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In brief: Former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald remains 'gravely ill' in hospital

Former Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald remained "gravely ill" in a Dublin hospital yesterday. He had been placed on a ventilator last week after being taken to the Mater Private Hospital to be treated for pneumonia.

Dr FitzGerald, 85, has received good wishes from the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former Taoiseach John Bruton, as well as many other politicians. Mr Kenny said he had said a prayer for his health and well-being and he hoped that he would make it through.

Ireland wins EU-IMF rate cut -- BBC

Ireland is to get an interest rate cut on the emergency loans it received from EU bodies, the BBC said yesterday.

Ireland pays an average rate of 5.8 per cent on loans agreed with the EU-IMF and a special fund set up by the EU. The BBC said it was unclear how much of a cut this will entail, but a one per cent cut could be worth up to €400m. The broadcaster quotes sources saying a special written procedure will be adopted ahead of the meeting of EU finance ministers on May 17.

It is unclear what type of concessions Ireland will have to make under the terms of any rate reduction, although the Government has said it will not make a concession on the 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate.

However, the Department of Finance said it understands that the European Commission is working on paperwork required in the event of such a cut. It said this was a technical exercise and no political agreement whatsoever has been reached on the issue.

Strong sales of morning-after pill

A LARGE majority of Irish chemists have been asked for the morning-after pill since it became available without prescription in February.

A survey by the Irish Pharmacy Union of over 200 pharmacists across the country showed that 85 per cent of pharmacists have been asked for the pill, called the Emergency Hormonal Contraceptive Pill, since February.

The age of people requesting the pill ranged from 16 to 40, with those aged 20-25 years seeking the pill most.

Pregnant airport worker dies in crash

A 36-year-old pregnant woman from Limerick city was killed early yesterday after her car hit a tree at Hurler's Cross, near where she worked at Shannon Airport. She was named as Aileen O'Brien, who was married just last year. It is believed the accident happened at around 5am.

In Galway, a male pedestrian was killed when he was struck by a car on the R336 at Salahoona near Spiddal, Co Galway, at around 1am yesterday. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Western winner of €5m Lotto jackpot

THERE was one winner of last night's €5,076,220 Lotto jackpot. The numbers were 7, 12, 24, 36, 43, 45 (bonus 34) and the winning ticket was sold in the west of Ireland.

There was one Match 5+bonus winner who will receive €25,000; 62 Match 5s (€1,444); 105 Match 4+bonus (€214); 2,462 Match 4s (€56); 3,015 Match 3+bonus (€31); and 40,488 Match 3s (€5 scratchcard).

The Lotto Plus 1 numbers were 3, 20, 26, 33, 37, 39 (bonus 35), and the Lotto Plus 2 numbers were 1, 12, 18, 20, 22, 41 (bonus 45).

In the UK draw for an estimated stg£4.3m prize, the numbers were 17, 18, 24, 29, 35, 48 (bonus 3).

Number of Irish visiting Spain drops

The number of Irish people visiting Spain dropped by a dramatic 20 per cent last year as the recession began to bite. Last year 1.7 million Irish visitors went to Spain in search of the sun -- but the economic downturn at home has meant this was about 340,000 less than the previous year. The drop in the number of Irish visitors was the most dramatic of any European country.

Sean Og signs off after 63 years

After 63 years on RTE, veteran sports broadcaster Sean Og O Ceallachain will announce the Gaelic sports results for the last time tonight on RTE Radio 1 at 10.50pm.

Paul McCartney to wed for third time

FORMER Beatle Paul McCartney is to wed for the third time after proposing to his girlfriend of nearly four years.

The musician's publicist confirmed yesterday that the singer has got engaged to New York socialite Nancy Shevell, but refused to give any further details.

Paul, 68, and Ms Shevell started seeing each other in Long Island's Hamptons area in late 2007.

McCartney's first wife, Linda, died of cancer in 1998 and he divorced his second wife, Heather Mills, in 2008.

Another arrest in Smithfield shooting

A fourth man has been arrested in connection with a shooting at the Smithfield Horse Fair in central Dublin on March 6, at which two men were shot and another almost lost an arm when he was attacked with a slashook.

Gardai at the Bridewell Station arrested a 21-year-old man in relation to the incident early yesterday.

Free picnic for 'Day of the Family'

To mark International Day of the Family, a free family-day picnic will take place in Iveagh Gardens in Dublin on May 15. Activities on the day will include arts and crafts workshops, story telling and fun sports activities. See www.familyday.ie for details.

Woman struck down by Irish accent

An American woman awoke from dental surgery 18 months ago and started speaking in an Irish accent although she's never visited this country.

Karen Butler, 56, who has lived all her life in Oregon has been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, an extremely rare neurological disorder. Only 60 cases have been identified since 1941. During an interview on the US Today show, Butler said that doctors believe there is nothing wrong with her physically. "You talk to young girls, they think it's a very, very pretty sound. And they say: 'I want an accent like that.'

"I say: 'Go see my dentist. He only charges $7,000.'"

Probe into golf club asbestos danger

An environmental inspection into a possible asbestos risk is to take place at the old Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, which was destroyed by what gardai say was a malicious fire last Sunday morning.

Buildings around the main clubhouse with asbestos roofs were destroyed in the fire, which took 10 units from Dublin Fire Brigade four hours to bring under control.

Girl Guides celebrate their centenary

6,000 members of the Irish Girl Guides were in Thurles this weekend to celebrate the centenary of the group.

Former Girl Guides include Olympic medallist Sonia O'Sullivan and Una Healy, who is from Thurles, of the band The Saturdays. Asked about the relevance of the Girl Guides in the modern world, Linda Peters, CEO of the Irish Girl Guides, said: "The Irish Girl Guides teach girls useful life skills for coping in today's world."

Sunday Independent