THERE is growing concern both within the Department of Communications and in TV stations RTE and TV3 about the continuing high number of people who are still not prepared for 'the big switch' to digital on October 24.
According to a source in RTE, the figure could be as many as 200,000 people whose screens will go blank in less than two weeks. However, the Department of Communications disputes that figure and says that it is based on Nielsen figures from the end of August.
More recent statistics, compiled by Lansdowne Millward Brown, suggest that the number of those who still haven't made the switch is closer to 100,000 viewers.
Many of these are thought to be elderly people, living in isolated areas who are not aware of the need to install technology or buy a new TV to complete the switchover.
Without either of these, they will be faced with a blank TV screen on October 24. Subscribers to Sky satellite or broadband providers UPC are not affected.
Siptu and Aer Lingus at loggerheads
AS THE public faced the prospect of threatened airport chaos over a pensions dispute, Aer Lingus yesterday accused Siptu of creating a pretext for a strike, which the union would otherwise have great difficulty in justifying to the travelling public, by claiming that talks at the Labour Relations Commission had broken down.
Siptu said the talks had ended in breakdown and disarray, with Aer Lingus refusing to meet directly with unions representing the staff pension committees.
The airline said it was committed to finding a resolution and accused the union of issuing "misleading statements of some apparent breakdown".
Industrial-action committees met this weekend. They are expected to finalise talks tomorrow, when a seven-day strike notice could be issued, targeting specific flights.
No winner of €4m Lotto jackpot
THERE was no winner of last night's €4,056,158 Lotto jackpot. The numbers were 7, 9, 21, 29, 30, 36 (bonus 13).
There was one Match 5+bonus winner who gets €25,000; 56 Match 5s (€1,268); 196 Match 4+bonus (€91); 2,525 Match 4s (€43); 4,034 Match 3+bonus (€18); and 39,680 Match 3s (€5 scratchcard). The Lotto Plus 1 numbers were 2, 5, 28, 33, 36, 38, (bonus 14) and the Lotto Plus 2 numbers were 9, 10, 13, 18, 37, 40 (bonus 31).
In the UK draw for stg£6.4m the numbers were 14, 26, 30, 32, 36, 48 (bonus 15).
Ambulance staff in traffic accident
Two paramedics were involved in a crash on Friday as they returned to their ambulance base in Cork.
They were returning to their ambulance station at Castletownbere when their vehicle struck a pole. The crew suffered minor injuries, while the vehicle was written off.
€6.4m ambulance helicopter crashes
A €6.4m helicopter which crash-landed in a Tipperary field while on an air-ambulance mission is still being examined to see how badly damaged it is -- four months after the accident.
The Air Corps EC-135 helicopter was only 20 minutes into a mission, with two pilots and a HSE paramedic on board, after taking off from Custume Barracks in Athlone.
It was forced to land approaching Borrisoleigh along the Nenagh road in June. The aircraft struck power lines and had to make a "heavy landing" said the Department of Defence. None of those on board were injured.
Gardai investigate fatal road incident
GARDAI are investigating a fatal road traffic incident. The accident happened shortly after 2pm yesterday on the Lower Glanmire Road, Cork.
A motorcyclist died from his injuries after the collision. A large volume of traffic was on the road at the time and gardai appealed for witnesses to come forward to help them piece together the events leading up to the crash.
Man held after suspect device found
A man in his 20s was arrested in Dublin last night after he was found in possession of a suspect device.
Gardai in Tallaght stopped two men walking through the Cushlawn Estate. The men tried to escape on foot, but following a short pursuit, one man was arrested a short distance away. The other man escaped.
The arrested man was in possession of a suspect device. He was arrested and an ordnance disposal unit from the Defence Forces took the device away for examination.
The man was held at Tallaght garda station.
Fines falling for tobacco smugglers
AS the profits from cigarette smuggling by criminal gangs continues to rise, there is concern about a big decrease in the level of fines imposed for those who are caught.
The 'slap on the wrist' fines for smuggling have decreased by an average of 37 per cent in the second quarter of this, year compared with the first three months.
Fines for selling cigarettes on the streets, as opposed to smuggling, dropped 22 per cent between between April and June, compared with the first quarter.
Analysis of the Revenue defaulters list shows that the average fine for smuggling illegal tobacco and cigarettes in the first quarter of this year was €3,022. But in the second quarter of this year, the average fine decreased to €1,875.
Compared with the potential profits, the fines being imposed by the courts are now seen as an occupational hazard by both the smugglers and street dealers.
A car-load of cigarettes carrying 50,000 cigarettes means a profit of €8,700. However, a van with 500,000 cigarettes can mean a bigger payday of €87,000 for the smuggling gangs, while a container holding 7,500,000 cigarettes, means a €1.3m bonanza if sold on the streets.
Acid Jazz boss comes to Sugar Club
Acid Jazz record label boss Eddie Piller is bringing his record box to The Sugar Club in Dublin on Friday November 16 for a late-night stomper.
Special guests are Dublin Afrobeat Ensemble -- a 12-piece musical force drawing on the influence of both the pioneers and modern Afrobeat heavyweights. Doors 11pm (until very late). Tickets are available at www.tickets.ie
Blaze extinguished at recycling centre
DUBLIN Fire Brigade spent almost six hours putting out a fire at the Ballymount Recycling Centre yesterday.
The fire broke out at 12.50am and was extinguished at 6.30am. Five units of Dublin Fire Brigade were involved in putting out the fire. There are no reports of injuries.
David Kelly leaves €380,000 in will
FILM, TV and theatre star David Kelly left €380,275 in his will, which went to probate last week. The actor, of Goatstown Road in Dublin, died on February 12 this year.
Antonio Assaf, a leading Stevedoring Contractor (dock labour employer) with the Nigerian Ports Authority, who died suddenly in his office at 39 Bombay Crescent Apapa, Lagos, on November 28, 2007 left €930,781 in his will, which also went to probate in Dublin.
Mr Assaf was a dogged fighter for dockworkers' welfare and a noted philanthropist. He once wrote: "Let no man write my epitaph until such a time when my 1,300 dockworkers who constitute 1.3 million families are in full occupation and enjoy the basic needs of life they deserve."
Born in 1939 to Irish parents in Lagos, Mr Assaf was chairman of Antonio Assaf & Sons (Stevedoring) Nigeria.
Other wills: Joyce Wolfe, Old Connaught Ave, Bray, €1,203,935; William (Liam) Naughton, farmer, Ahascragh, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, €1,142,020. Mary Palmer, Seafield Close, Blackrock, Dublin, €1,074,641.
The value of wills includes property, including the family home, and should not be regarded as cash amounts