The new Minister for Health has unveiled detailed plans designed to breathe new life into Antrim Area Hospital - and revealed that he is prepared to spend millions to get the service back on its feet.
After years of short-term sticky plaster solutions, Edwin Poots has vowed that his Department will finally diagnose the problems that have left the ailing A&E Department on life support.
Concerns about the strains on Antrim - which was recently compared to pressures at the very height of the Troubles by a top medic - catapulted it to the very top of the political agenda at Stormont last week.
(Source: Antrim Guardian)


It has emerged over the past week that three high-ranking former Provisional IRA men from South Armagh have actively assisted a state enquiry into the deaths of two leading RUC police men. The unprecedented move was made public after the Smithwick Tribunal, established in 2005, had its first hearing of witness evidence after six years of private investigations. The public hearings, which began last Tuesday, aim to establish whether there was Gardaì (police) collusion in the Provisional IRA murders of two senior RUC officers – Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan – near the border in 1989. The legal team for the Tribunal held face-to-face meetings with three former Provisional IRA members in recent weeks, one of whom allegedly had a commanding role in the attack. According to the legal team, the Provisional IRA members gave “detailed accounts” and replied to all questions from the inquiry team.


The Naked Adventurer Keith Whelan has been forced to halt his ambitious bid to sail across the Indian Ocean after sustaining a head injury.
The Athy native, who trained in Carlow before setting out on his challenge to become the youngest Irishman to row across the Indian Ocean, was dogged with bad luck when his boat was hit by a large wave while he slept last Tuesday week.
Keith suffered a laceration to the head and was forced to alert a member of his team in Britain via satellite phone, who then contacted the authorities in Australia.
Keith’s dramatic rescue by the Fujisuka, a Japanese cargo ship, was well documented across the world.
Keith was at sea for just three days before being injured.
Currently, he is still in Australia but is planning his return home soon.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)


Thieves are striking homes and businesses across County Cavan with up to five homes hit in one day last week. The Anglo-Celt can reveal that a total of 17 homes and premises were burgled throughout the county over the past two weeks. Gardaí (police) say that burglars are becoming more daring and brazen in their activities recently by targeting houses in broad daylight. Cash and jewelery are the main focus and Gardaí could not rule out that children are being used in some cases to gain entry to homes through fly windows. One home in Kingscourt had some €5,000 in jewellery stolen; while a gym in Virginia had about €4,500 in goods taken in a break-in last week. Other properties hit in the past fortnight include a supermarket in Cootehill and a farm in Mullagh; while one home in Belturbet was hit while the owners were on holiday.
(Source: The Anglo Celt)


Kilrush Town Council is owed  €186,656 in commercial rates to the end of last year. This figure represents 24% of uncollected rates for 2010.
The town council sought to collect €777,746 of which €591,100 was paid up. The rate collection arrears for 2010 represented an increase of €110,935 on 2009 arrears. Therefore, rate arrears increased by 14% during that 12-month period.
These details were revealed in Kilrush Town Council’s Audited Financial Statement for the year ended December 31, 2010. The report was presented at last Thursday’s monthly meeting. Acting Kilrush town manager, Nora Kaye said, however, that while several business have closed in Kilrush over the last 12 months, almost as many new ventures have started trading.
“It was found that while 11 businesses ceased trading in the last 12 months, 10 new businesses opened up in the town,” Ms Kaye said.
(Source: The Clare Champion)


Cork City Council has committed to spending almost €194m on works in the city over the next three years. Among the works to be completed are the long awaited repair of the Quay Walls near the Mercy Hospital, the development of the Carrigrohane Park and Ride, the development of the Fitzgerald Park/Mardyke Gardens and improvement works to City Hall. The investment is to be spread between now and 2013 with City Manager Tim Lucey saying that all the monies promised are in the Council’s coffers or due to be drawn down through central Government grants. A new library is to be constructed in Mahon while repair works will also occur at the central library on Grand Parade while the Shandon area and Blackrock village will receive significant investment.
Source: (Cork Independent)


A “brutal” attack in Dungiven by a gang wielding bats could have killed the 23-year-old victim, a local councilor has said. The victim, who was hospitalized after the attack, was assaulted outside a bar on Main Street in the town between 2.30am and 3am on June 13. Police say the four assailants, some of whom were armed with bats, made off in a red car and a white Transit van. It is also thought the gang may have used a sledgehammer. “The victim was treated in hospital for wounds to the head,” said a PSNI spokesperson, who appealed to anyone with information to contact them. Sinn Fein councilor in Dungiven, Sean McGlinchey said there is outrage in the community at the incident. “I have visited with the young fella and his injuries are shocking. His whole family is devastated and the whole town is just shocked and disgusted,” he said.
(Source: Derry Journal)


A driver in a stolen car led gardai (police) on an early morning 20 mile, 130kmph car chase in torrential rain passing two schools and racing through a town’s main street forcing cars, pedestrians and gardai out of the way. Details of the frightening high speed chase emerged last week when a court heard the driver lost control of the car during torrential rain and crashed into a ditch. Gardai said the driver swerved from side to side into oncoming traffic as they gave chase and drove through a special checkpoint they had set up to stop him. Martin McClelland with an address at 36 Manorview, Letterkenny, appeared in Letterkenny District Court charged with the unauthorized taking of an MPV, failing to stop for gardai and six counts of dangerous driving across townlands in Fintown, Doochary and Glenties.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)


Plans to build a Tesco supermarket close to a Co Antrim seaside town have suffered a setback after planners recommended against giving the store planning permission. Planners said giving the Leyland Road store the go-ahead would damage the "vitality" of Ballycastle town centre and undermine convenience shopping in the area. While Ballycastle has a Eurospar and Co-op supermarket, it lacks one of the 'big three' supermarket operators. But now the planners have recommended that Moyle Council refuses planning permission for the application. Padraig McShane, an independent councilor in the town, said he was against Tesco getting planning permission for the edge -of-town development. He added: "Consumers in Ballycastle have said they want more choice which I am in support of. "That's why I support a big supermarket being located inside the town centre. But granting this Tesco application would kill the town centre."
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


'Fat' Freddie Thompson's gang superglued a man's eyelids and set him on fire in two shocking torture attacks. The sadistic incidents took place in the Crumlin area after a major drugs raid. The violence was perpetrated after two brothers, who sourced their drugs from Thompson's gang, were blamed for the bust. In shocking incidents -- even by Dublin gangland standards -- the older brother had his testicles set on fire just weeks before the mob superglued his eyelids shut. Shortly after this, the mob carved up a dog owned by a youngster who is friends with the brothers. A source explained that the testicle burning incident happened on a busy street in Crumlin, south Dublin, as teenage thugs connected to ‘Fat’ Freddie’s organization attacked the young man. Senior sources have confirmed that gardai are aware of the campaign of terror that the brothers have endured and an investigation into the attacks has been launched.
(Source: The Evening Hearld)


Glengormley estate agent Stephen Johnson is no stranger to marathon fundraising efforts, but this weekend he is to take the most grueling charity challenge to date - a 70-mile extreme endurance event. The 41-year-old Director of Country Estates travels to the Share Centre in Co Fermanagh on June 25 for ‘70 Wild Miles’ - an energy-sapping test of mental and physical strength during which competitors must cycle 47 miles, then canoe for 10 miles, before running 13 miles to the finish. Stephen, who is undertaking the challenge in support of children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent, has completed a dozen marathons in cities around the world over the past decade, including Belfast, London, New York, Amsterdam and Paris. Running each of the 26.2 mile races in aid of various cancer charities, he has already raised more than £20,000 for good causes. “I’ve been training for it since January. I’ve been trying to get out running most lunchtimes and at weekends, and have been canoeing at Lough Neagh and the River Maine. I’ve been cycling when I’ve got the chance, so I should be well prepared,” he said.


The Galway Society of Prevention Cruelty to Animals is urging people to neuter their pets as the only solution to prevent kittens and puppies being left to die in tragic circumstances. Last Monday, a four-week old kitten was shoved through the letterbox of their headquarters on St. Augustine Street at 9:45am. “We’re used to getting boxes of kittens and puppies and bags of clothes with animals, but this is the first time we’ve had one pushed through the letterbox. We recently received a gear bag with clothes on the bottom, four kittens in the middle and clothes on top and it was by pure chance that it was opened,” says Margaret O’Sullivan of the GSPCA. “Neutering animals is the only solution to stop this madness. We’re overloaded and we can barely cope with the kittens and puppies we do find. Quite a lot of them are left in woods and at the side of roads and die horrible, slow deaths.
(Source: GalwayBay Fm)


A house in Co Kerry has recorded concentrations of the cancer-causing radioactive gas radon at some of the highest levels ever found in Europe, according to the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. The house, in the Castleisland area, has an average radon concentration of 37,000 becquerels per cubic metre (Bq/m3), 185 times the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3) for the gas. In 2003, another house a few kilometers away recorded the highest reading for Ireland of 49,000 Bq/3), 185 times the acceptable level of 200 Bq/m3) for the gas. Radon occurs naturally from the decay of uranium in rocks and soils. Although it dilutes quickly outdoors in an enclosed space, the class-1 carcinogen can accumulate to high concentrations and increase the risk of lung cancer.
(Source: Irish Times)


A possible tiger kidnapping or other major crime was foiled last weekend when gardaí (police) swooped on five men in Kill as part of a major investigation into organized crime. The arrest involved members of An Garda Siochána attached to the organized crime unit based in Harcourt Sq, assisted by the emergency response unit. They stopped two cars in Kill at around 1am on 12 June in the general area of the village, though gardaí will not give a specific location. Gardaí searched the two vehicles and discovered two firearms. The five men occupying the cars were arrested, split up and brought to Clondalkin and Ballyfermot garda stations. At the time of going to print, they were being detained under the provisions of Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939. The five men are all in their 30s. Gardaí are on alert in Kildare after a series of ‘tiger kidnappings’ took place in the county in the space of a few weeks.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)


A 39 year old man who arrived in Kilkenny Garda (police) station demanding that they give him somewhere to stay for the night has been fined 100 euro. Francis Tobin, a part time musician with an address at 136 Burrin Manor, Tullow Road, Carlow arrived at Kilkenny Garda station on May 1 and told Gardai that it was their duty to provide him with some place to stay because it was cold. Solicitor, Michael Lanigan said that Mr Tobin had been playing a gig on the night in question and had consumed a number of drinks after the performance and found himself with nowhere to stay. He had made his way to the Garda station in the hope of securing a bed.
(Source: Kilkenny People)


A government TD and Seantor have angrily hit back at claims by Fianna Fail TD, Sean Fleming that up to 650 public service jobs in Portlaoise are to go over the next four years. Deputy Fleming who is the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Sector Reform, said jobs would be lost through the non-replacement of staff who retire or leave their position. However, both Charlie Flanagan TD and Seantor John Whelan rejected the claims saying he had plucked the figures from thin air and was playing politics with lives. But Dep Fleming described as “shocking” the reduction in the number of public servants promised over the lifetime of the Government. “The figures announced by Minister Brendan Howlin that 41,400 public servants will have left the public service by the end of 2015 are higher than anyone could have expected.”
(Source: Leinster Express)


Just six months ago Co Leitrim was being roundly criticized for its high number of ‘ghost estates’, however, despite this, the County has been ignored in the first round of funding announced to deal with unfinished estates. Last week the Minister for Housing and Planning, Willie Penrose, announced the creation of a national committee to deal with the problem of unfinished estates after the release of the latest Government report on the problem. Following this he announced the first allocation of €1.5m of a total €5m fund aimed at making safe problematic housing estates. According to the Government this funding will eventually be recouped from the developers and site owners.
(Source: Leitrim Observer)


A third of students attending Limerick Institute of Technology have smoked cannabis in the last year a recently published survey has found. 1,000 questionnaires were distributed to students attending the Moylish campus as part of the survey, which was conducted by a number of academics who are attached to Limerick Institute of Technology, University of Limerick and University College Cork. Just over three quarters of the students responded to the survey, details of which has been published in the Irish Medical Journal. The study found that 33.2% of respondents admitted using cannabis during the previous 12 months and a fifth of those surveyed admitted using the drug on at least three occasions during the same time period. While less than 1% of those surveyed said they had used heroin during the previous year, more than 12% said they had used ecstacy and 13% stated they had used cocaine.
(Source: Limerick Leader)


A Longford teenager was last week hailed a hero after he dived into the river Shannon to save a drowning man. Fourteen-year-old Lanesboro student, Eugene Maguire courageously jumped into the river on Friday week (June 3) to rescue the man, who had gotten into difficulties while out swimming. Eugene, who was with a group of friends on the Co Roscommon side of the river, told of how he suddenly heard shouts of ‘help’ from a man who was trying to make it safely back to shore. “We saw that he was trying to cross one side of the river to the other, but then he started shouting. We were in a bit of shock at first, but I just shouted to my friends that I would jump in,” he said. As Eugene desperately tried to reach the struggling swimmer, he managed to grab hold of a life buoy before hurling it out to the man who was battling to stay afloat. “I swam out about 50 meters, got the buoy and threw it out to him,” he revealed. Gasping for breath Eugene brought the man to safety. “He said he had got cramp and was lying on his back for a good five minutes trying to breathe when we got him in,” said the second year student. “I’d say he was about 19 or 20 (years old).”
(Source: Longford Leader)


A local couple cheated death recently when the car they were traveling in jacknifed on the M1 motorway sending them head first into a barrier. Karen Doherty and her boyfriend Mark Cumiskey had been planning a caravan trip to Wicklow for the June Bank Holiday weekend and had just set out on their journey when the potentially fatal accident happened. Speaking to The Dundalk Democrat about her brush with death, 23-year-old Karen – from Glenwood - admitted she was still slightly shakened by what happened. She said: “We were heading down the motorway last Friday and we had a bad accident with the caravan. The driver side wheel on the caravan had a blow out, it completely jackknifed and it fired head first into the barrier on the hard shoulder. “We were very lucky the caravan unhitched or else we could have been dragged over the barrier down a steep hill.”
(Source: Dundalk Democrat)


All the gardaí (police) at the centre of the ‘Corrib rape tape’ debacle have now been interviewed by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), it has emerged. The chairman of the garda watchdog, Dermot Gallagher, also confirmed last week that the videotape – in which officers were inadvertently recorded joking about raping a female Corrib protestor  – has been sent out of the jurisdiction for forensic analysis to confirm its authenticity. Mr Gallagher said he expected the investigation – opened by the GSOC ‘in the public interest’ – to be completed by the end of the summer.
(Source: The Mayo News)


A cash-in-transit robbery in Ashbourne last week saw an armed gang of three get away with over €25,000 in cash in seconds. The brazen high-speed daylight raid took place just after midday - at exactly 12.06pm, according to CCTV - when the driver of an armoured cash-in-transit van was collecting money from the Ashbourne Topaz service station at Cookstown. A security guard, who had parked close to the entrance of the station, was leaving with a strong-box of takings and walking towards his van when he was threatened with a hammer by one of the raiders. The guard dropped the box and it was snatched by the thug who immediately ran to his own getaway vehicle, where two fellow gang members were waiting - one in the driving seat and one sitting in the rear of a green Seat Inca keeping watch. The three got away with around €25,500 from the attack. Thankfully, the security guard suffered no injuries.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)


A super-sized Ulster family have declared the arrival of their 11th child will be their last. Delighted mother Edel Maher and husband Paul, from Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, said they took it as a sign after Sadhbh Bernie arrived on June 16, 2011 – the date of their 11th wedding anniversary. “We are taking it as an omen. Our 11th child arrived on the day of our 11th wedding anniversary. It is divine intervention saying stop,” said Paul. The little girl, who weighed in at 10lb 2oz at 3.48am last Thursday, will be a sister for Aisling (3) who has been surrounded by a band of brothers. On their first day home with their new arrival Paul, a Dublin Airport police officer, said they had given her the second name of Bernie after Edel's aunt who died a few days ago after a brief illness. “We used to have a little ‘return home' routine where the new baby would buy something small for everyone. After a certain number, that went out the window. It became like little Christmas,” he said.
(Source: Belfast Telegraph)


Offaly Senior Hurling management and players have hit out at the situation that arose last Saturday week in O’Connor Park in a letter which claims they were forced to call off training due to the treatment of the side at the venue The incident seems to stem from the fact that the much publicized Centra Hurling Skills Tour also visited O’Connor Park on the Saturday and was ongoing when the Offaly team and management arrived. As a result of this treatment, the letter claims that they ‘had no other choice but to call off training’. It further claims that it ‘has been an ongoing issue all year’ although no other specific incidents are outlined. The letter also claims that the panel ‘are not wanted in O’Connor Park’ adding that every reason seems to be used to keep them ‘out of the pitch or off the pitch during training sessions’. The letter then goes on to highlight the commitment given by players outlining distances travelled, the conditions endured in training since last December, the injuries picked up, surgeries required and the fact that players missed work due to these injuries.
(Source: Offaly Express)


Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa in Co. Roscommon has been nominated in the ‘Best Style Category’ in the Irish Tatler Spa Awards. The Irish Tatler Spa Awards, sponsored by Dove, are now in their third year and recognize exceptional service and treatments in spas around the country. Categories include Best Overall Spa, Best Therapist, Best Treatment, Best Service and Best Style. Commenting on the nomination, Olivia Gaffney, Sales and Marketing Manager of Kilronan Castle Estate and Spa said: “To be nominated in the ‘Best Style’ category in the Irish Tatler Spa Awards is a fantastic honr, especially when we were nominated by the general public.  “We take great pride in our spa here at Kilronan and it is one of the most popular amenities at the hotel. We aim to provide all of our guests with a luxurious spa experience that offers premium spa treatments and a relaxing ambience and this nomination is a real vote of confidence in our team who work in the spa. ”
(Source: The Roscommon Champion)


At Sligo Circuit Court, Judge Anthony Kennedy approved a settlement of €10,000 plus costs in a case in which a father sued after his young child was injured when a car driven by the child's mother was in collision with a wall. Aaron Flaherty, a minor born in October 2008, sued by his father and next friend, Thomas Flaherty, St. Brigid's Place, Sligo, in a claim against Haznah Flaherty, also of St. Brigid's Place, Sligo. The plaintiff was represented by Mr. David Gilvarry, B.L., instructed by Mr. Gerard McGovern, Solicitor. It was claimed that on or about September 6th 2010 on the public highway at or near Lake Isle Road/Connaughton Road, Sligo, a motor vehicle the property of and being driven by the defendant was "driven out of control and into collision with a wall" as a result of which the minor plaintiff, who was lawfully travelling as a rear seat passenger in his infant seat, suffered personal injuries, loss and damage.
(Source: The Sligo Champion)


A controversial bid to build an international standard 'Las Vegas-style' sports and leisure complex in Co Tipperary has been granted planning permission. An Bord Pleanála has given the go-ahead for the construction of the massive construction project that is expected to cost €460m and be built on an 800-acre location in Co Tipperary. It will be close to the village of Two-Mile-Borris, will include a 500-bedroom, five-star hotel; a 6,000sq m casino; an all-weather racecourse; a greyhound track and a golf course. The site, which is located off the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway, will also feature a full-size replica of the White House in Washington, which will be used as a banqueting facility and to host wedding receptions. However, the planning permission for a 15,000-capacity underground entertainment centre was refused by An Bord Pleanála as it was deemed "inappropriate" given the location. North Tipperary County Council granted planning permission for the project last year but the case was appealed to the board by some local residents and An Taisce after concerns were raised over the level of traffic which would be generated by the venue, along with noise, carbon emissions, helicopter use, its distance from public transport and the sustainability of such a large-scale development.


A court has heard it would have been reasonable for the soldiers who shot four IRA men in 1992 to have believed the gang had just killed RUC officers. The soldiers killed the four IRA men in Clonoe, County Tyrone, after the gang had carried out a machinegun attack on Coalisland police station. Another man who was shot and injured is suing the MoD. A US defense expert told the high court the soldiers would have been unaware no RUC officers had been killed. William Hays Parks, who was called as an expert witness for the defense, told the high court it was reasonable to suspect fatalities given the "lethality" of the assault on the Coalisland base
(Source: BBC News)


A reward of €1,000 has been offered for information on a herd of wild goats stolen from rocky outcrops near a Co Waterford village. About 20 animals have been reported missing from Passage East, where a wild herd is said to have grazed for more than 200 years. The goats disappeared from the hills surrounding Passage East, a fishing village on the banks of the river Suir, during the night some weeks ago. It is understood that just eight goats, one puck and seven kids, remain. Gardaí (police) are investigating a report the goats were rounded up by sheepdogs and then loaded on to a vehicle before being taken to Co Clare.
(Source: Irish Times)


Swedish technology and telecoms firm Ericsson is to create 100 software engineering jobs at its facility in Athlone, Co Westmeath. The jobs have been added to Ericsson’s presence in the town in order to boost the company’s research and development activities. Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton described Ericsson’s strengthening of its RD activities in Ireland as “a great vote of confidence” in Government policies and signalled that new incentives were on the way.“I am currently developing plans to further enhance our support for multinational RD investments, and to ensure that Irish firms can learn from the vast experience in this area to create the companies of the future here,” the Minister said.
(Source: Irish Times)


The Irish Seal Sanctuary, which has been rescuing distressed seal pups for more than 20 years, has been “locked out” of its main facility in Courtown, Co Wexford, following a dispute with its landlord, according to founder and co-director Brendan Price. Three members of staff have had to be laid off as a result, he added, and the charity is without a headquarters as the seal-rescue season begins in earnest. Early June traditionally marks the start of the season, as summer power-boating and water sports disturb waters and seal pups become separated from their mothers. When separated pups are found they are helpless, said Mr Price. They have to be hand-reared for about six weeks before they can be reintroduced to the water. The dispute with landlords Gorey-Courtown Forest Park, which had been going on for several months, had “come to a head” and the sanctuary has been forced to pull out of any partnership, he said. Seal pups would now have to be transferred to smaller facilities in Dingle, Co Kerry; Portaferry, Co Down; and to Cornwall.
(Source: The Irish Times)


An army bomb disposal unit 'made safe' two viable devices in Bray on Friday night. Gardaí (police) are mounting an investigation following the discovery of two explosive devices at a location just south of Dublin. The Defense Forces have confirmed that two devices discovered at Ballywaltrim Heights in Bray, Co Wicklow, Friday night were viable improvised explosive devices (IEDs). An army bomb disposal team arroved on the scene just before midnight and the scene was declared safe at 1am on Saturday morning. According to Defense Forces, the devices were removed to a military installation where further examinations are being carried out.