over €235,000 in the three years.
(Source: The Offaly Independent)

Following the killing by the IRA of Lord Louis Mountbatten at Mullaghmore 30 years ago, British diplomats claimed there was a widespread belief the attack could have been prevented. Newly released Government papers from the time reveal that the British Embassy in Dublin believed that "had the Garda Siochana been more vigilant and conscientious, the murders might not have happened." The British also complained about the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Jack Lynch's response to the killing.
(Source: The Sligo Champion)
A new show by Waterford magician Keith Barry, which involves ripping a page out of the Bible and hypnotising members of his audience into thinking they are in the 1800s, is aimed at entertainment and not offence, the magician said. Keith, who currently fronts the new Deal or No Deal program on RTE television, and who is a household name with magic shows on RTE and CBS in America, was defending the content of his new show ‘Asylum’.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)

In its latest report, which was published on Monday last, Irish Business Against Litter, IBAL, ranked Athlone as 57th out of 60 towns and cities surveyed around the country, giving it the tag of 'seriously littered'. IBAL was most critical of The Bawn, an area off Church Street, which connects with the Civic Square, describing it as being in "very poor shape" and also of the approach roads coming into the town, saying two of them had a serious litter problem and a third was verging on one.
(Source: The Westmeath Examiner)

Deputy Paul Kehoe has no intention of withdrawing his 'gangsters' remark leveled against two of the country's former leading financiers. The Fine Gael man used the unparliamentary language in describing Seán FitzPatrick of Anglo Irish Bank and Michael Fingleton of Irish Nationwide Building Society. His contribution to the NAMA debate prompted a written complaint from Fingleton who described the Wexford TD's comments as outrageous and misinformed.
(Source: The Wexford People)
Kenyan police have charged two men with the killing of Kiltegan Father Fr. Jeremiah Roche, while five other suspects remain in custody. Sixty-eight-year-old Fr. Roche was killed on December 10 at his home in Kericho, where he served as a Kiltegan Fathers missionary for over 40 years. According to Regional Police Commander Patterson Maelo, the police have already found both murder weapons, an axe and a crowbar. A phone stolen from Fr. Roche's home has also been found.
(Source: The Wicklow People)