THE United Nations called on the Vatican to investigate the Magdalene laundries to allow for the prosecution of those who carried out abuse within the institutions.
In a damming report on the Vatican's response to abuse, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said the Church had failed to take the necessary measures to "ensure justice for girls arbitrarily placed by their families, State institutions and churches in the Magdalene laundries."
The committee called on the Church to launch a full and thorough investigation to ensure that those responsible for abuse were sanctioned and reported to the relevant authorities. It said this would pave the way for victims and their families to be compensated either through the congregations of the Holy See.
THE debate over homophobia took a dramatic twist in the Dail after gay Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer described how he was "beaten, spat at, chased, harassed and mocked because of who I am."
In an impassioned speech, Deputy Buttimer said he had spent most of his life "struggling ... in my country that I love" as he and other TDs expressed concerns over the controversial €85,000 settlement paid out by RTE over on-air comments about homophobia.
The issue was raised by six TDs, with Deputy Buttimer saying the acceptance and support of his Leinster House colleagues was "a demonstration of how this society has moved forward."
"However, I will not, in a tolerant, respectful debate, allow people who spout hatred and intolerance to be let go unchecked," he said.
Labour TD John Lyons also joined the debate saying "there are two people in here at the moment who know what homophobia feels like, who know what it's like to be called a queer, to be called a fag, to be called a gay."
'Take Me To Church' went viral following its release, reaching the top of the Irish iTunes singles chart and number two in the official chart.
Hozier was quoted at evens to win the prestigious award, with the Original Rudeboys single 'Never Gonna Walk Away' quoted at 5/2, Kodaline's 'Brand New Day' at 4/1 and Two Door Cinema Club at 11/2 with their single 'Changing of the Seasons'.
Other contenders include The Strypes' 'You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover (6/1), Villagers' 'Nothing Arrived' (10/1) , Daithi's 'Chameleon' (14/1) and James Vincent McMorrow's 'Cavalier' (16/).
THE developer of 'Flappy Bird', the most popular free mobile game in the world, followed through on a pledge to remove it from the Apple App and Google Play stores.
Announcing the grounding of the addictive game in a tweet, Hanoi-base game developer Nguyen Ha Dong, apologised to Flappy Bird players around the world.
"It's not anything related with legal issues. I cannot take this anymore," he tweeted.
In a previous interview Dong said the game, inspired by Nintendo's Mario Bros, had been earning an average of $50,000 a day from advertising.
To prove the old 'every cloud has a silver lining' adage, phones and tablets that already had the game downloaded were reportedly being subsequently sold on internet auction sites for thousands of dollars.
SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton said her department was making every effort to protect staff in social welfare offices after it emerged 200 serious incidents were logged by staff over a two-year period.
These included death threats to staff, assaults on clients, knife attacks, bullets sent in the post and an alleged sexual assault.
Ms Bruton told the Irish Examiner her department had increased security and surveillance in some welfare offices.
"As we convert each office, where it is appropriate, we are installing things like panic buttons. What we have done is design these offices in a way where there is any threat to an individual, they are in a position to either leave the office or get other staff to assist them," said Ms Bruton.
HOMEOWNERS will not find out how high their water charges will be until August - despite reassurances from the Taoiseach that the rates would be revealed before the May local elections.
Energy regulator Paul McGowan, who will also regulate water charges, said indicative costs would be published in June for public consultation, with the final figure available two months later.
Addressing the Oireachtas Committee Mr McGowan set out a timeframe for the roll out, which will be published in April "around the structure of water charges, without indentifying levels that will be charged."
Asked when households could expect to know how much they will be expected to pay when water charges are introduced in 2015, Mr McGowan said that decision would not be published until August.
However, speaking less than an hour later in the Dail, the Taoiseach said "there would not be a play-out to allow this thing to happen beyond the local and European elections."
"I'm not talking about 48 hours, (before the elections), it will be a couple of weeks beforehand," he said.
WORKS to repair one of Cork's most famous landmarks, the clock on Shandon church (left), is set to get underway within a matter of weeks.
City manager Tim Lucey confirmed the tendering process for repairs to the stalled clock on Shandon Steeple, dubbed the 'four faced liar' will begin shortly.
Mr Lucey said it was hoped to appoint a clock repair company in early March, five months after the Shandon clock's mechanism ground to a halt.
"The work continues to be addressed as a high priority and we aim to have the Shandon clock back in action immediately after the repair works are completed," said Mr Lucey.
An engineer from John Smith and Sons Ireland advised the council that major works would be needed to prevent the clock from stalling again. It is not as yet clear how much the repairs will costs or where the funding to pay for the work will come from.