Alliance leader David Ford has confirmed that he is poised to resign his Council seat to devote his energies to his new role as Northern Ireland Justice Minister.
 With new legislation opening the door for co-option of new members rather than a costly by-election - and one that Alliance would struggle to win at that - all eyes will be on the newcomer joining the chamber.
(Source: The Antrim Guardian)

A new blueprint for overseeing controversial parades in Northern Ireland hopes to avoid future violence by encouraging rival groups to talk to each other. First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness unveiled proposals for a new system to replace the current Parades Commission. The plans, including a new focus on encouraging dialogue, have been drawn-up under the terms of the Hillsborough Castle Agreement brokered to stabilize the power-sharing government at Stormont.
(Source: The Irish Times)


A family drove across England the weekend before last carrying the remains of their father in a heroic attempt to fulfill his dying wish to be buried in his native Carlow.

 The remains of Richard Anthony (Dick) Kinsella, formerly of St Mary’s Park, Carlow, were left stranded in Birmingham Airport on Friday night last, when air travel across Europe ground to a halt due to volcanic ash. His daughters Beth and Anna courageously decided to drive the remains of their dad back to Carlow themselves Saturday before last, taking on a six-hour drive across England to the ferry at Holyhead.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)


More than €1.3m will be spent on various education projects including a new school for Laragh, a major extension for Virginia College and smaller projects at 31 schools in the county under the Summer Works Scheme. Meanwhile, funding of €7.5 was sanctioned for the completion of the new inner-relief road for Ballyconnell, which has now gone to tender. Also, almost €2m was announced for Co. Cavan under the Rural Water Program. This money will be spent on upgrading group water schemes and modernizing small public water and sewerage schemes.
(Source: The Anglo Celt)


A fledgling water company in Lissycasey is tapping into a lucrative market on the continent after securing an annual contract to supply 14 million bottles of natural spring water to a major European airline. Last week, the first consignment of biodegradable and compostable bottles, the first of their kind in Ireland and produced by Clare Spring Water Limited at its €4.2 million plant, was transported to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
 While Clare Spring, located on High Street, has signed a confidentiality clause with the European company concerning some aspects of the deal, the new export contract is regarded as a major coup for the company, which is less than a year in operation. Up to 84,000 biodegradable bottles can be produced by the plant daily in full production.
Management from the European airline, which prides itself on being environmentally friendly, visited Clare Spring recently and conducted a thorough examination of the water production facilities before committing to the lucrative deal.
(Source: The Clare Champion)


A new multi-million euro nursing home in Ballincollig, that will employ up to 100-people when it is fully operational, is set to open its doors by the end of this year.
(Source: The Corkman)


Derry continues to top the North's unemployment league. Figures released last week by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) show a total of 5,057 people, or 7.4% of the workforce, are out of work in the city.
(Source: The Derry Journal)


A new survey has reported that 90 percent of Donegal people have no idea how much water they use. The details of the survey came in the same week that councilors got a preview of new technology that will enable the council to keep closer tabs on water consumption from council schemes.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)


Dissident republicans based in the border areas of south Armagh and north Louth are delivering ready-made bombs to Belfast for spectacular attacks on big targets – including Palace Barracks and Policing Board Headquarters. A senior security source described those border regions as “the crucible” of dissident engineering activity – meaning their bomb making.
(Source: The Belfast Telegraph)


Dublin Bus has revealed plans for a radical overhaul of its services with major re-routing and one in 12 buses being taken off the road within months. Up to 150 bus drivers will also be made redundant under the scheme, which will start in July. But despite the reduction on buses, a company spokesperson insisted it would not result in delays for passengers. Dublin Bus is promising buses every 10 minutes, or less, on most services during peak demand times. The company insists it will provide more frequent services with fewer buses by avoiding congestion. The new plan, the most in-depth review of Dublin's bus network ever undertaken, will result in savings of €12m a year to the company.
(Source: The Evening Herald)


Neighbors of a young Catholic police officer's family whose car was burnt out in an arson incident outside their Cornagrade, Enniskillen home early on Wednesday before last have rallied round in their support. A PSNI spokesman said the family had no comment to make due to the ongoing investigation. One female neighbor described them as, 'a lovely family, a very quiet, nice young couple with (three) kids'.
"There are both Protestants and Catholics living together up here. It is a lovely area and I myself have been living here all my life, for 36 years, and it's sickening to think that this would start up now.”
 (Source: The Fermanagh Herald)


A new ‘hybrid’ social welfare scheme – which would provide payments to thousands of former self-employed workers in Galway, and allow them to work on infrastructural projects and community schemes – is expected to be introduced by Social Protection Minister Éamon Ó Cuív. The scheme could see some of Galway’s unemployed – who are not entitled to social welfare contributions – working on major projects such as laying a fiber optic broadband network between Galway and Clifden, and extending Salthill Promenade out to Oranmore.
(Source: Galway News)


After an absence of 30 long years, Tarbert's Colleen Bawn festival is to be revived this June, with dates to be announced.
(Source: The Kerryman)


Kevin O’Neill has withdrawn from the Kildare senior football panel. The Moorefield defender revealed his decision to management last week.
The 29-year-old has been a bit-part player for the Lilywhites in the past two seasons, having succumbed to a number of injuries and a subsequent loss of form.
He arrived on the inter-county scene relatively late in his career, missing out on minor and under-21 selection before being given a chance at senior level by John Crofton in 2006.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)

The future of one of the city's main employers may be under threat. A cloud hangs over the 400 personnel at James Stephens Military Barracks. The barracks generates between €7 and €10 million annually into the local economy and its closure would be catastrophic. The positive benefit of the barracks was felt during the cold snap when personnel, backing up the civic authorities brought relief from flooding and ice.
(Source: The Kilkenny People)


Laois senior hurler Willie Hyland has added to his growing reputation after he was once again recognized with an Ulster Bank Rising Star award for his performances in the Fitzgibbon Cup. Hyland was selected at wing forward on the team, and was in good company in the forward line which also includes Tipperary's Timmy Hammersley and John Conlon of Clare. It's the second time Hyland has been selected on the team, and he is one of just two LIT players to make the team, with Clare's NIcky O'Connell the other at corner back.
 (Source: The Leinster Express)


The people of Mohill and Leitrim gathered in their thousands last Wednesday and Thursday to say an emotional final farewell to County footballers star Philip McGuinness whose untimely death last Monday has left the entire county stunned and shrouded in grief. The out-pouring of grief since the news of Philip's passing was confirmed in a statement released by the Leitrim GAA County Board on Monday evening last has been over-whelming with messages boards and books of condolence rapidly filling with tributes for the Mohill footballer pouring in from all over the world.
 (Source: The Leitrim Observer)


Two of the most powerful and influential business figures in County Limerick were at loggerheads last week over a proposed €1million development in their home village of Croom. Denis Brosnan who is chairperson of both the Mid-West Taskforce and the Limerick Local Government Committee, and Plunkett Hayes who is the Revenue Sheriff for Limerick and Clare, have for a number of years now, held opposing views on how the Well Meadow area of the village should be utilized.
 (Source: The Limerick Leader)


Longford County Council has been told to crack down on defaulters after a Leader investigation revealed the local authority is owed almost €9 million in unpaid charges. The figures show householders and businesses across the county owe €8.96m in outstanding development levies, rent and rates.
(Source: The Longford Leader)


An air pistol, a 4" blade and two screwdrivers were all confiscated from young men - one a juvenile - in four separate seizures in Drogheda the weekend before last. The finds were part of routine stops and searches carried out by patrols in various parts of the town from Friday night to Sunday night last. One of the seizures was in broad daylight on the North Quay, whilst two were in the early hours of Saturday morning last in West Street and Trinity Street, with a fourth on the Donore Road. How to deal with the increase in crime is a matter of debate in Drogheda.
(Source: The Irish Times)


It’s a bug’s life. Even government ministers have reached that conclusion. Although, despite the buzz, there wasn’t a bee in sight, when, in glorious sunshine, Transport Minister, Noel Dempsey opened Westport’s latest luxury hotel, shortly after 2pm last Friday afternoon.   “I am reliably informed this is one Five Star hotel that is not going to end up in NAMA,” Minister Dempsey said. He beamed broadly as he ceremoniously booked-in the first guest to Ostán Fheithidí an Bhealaigh Ghlais – The Greenway Insect Hotel. Indeed, Minister Dempsey seemed unfazed by the fact it was a wiggly worm that was first to cross the red carpet, and not a glamorous Ladybird, as was the twitter on the bush telegraph. Only minutes earlier, Noel Dempsey, with his carapace – aka helmet – twinkling in the sunlight had landed ahead of an army of multi-colored cyclists at the new hotel located on the Greenway near the Quay.
(Source: Mayo News)


Fifty Meath GPs have sent a petition to the Health Service Executive (HSE) chief executive Brendan Drumm calling for the reinstatement of the consultant surgeon, Joe McGrath, who has been suspended from the staff of Our Lady's Hospital in Navan. The GPs claim that his suspension is linked to his publicly-stated opposition to HSE cutbacks which he says have led to a "downgrading" of the hospital. Claims that there was no consultant surgeon on duty at the hospital last week as a result of the suspension have been denied by the HSE.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)


Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen has assured people in Clonmacnoise that public consultation will take place ahead of its chance of inclusion on the World Heritage List. Last week the Government announced Ireland's new Tentative List of potential nominees to the World Heritage List. The new Tentative List which has been submitted to UNESCO includes the Monastic City of Clonmacnoise and its Cultural Landscape.
 (Source: The Offaly Express)


Roscommon County Council has been allocated more than €90 million in government funding to deliver new and improved water and sewerage infrastructure across the county over the next three years. The major funding announcement was made last Monday by local TD and Minister for Housing and Local Services Michael Finneran under the Water Service Investment Program and the Rural Water Program 2010.
(Source: The Roscommon Champion)


Ending weeks of intense speculation, it was confirmed last week that revered poet and legendary songwriter, Leonard Cohen, is to perform at an open air concert at Lissadell House, County Sligo, on Saturday, July 31st.
 (Source: The Sligo Champion)


St Mary's Famine Museum in Thurles is expected to close in May as a result of a recent spate of vandalism, despite the fact that it is a financially viable visitor and tourist attraction. The decision is expected to be taken at a Vestry meeting of the Church of Ireland community to be held early in May and will bring the curtain down on Thurles' main tourist attraction which saw visitors coming from all over the world.
 (Source: The Tipperary Star)


One of Tyrone's greatest cultural treasures, a 450-year-old silver chain of office used by the O'Neills, may soon return home after gathering dust in the vaults of an Edinburgh museum for more than a century. The whereabouts of the priceless ceremonial chain has been at the heart of an international mystery which has obsessed historians and O’Neill enthusiasts for decades. However, local historical sleuths have managed to track the item to a museum in Edinburgh where it languished as part of a trove of other valuable artifacts from Tyrone.
 (Source: Belfast Telegraph)


A decline in vocations has been given as the reason taken by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to lose the landmark Grace Dieu retreat centre on the Tramore Road. Nine jobs will be lost when the centre closes in September 2011, it was confirmed by the Centre’s director, Fr. Michael Serrage.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)


Fresh forensic evidence may clear an Athlone man of a murder for which he has spent almost twelve years in jail. John Earle, now 44, was jailed in England in 1998 for the murder of 67-year-old Peter Halliday in Northumberland. The incident gripped the North East of England after the corpse of Halliday was found on a local beach, having been dumped in the North Sea days earlier. But now the sentence could be quashed after the UK's Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referred the case to the Court of Appeal, which will review the new evidence, which follows advances in DNA testing since the original trial
(Source: The Westmeath Independent)


Parts of the Guillemot Lightship have been removed by Wexford County Council on health and safety grounds. The Council sent contractors down to Kilmore Quay last Thursday to make the ship 'safe', by removing parts of it that were considered likely to fall or be blown off by strong winds. Niall McGuigan, Director of Environment Services with Wexford County Council, said they had to make the ship safe as it had become a public health hazard. 'Certain parts of it were damaged. We knew it had become dangerous and couldn't allow it to remain that way,' he said.
(Source: The Wexford People)


Wicklow Town Council will take over the management of the contract to restore the Murrough to its former beauty. The appearance of the scenic area following works on the Wicklow Sewerage Scheme and Port Access Road has caused plenty of local criticism.
(Source: The Wicklow People)