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In brief: Father of Celtic star Stokes charged with threatening business rival

The father of Celtic star Anthony Stokes appeared in court yesterday over allegations he threatened a business rival. Pub owner John Stokes was brought before a special sitting of Dublin District Court where he was accused of ordering another publican, with menace, to cease trading within 24 hours.

The 54-year-old, who runs the Players Lounge in Fairview, north Dublin, surrendered himself to gardai on Friday afternoon.

During a brief court appearance, Stokes was charged with making a demand with menaces on March 13 to a businessman.

And three Dublin men appeared in court on Friday facing similar charges.

All four have been remanded on bail to June 24.

Noonan travels for crunch meeting

Finance Minister Michael Noonan travels to Brussels tomorrow for a crunch meeting of European finance ministers amid growing concern over the sustainability of the euro.

The deepening crisis in Greece and the €78bn bailout for Portugal are set to dominate the agenda, with a reduction in Ireland's interest rate unlikely to be resolved.

Support for FG up since the election

Fine Gael would win an overall majority if a general election was held now, a Sunday Independent/Quantum Research telephone poll of 500 people nationwide has found. The main government party has commanded 45 per cent support, up 18 points from the last comparable poll in January this year.

Taken in advance of the arrival of Queen Elizabeth on a State visit this week, followed closely by US President Barack Obama, Fine Gael is still clearly enjoying a 'honeymoon' period with the electorate.

Although the Government has had negligible impact in terms of securing more favourable terms on the EU-IMF bailout, and has yet to get to grips with the budget deficit, it is still finding favour with the public.

The poll was taken last week in the aftermath of the Government's announcement of a decision to place a 0.6 per cent levy on private pension funds.

The results were: Fine Gael 45 per cent (up 18 points); Labour at 16 per cent (down 13); Fianna Fail at 7 per cent (down one); Sinn Fein at 6 per cent (down two); Greens at 1 per cent (down two); Independents at 7 per cent (down four); and don't knows at 18 per cent (up four).

Elderly woman avoids blast injuries

AN elderly lady escaped serious injury after a gas cylinder exploded at her home outside the Limerick village of Patrickswell at 9.30am yesterday.

The woman, who is in her eighties, emerged safely from her home at Cloonaduff although the property was extensively damaged. Three units of Limerick's Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene but left shortly afterwards when the area was declared safe.

No winner of €2.6m Lotto jackpot

THERE was no winner of last night's €2,697,740 Lotto jackpot. The numbers were 2, 6, 12, 13, 26, 29 (bonus 21). Friday's €121m Euromillions jackpot was won in Spain.

There were five Match 5+bonus winners, who each received €25,000; 112 Match 5s (€726); 222 Match 4+bonus (€92); 3,522 Match 4s (€36); 4,450 Match 3+bonus (€19); and 48,281 Match 3s (€5). The Lotto Plus 1 numbers were 2, 4, 19, 20, 22, 29 (bonus 9) and the Lotto Plus 2 numbers were 5, 7, 27, 32, 36, 45 (bonus 38).

And in the UK draw for £7.3m, the numbers were 8, 18, 27, 28, 46, 48 (bonus 44).

Candidate caught without insurance

A high-profile but unsuccessful general election candidate in Cavan/Monaghan constituency has been remanded on a charge of driving without insurance.

John McGuirk, 27, of Ballybay, Co Monaghan, was remanded by Judge Sean MacBride at Carrickmacross District Court to appear at a hearing later this month.

McGuirk, a Libertas election candidate who failed to get elected, told the court he was unaware of any alleged offence until gardai approached him with a warrant.

Unionist Party leader to be replaced

The Unionist Party Leader Tom Elliott is likely to be replaced before the party fights another major election because he called Sinn Fein supporters "scum".

Senior UUP strategists feel they would be unable to overcome the stigma of the "scum" remark he made at the Omagh count centre 10 days ago if he remains as leader.

Gardai probe attack on GAA referee

Gardai are investigating an alleged assault on a GAA referee at a minor football match in Monaghan.

The referee, Xavier Coyle, who is a well-known official attached to the Tyholland club in Monaghan, received a serious facial injury in the incident last Tuesday night during a match between teams from two neighbouring north Monaghan GAA clubs, Scotstown and Truagh.

It is understood that an adult spectator ran onto the pitch and allegedly struck Mr Coyle a single blow.

Spectators tried to restore order, but the injured ref, who required medical attention, had to abandon the game.

Sky offers four additional channels

SKY digital viewers can now get four additional channels -- BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC -- at no extra cost. Sky also confirmed that new and existing customers will have their subscription packages frozen until 2013. The service has 10.1m customers in the UK and Ireland.

"We recognise this is a time when there's significant pressure on household budgets, so we want to help our customers by providing them with a little more certainty on their outgoings," said Sky's Mark Deering.

Sunday Independent