More young lives will be senselessly lost if urgent steps are not taken to halt the deadly solvent abuse craze that is sweeping Antrim, a school governor has claimed.

Solvent abuse has already been linked to one death in Antrim this year, but Councilor Adrian Watson fears that many more teenagers are risking “an early grave in their pursuit of cheap kicks.”

There is disturbing evidence that young thrill-seekers are buying deodorants and other aerosol products in bulk in order to inhale the butane – even though they are effectively playing Russian roulette with their own lives.
[Source: Antrim Guardian]


Two brothers have appeared in court in the Republic of Ireland facing extradition for a double murder in Tassagh, near Keady six years ago.

A County Armagh couple – Thomas O’Hare and Lisa McClatchey – was beaten with hammers and doused in petrol before being set on fire, in a vicious attack. The couple were seriously injured and died later in hospital.

Police arrested the brothers, Niall and Martin Smith, in County Louth and County Dublin Wednesday morning, December 12, and detained them using European arrest warrants before bringing the pair before the High Court in Dublin.
 [Source: Examiner Newspaper]


A post-office manager who stole $2.3 million from his employer to fund his gambling habit has been jailed for three years.

Tony O'Reilly, of 10 Sandhills, Hacketstown Road, Carlow, stole the money from his post office over a 14-month period.

And bookmakers Paddy Power valued his custom so much they took him on lavish, all-expense paid trips to the Europa Cup Final in the Aviva Stadium and the Irish Derby at the Curragh.
[Source: Irish Independent]


Jailed local businessman Sean Quinn can spend three days and nights with his family over the Christmas period after he was granted temporary release from prison last Thursday evening.

It is understood the decision was made following discussions between the Attorney General, the Prison Service and the Minister for Justice. The 66-year-old will be released on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day.
[Source: The Anglo Celt]


Clare’s court poor box has netted over $40,000 for charity organizations across the county, more than double the figure gathered last year.

The county’s district court judge, Patrick Durcan, dispensed the proceeds of the district court poor box last week, which totaled $40,300, a dramatic increase on the $19,000 collected in 2011.
In 2010 the poor box took in just $13,200, while $17,025 was made in donations in 2009. In 2008 it netted $34,000 for local charities. A total of 27 charities have benefited from the court poor box this year, including a number that had not benefited previously.
[Source: Clare Champion]


Counterfeit €50 notes were being passed in Kinsale two weekends ago, and Gardaí (police) in the town are warning retailers to be vigilant.

Stone Mad Gallery in Kinsale found that they had accepted a fake €50 note on Saturday from a man who bought an item worth €12 ($16).

Gardaí in Kinsale are “following a definite line of enquiry,” according to a spokesperson.

Owner Jill Brennan praised the reaction of Kinsale Gardaí for their thoroughness and fast reactions.
[Source: Cork Independent]


An I.T. student who had 195 pornographic photographs and movies of children aged from seven to 14 years was sentenced at Derry Crown Court on Friday.

Brendan Murphy (23) was a student at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus, when his housemates discovered the images on his laptop computer and reported the matter to police, the court heard last Tuesday.

The student from Meadowlands Avenue in Warrenpoint, County Down, admitted 22 charges of possessing the indecent images of children and a further charge of possessing an extreme pornographic image depicting bestiality. The offences took place between December 2009 and March 2010.
[Source: Derry Journal]


A former worker at a community development group is staging a sit-in at the premises.

Anne McGowan, a project coordinator with Atlantic View C.D.P. in Ballyshannon, lost her job when the organization closed down on November 29. She had worked there for more than 11 years.

Last Wednesday morning, she locked herself into the office, insisting that she will not budge until she receives the redundancy payment she believes she is entitled to.

“This is not the kind of thing anyone wants to do, least of all at this time of year. I will stay here as long as it takes, right through Christmas if needs be,” she told the Donegal Democrat.
[Source: Donegal Democrat]


A local press photographer and his family are recovering from a terrifying ordeal following the discovery of a pipe bomb at their Mayobridge home Friday, December 14.

Mark Pearce and his family were awakened by police shortly after midnight on Friday at their home in Carraig Crosain, Mayobridge. Acting on an anonymous telephone tip received just minutes earlier, P.S.N.I. officers arrived at the scene, battering on the rear door of the house in their efforts to waken the family and evacuate them from their home.

Mr. Pearce grabbed his partner and two children, aged 12 and 14, and escaped out the back of the house, passing by the pipe bomb that had been set against the front door of the home.
[Source: Examiner Newspaper]


An $8 million “ghost” railway station in Dublin will not open next year as expected – because an access road has been delayed.

The state-of-the-art building in west Dublin was completed in 2009 but has remained idle, much to the frustration of commuters in the locality.

Iarnrod Eireann says it can't open Kishogue station, near Clondalkin, on the Kildare line from Heuston to Hazelhatch, because the road is not in place.
[Source: Evening Herald]


With a total of 13 people thought to have taken their own lives in the past year, mental health professionals have warned people to be especially vigilant over Christmas – the time of year when, statistically, suicidal people can be most vulnerable.

Figures just released by the Samaritans in Northern Ireland show some worrying trends, including much more concerns about money and family than in other parts of the U.K., and they reveal that only 27 percent of those who had worries this year would choose to talk about their problems, the lowest figure in the U.K.

Volunteers in the Omagh-based Samaritans Centre cater for Fermanagh and Tyrone and are on call 24/7.

On average, they deal with 17,000 calls a year, from face to face, to emails and texted messages.
[Source: Fermanagh Herald]


A Romanian man was sentenced to five years in prison last Wednesday for withholding information during a Garda (police) investigation into the murder of Oughterard publican and teacher, John Kenny, in his pub last year.

Florin Fitzpatrick (38), a Romanian national, whose Romanian surname is Buracuic, had denied withholding information between September 25-28 last year, which might have been of assistance in the apprehension of people involved in Mr. Kenny’s death, which occurred on September 25, 2011 at his pub on Main Street, Oughterard.

A jury took just under three hours to return a unanimous guilty verdict following a three-week trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court in November and the matter was adjourned to last Wednesday for sentence.
[Source: Galway Bay FM]


They carried him down and laid him to rest at the foot of Mount Eagle, on the edge of his home village beside the Atlantic sea.

Back on the outside again, near the corner, in the green and gold. Number five, of course. Páidí Ó Sé, forever now on the wing.

“May the Ventry sod rest lightly on this noble warrior.”

After a day of many words – never scarce in the west Kerry Gaeltacht – those final ones lingered in the little graveyard. The Ó Sé family, heartbroken, stood together for their final public farewell to Páidí. The crowd held back to give them their space.
[Source: Irish Times]


A total of 150 jobs are to be created with the establishment of a new manufacturing plant in Leixlip, County Kildare, it has been announced.

The jobs will be created by MGS.Mfg, a provider of engineered manufacturing solutions to the plastics industry.

The company is to invest more than $12 million over three years in a 150 person manufacturing facility in an existing 45,000 sq. feet building on the Hewlett Packard Campus in Leixlip.
[Source: Kildare Nationalist]


Kilkenny star Henry Shefflin is facing surgery again and he is not sure when he might be able to resume his inter-county hurling career.

The Ballyhale Shamrocks man picked up an ankle injury in the recent Leinster club game against Oulart-the-Ballagh (Wexford), but the full extent of the problem was only diagnosed during the last few days.

There is a bone broken in the ankle, and also ligament damage, and the nine-time All-Ireland medal winner faces surgery a few days after Christmas. Shefflin will be in plaster of Paris for weeks, and after that he faces another stint of rehabilitation work.
[Source: Kilkenny People]


A Portarlington man convicted of assaulting his sister-in-law allegedly threatened to kill the woman before pelting her with rubble, following what was described as “a history of aggression and intimidation.”

At court two weeks ago, Patrick Behan (60), with an address listed at Tierhogar, Portarlington, was charged with assault at Tierhogar on December 27, 2011.

Inspector Martin Harrington gave evidence that the Gardaí (police) were called to a dispute between the defendant and his sister-in-law involving a right of way between their two properties. The inspector said that Behan pushed the woman to the ground, but since then the issue has been settled.
[Source: Leinster Express]


One of the 27 victims of the horrific shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, has a local connection to Dromahair.

Seven-year-old Daniel Barden, who was shot dead in the massacre, is a grandchild of Martin Giblin from Lisgorman, Dromahair. While 90-year-old Martin Giblin currently resides in Florida, relatives still live around Killargue, as well as in Sligo and Donegal. The news has had a shocking effect on family members who reside locally, as they are devastated by the tragic news.

“A constant source of laughter and joy,” Daniel Barden was born on the September 27, 2005 to parents Jacqueline (née Giblin) and Mark Barden. Jacqueline is one of 10 children born in New York to Dromahair’s Martin Giblin and Madeline McDonnell (originally from Newry, County Down, who died in 2005). Daniel was the youngest of three children; his siblings are James Barden (12) and Natalie Barden (11).
[Source: Leitrim Observer]


Limerick’s city councilors made history last Wednesday night by voting through the largest commercial rate cut in the history of the State.

City manager Conn Murray proposed the charge for businesses be reduced to $0.94 per rate of valuation, a cut of five percent.

Late on Wednesday night, councilors voted the budget through for 2013, which contains $4 million of spending cuts.

While many members praised the decision to cut the rate, a number of members expressed concern over the $800,000 reduction in spend on housing projects.
[Source: Limerick Leader]


A man charged in relation to a fatal road traffic accident was remanded on bail at a special sitting of Longford District Court last Tuesday.

Gintautas Ambrosevicius (43) of 5 Silver Roe, Boyle, Roscommon was charged with driving in a manner that was dangerous to the public at Mollologher, Longford on December 13, 2011.

In the three-vehicle accident, a 45-year-old man died and two other men, aged in their 20s and 40s, were seriously injured and taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar.
[Source: Longford Leader]


There was a lucky escape for a young child on Sunday, when he fell from an escalator in the Marshes shopping centre. The young boy got into trouble at around 2:30 p.m. in the Penney’s department store, when he was playing on the upward-moving escalator.

The boy fell approximately 10 feet. Shoppers and his concerned mother rushed to his aid after the incident.

The emergency services were called to the scene where they treated the boy. The Democrat was told that the emergency services brought the boy to the Our Lady of Lourdes, though his condition was described as non-life threatening.
[Source: Dundalk Democrat]


The people of Achill received some good news ahead of Christmas as a new company announced the creation of up to 150 jobs following the opening of a call centre.

The Mayo News has learned that Sattelco Communications U.K. Ltd., a telecom and broadcasting company, have chosen to locate their customer service call centre in Achill, which will provide technical and sales support for the U.K. and Irish market.

The new company will provide broadcasting, telephone and broadband services and is to launch its mobile phone service – Pulse Mobile – in the U.K. and Ireland at the end of the first quarter of 2013 and its Cable TV service at the end of the third quarter.
[Source: The Mayo News]


People from County Meath spent $40,955.70 last Christmas on gifts for the world's poorest people according to overseas development agency, Trócaire. The charity thanked Co. Meath for remembering families in need overseas when planning their Christmas shopping, as it launched its 2012 Christmas gift range.

Justin Kilcullen, Executive Director of Trócaire said: "Last year the people of Meath added chickens, goats, school fees and other unusual items to their Christmas shopping lists to support people struggling to survive in developing countries. We are incredibly grateful for this tremendous goodwill and thank everyone from Meath for the massive difference they are making to so many lives.

"By kindly buying our ethical gifts, people in Meath are creating real turning points for families living as far away as Somalia and Zimbabwe. Money earned by simply breeding chickens for example, helps parents earn enough to give their children an education, and with that, opportunities for the future."
[Source: Meath Chronicle]


Declan Kidney’s Six Nations ambitions suffered a significant blow last Thursday with confirmation that Tommy Bowe will miss the entire tournament after undergoing knee surgery.

However, there was some relief with Brian O’Driscoll’s assertion earlier in the day that he was still hopeful of a mid-to-late January return following his own bout of surgery last month.

Bowe’s bombshell is all the more disappointing given the Ulster wing tweeted the initial prognosis was not as bad as first feared after he was stretchered off during the province’s Heineken Cup defeat on Friday, December 14.

In a statement released last Thursday, Ulster said that, though the surgery had been successful, it is expected the Monaghan man will miss four months after sustaining significant lateral ligament damage to his right knee.
[Source: Irish Examiner]


The announcement of a grant scheme for homeowners whose septic tanks need replacement or upgrade has been welcomed by local opposition T.D.s.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen has welcomed the announcement describing it as a “small step in the right direction.” Deputy Cowen said it is now important that the National Inspection Plan be published as soon as possible.

“It will come as a relief to the nearly half a million septic tank owners across the country that Minister Hogan has finally realised that his legislation was unfair. I am glad that he has now caved into pressure and agreed to provide a grant to help with some of the cost of upgrades. While this is a step in the right direction, it is disappointing that the Minister has capped the grant at [$5,280].”
[Source: Offaly Express]


The organizer of a Roscommon Town teenage disco has “apologized sincerely” to parents who have expressed outrage at their children posing for pictures with semi-naked models, which were uploaded to the internet.

Almost 500 teenagers attended a Christmas party disco on December 14, which was organized by Sonic Ents, a County Roscommon-based company. At the event, two scantily-dressed females and a male posed for photographs with the teens. More than 500 photographs were later uploaded to the company’s Facebook page.

A spokesperson for the events company explained that the disco was aimed at teenagers from 14 years of age up to the age of 18, but accepted that younger people may have gained entry.
[Source: Roscommon Herald]


A Judge told Sligo District Court he was getting tired of the same man coming before the courts.

Patrick Sweeney, of Rathbraughan Park, admitted a new charge of stealing a crate of Bulmers and another two crates of Miller valued at $56.72 from House and Garden, Pearse Road on May 25.

Inspector Sean McGinty told the court Gardai (police) were also investigating an incident where windows of a car had been broken recently – allegedly by the defendant.

Sweeney told the court he was getting treatment.

Judge Kilrane said he was getting tired of the defendant and his excuses.
[Source: Sligo Champion]


Local girl Roseanne de Vere Hunt of the well-known Cashel family of de Vere Hunts, has made a prestigious move up the career ladder this month.

A senior country property negotiator, Roseanne has been promoted to associate director and joins the Country Property Department Board at the global independent property consultants Knight Frank, formerly Ganly Walters, in Dublin.

She will direct business in the country department where she specializes in sales of fine period country houses and estates, both sporting and agricultural, throughout Ireland.
[Source: Tipperary Star]


Workers of the Bacon Factory in Cookstown received the perfect Christmas present last week with news that a new buyer has been lined up for the local plant.

Dutch-based food producer VION has told the Courier it has reached an agreement for a management buy-out of its U.K. pork operations, including the Molesworth Road factory employing 700, subject to Competition Authority approval in Ireland.

The deal, led by Seamus Carr, managing director of VION's Pork Business Unit, is backed by U.K. private equity firm Endless, which has a strong track record of investing in companies in the U.K. across a wide range of sectors.
[Source: Tyrone Courier]


The Waterford Crystal ball that will drop in New York City's Times Square to usher in 2013 will have 288 new crystal panels with doves chiseled into them to mark the theme “Let There Be Peace.”

The triangular panels replace 288 old ones on the 2,668-panel ball.

The Irish crystal company said that organizers are doing something special this year, and people are invited to send in their personal messages of peace via social media.
[Source: Irish Examiner]


A fourth person was arrested last Tuesday in connection with an arson attack on a local auctioneering business last September.

The incident occurred at the premises of Shine & Dunning, in Castlemaine Street, Athlone shortly before midnight on Wednesday, September 26.

The latest person to be arrested, a man in his 40s, was detained for questioning under the provisions of Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act. He can be held for up to 48 hours by Gardaí (police).

This is the fourth arrest in the case to date. Three weeks ago, three men were arrested but later released without charge. A file will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution (D.P.P.) in relation to the trio.
[Source: Westmeath Independent]


A public toilet located at the bottom of Castle Hill at the Abbey Square has been scrapped after 20 years, due to costing the Town Council a staggering $22-24,000 a year.

The council decided to get rid of the Portaloo about two years ago, engaging in discussions over that period and informing operators J.C. Decaux well in advance.

Town Clerk Padraig O’Gorman said that the toilet had been “costing too much as it doesn’t bring in a great amount,” estimating that its annual takings were just roughly $1,300 a year.
[Source: Wexford Echo]


A church in Wicklow has been damaged extensively as a result of smoke and water damage following a fire last Thursday.

The blaze happened at St. Patrick’s Church in the centre of Wicklow Town.

The fire began near the Christmas crib at around 2 p.m.

It is understood that there is serious but localised fire damage in the area where the fire began but the remainder of the church has been badly damaged by smoke and water.

It is not yet known how the fire began but Gardaí (police) believe it may have been started maliciously.
[Source: RTE News]


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