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Fianna Fail braced for criticism over anticipated Mahon findings on Ahern


Bertie Ahern

Bertie Ahern

Bertie Ahern

FIANNA Fail is bracing itself for the fallout from the Mahon Tribunal report, with the party drawing up a strategy to respond to its findings, including potentially adverse claims against its former leader.

The tribunal's findings on Bertie Ahern's financial affairs are keenly anticipated and he faces possible expulsion from the party if the tribunal finds against him.

Sources close to Mr Ahern yesterday accused Micheal Martin of preparing to cut the former Taoiseach and other party figures adrift if the report reached adverse conclusions about them. The long-awaited report was expected to be published last year but it could be delayed until February or March.

Mr Martin is under pressure to respond robustly to the report when it is eventually published. A tough stance is thought to be crucial to his efforts to rebuild the party since its disastrous General Election performance.

One of Britain's longest-serving prisoners, a Syrian secret agent who duped his pregnant Dublin girlfriend into carrying a bomb on board a flight from Heathrow Airport to Israel, is to remain in jail despite a High Court ruling.

The British Parole Board has said that Nezar Hindawi -- who tricked Sallynoggin chambermaid Anne-Marie Murphy into unwittingly carrying the bomb in her case -- could now remain in jail until 2016. His 45-year sentence, handed down after the 1986 bombing attempt, is believed to be the longest ever handed down by a British court.

Gardai are treating as "possibly" suspicious a fire at a house near Castlebellingham, Co Louth, in the early hours of yesterday. The Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was called out after a small explosion was heard during the fire, which extensively damaged the house.

The house was unoccupied when the fire was spotted by two men who tried to gain access to see if anyone was inside. Both were treated for smoke inhalation but have been discharged from hospital.

THERE was no winner of last night's €2.6m Lotto jackpot.

The winning numbers were 1, 2, 7, 15, 20, 27 (Bonus 11).

There were three Match 5+bonus winners who get €25,000; 97 Match 5s (€778); 272 Match 4+bonus (€70); 3,322 Match 4s (€35); 6,052 Match 3+bonus (€13); and 46,300 Match 3s (€5 scratchcard). The Lotto Plus 1 numbers were 7, 13, 20, 23, 39, 44 (bonus 34) and the Lotto Plus 2 numbers were 3, 4, 13, 25, 26, 37 (bonus 28).

In the UK draw for stg£6.5m, the numbers were 8, 14, 15, 17, 20, 47 (bonus 38).

Students in Massachusetts will wear black to school as part of the state's anti-bullying efforts in the wake of the death by suicide of Irish teenager Phoebe Prince.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has designated January 25 as No Name-Calling Day. The governor's office said students would be urged to sign a pledge against name-calling and would be encouraged to wear black to symbolise their commitment to "Black Out Bullying".

Legislation signed by the governor in 2010 following a spate of bullying incidents included a provision for a No Name-Calling Day. The law requires school districts to develop anti-bullying strategies and was enacted after the death of Phoebe, who took her own life after classmates taunted her when she dated a popular boy.

ONE of Ireland's longest-serving public officials, Matt Donnelly, director of the Border Regional Authority for 13 years, and a senior local authority administrative official in Co Cavan for 42 years, has announced his retirement.

Andrew Boylan, chairman of the Border body, said Mr Donnelly had a unique record, and his work was "invaluable in promoting the role of the Border-based authority since its establishment in 1999".

The Psychiatric Nurses' Association (PNA) is to re-commence industrial action from Wednesday, January 11, involving PNA staff in all Dublin north mental health services, including St Ita's Hospital in Portrane. The action will involve a work to rule, but no staff will be absent. A spokesman said that the HSE had broken agreements after acute admissions were transferred from St Ita's.

THE search for a civil servant missing for over a fortnight is expected to intensify after a campaign launched by her colleagues led to more information about her movements.

Monica Riordan disappeared on December 20 after she left her office in Pobal on Holles Street at about 11am. Last week a witness provided a confirmed sighting of Ms Riordan at 5pm on the corner of Pearse Street and Macken Street, where she reportedly looked "disoriented".

After leaving work, she rang the emergency services several times on her mobile phone, the last call being at around 4pm. Her phone was later handed in to gardai by a passer-by who found it in the Grand Canal Street area at 5.30pm. Anyone with information is asked to call the garda confidential line 1 800 666111.

The death has occurred in Dublin of the poet and playwright Basil Payne. Mr Payne published four books of poetry, starting with Sunlight on a Square, and had his plays staged at the Peacock Theatre.

Prior to becoming a full-time poet, Basil worked in the VHI and is credited with giving it the name the Voluntary Health Insurance.

National Childline manager Margie Roe refuted claims that the majority of calls to Childline on Christmas Day were either hoax or hang-ups.

"There's absolutely no way this is true. In Childline, we don't consider any call a hoax. Children might ring up and hang up immediately to see what we're like. We had 85 staff working through the Christmas -- they wouldn't have been here if that was the case."

The organisation said that it received more than 1,300 calls and texts on Christmas Day, 40 per cent up on the previous year, but did not provide a breakdown of the figures, which would indicate how many were 'hang-ups".

An MP wants more police resources deployed to his constituency following an attempt to kill a British soldier there last week.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds wants more security resources brought into his constituency to combat dissident republican activity after a Scottish soldier on leave escaped death in an under-car bomb attack.

He will meet the area's police commander tomorrow to press for more police patrols and undercover resources to be deployed in the area.

Sunday Independent