Year sees lowest number of deaths on Irish roads since records began
THE lowest number of people -- 185 -- died on our roads last year since records began 52 years ago.
But road safety chiefs yesterday pleaded with drivers to take care over this bank holiday weekend and if they see an intoxicated person at risk on the road to offer them a lift. Road Safety Authority chairman Gay Byrne said the good news is that road deaths are down on 2010, with indications that the total for 2011 will be below 200 deaths. "That will be a major watershed, especially when you consider that we have gone from being 27th in Europe to the sixth-best in terms of road safety," he said.
Plant workers to escalate dispute
THIRTY workers at the Vita Cortex plant in Cork who have occupied the factory over Christmas have backed a plan to escalate the dispute as it emerged that they may get statutory redundancy payments if their employer does not pay up. The workers were left without redundancy payments when the plant shut on December 16.
Just 24 hours before Christmas, they rejected as "derisory and insulting" an offer from their former employer, Jack Ronan, of €1,500 each. Mr Ronan has insisted redundancy payments are a matter for Nama, which ordered the firm's assets to be frozen because of a €10m loan owing to AIB. Mr Ronan has said €2.5m in one account should be used to settle the €1.2m in outstanding redundancy payments. Nama says funds from one firm in the Vita Cortex group cannot legally be used to settle redundancy payments for another firm in the group.
However, since the company has not submitted evidence of inability to pay, employers claims may be paid from a State fund and the Department of Social Protection can then attempt to recoup the money from the employer.
Winning numbers of €4.16m Lotto
THE numbers in last night's €4,164,479 Lotto draw were 4, 11, 23, 30, 37, 44 (bonus 32).
The Lotto Plus 1 numbers were 9, 30, 33, 34, 43, 44 (bonus 40). The Lotto Plus 2 numbers were 23, 28, 41, 42, 43, 45 (bonus 40).
Vat increase a mistake -- McGrath
The 2 per cent Vat increase will further depress consumer sentiment at a time when the domestic economy is at its weakest point, according to Fianna Fail finance spokesperson Michael McGrath.
"The Government decision to increase the standard rate of Vat by 2 per cent to 23 per cent is a major policy mistake," said Mr McGrath. "At a time when the export sector is facing into its most challenging period for a number of years, it is essential that the domestic economy is given every possible support. Instead, the decision to increase Vat sends out all the wrong signals to consumers and will only serve to further deflate confidence."
McIlroy and Clarke make honours list
Northern Irish golfers Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke have been honoured in the UK New Year honours list.
McIlroy, 22, who became the youngest US Open golf champion for 88 years said he was "delighted" to be honoured with an MBE. Also joining him on this year's list is fellow golfer Darren Clarke, 42, who won the British Open in 2011 and was awarded an OBE.
A total of 55 people from Northern Ireland were awarded honours, among them 92-year-old Robina Parkes, who was awarded an MBE for community fundraising.
RTE reporter Jim Fahy to retire today
Anne Doyle departed from RTE on Christmas Day and today marks the departure of yet another familiar face, western correspondent Jim Fahy. The Galway-based reporter began his career in journalism in 1965 and has been RTE's western correspondent since 1974.
Taoiseach to open Luton Irish centre
AN TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has confirmed he is to perform the official opening of a new Irish centre in Luton, outside London, later this month.
Mr Kenny will perform the opening of the new complex, Kathleen Connolly House, on January 12.
Special care complex gets green light
A major complex, which will include 10 housing units for adults in need of special care, is to be built in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, at a cost of €2m.
The project is the final scheme to receive capital funding from the Government until 2013, it was announced yesterday by Cavan/Monaghan Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan. Sheila Comiskey, chairperson of a voluntary committee which has spearheaded a campaign for the new centre, said they were delighted the project has received the green light. "It is felt it will offer a new lease of life for a number of people in need of special care," she said.
Friends of the Elderly begin campaign
The Friends of the Elderly organisation has launched a campaign to train young people to care for the elderly -- paying them 'community service hours' which could create thousands of part-time jobs and save the State tens of millions a year.
"The HSE Care for the Elderly services are in meltdown, the €1bn budget for 2011 ran out four months into the year, the Government has been drip feeding the sector ever since. It is dysfunctional and chaotic and bankrupt" says spokesman Dermot Kirway.
He says that the average saving to the State of keeping elderly people in their own homes would be €1000 a week per person -- and with half a million people in Ireland over 65 the savings would be considerable.
Father of murder accused arrested
The father of a Turkish man accused of murdering two Co Down women has been arrested. Recep Cetin's father was taken into custody on Thursday night to be questioned about the murders of Marion Graham and Kathy Dinsmore. The two women were stabbed to death last August near Izmir. Recep Cetin was the boyfriend of Shannon Graham, Marion Graham's 15-year-old daughter.
Andrea Roche announces engagement
Former Miss Ireland Andrea Roche officially announced her engagement yesterday. The Dublin based model who comes originally from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, is to marry Rob White, of Killiney, Co Dublin.
Ms Roche was formerly married to PJ Mansfield whose father founded the Citywest complex outside Dublin.
Rape Crisis Centre urges 'keep safe'
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre yesterday urged people to keep safe over the new year.
The Centre said over 1700 people called their 24 hour helpline during Christmas and the new year in 2010. Among the tips for keeping safe are keep your drink in your hand, do not accept a drink from someone you have just met; and trust your instincts. If you have to travel alone make sure you phone ahead while making sure your driver hears you phoning ahead. The Rape Crisis Centre helpline is 1800 77 88 88.
2012 begins warmer than the Med
Ireland began 2012 warmer than the Mediterranean after record-nudging New Year's Eve temperatures. The balmy temperatures -- remarkably beating April's usual 11C days and 4C nights -- swelled crowds celebrating New Year's Eve last night when the temperature was a balmy 9C at midnight. Forecasters said earlier daytime temperatures yesterday peaked at 13C, believed to verge on an Irish record for December 31. Forecasters said today will be fresher at 6C-10C but feel colder in strong winds.