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In brief: Man dies in hospital after injuries sustained in New Year's Eve house fire

A man has died following a house fire in Clonee, Co Dublin. The fire broke out at about 9pm on New Year's Eve at a property in Hunters Run.

A garda spokesman said the 50-year-old man was alone in the property at the time. He said the incident was not being treated as suspicious.

The man was taken to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Water restrictions remain in place

Water restrictions returned yesterday in many counties after the New Year reprieve.

Local authorities are still struggling to fix broken water mains and restore reservoir stocks.

Environment Minister John Gormley suggested on New Year's Eve that most areas outside Dublin would see a resumption of normal water supplies by today but many councils say rationing will continue over the coming days in Cork, Clare, Leitrim, Laois, Limerick, Longford, Sligo, Clare, Wicklow and Kildare as well as the four Dublin local authority areas.

In Dublin there are severe water restrictions.

The city council says it is making every effort to restore supplies but could not guarantee cuts would end by January 10, when schools reopen.

The council said it hoped to return to night-time cuts only, from 6pm to 7am, from tomorrow night onwards.

Elderly woman's body found in chapel

The body of an elderly woman has been found in the chapel of a hospital in Ennis, Co Clare. However, the pensioner's death is not being treated as suspicious.

The 88-year-old local woman was not a patient at the hospital but was a regular visitor to the chapels at Ennis General Hospital and the nearby St Joseph's Hospital. The woman was well known to staff at both hospitals.

It is understood that the local woman went to visit the hospital to say a few prayers on Friday evening and collapsed and died while there.

President dances to beat of New Year

President Mary McAleese danced in the streets to welcome in the New Year.

She joined in the celebrations at Portmagee, Co Kerry, where locals swap the old year for the new to commemorate an early 18th Century ship landing in the port between Christmas and the New Year.

On New Year's Eve the ship's crew marched through the village with torches, pretended to shoot an elderly crewman and then replaced him with a younger man.

The President was visiting daughter Emma and her husband Michael O'Connell, who had their first wedding anniversary over Christmas. Lawyer Michael, who is from nearby Valentia Island, is a son of famous Kerry footballer Mick O'Connell.

Villagers breathe new life into mart

It's been just over a year ago since the mart in the village of Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, ceased operations but after the tireless efforts of a small community it is set to reopen its doors again.

The mart was owned and operated by Golden Vale Marts (GVM) but it was shut down last December after the owners cited continuing losses in the operation as a result of lower cattle numbers. However, a group of locals led by Fr Harry Bohan raised money to buy it back from its original owners.

More than 500 farmers and local residents in the east Clare area funded a bid of €300,000 to buy back the mart with the intention of re-activating the service for farmers in the area. Shares were sold at €500 per share. The original asking price for the premises was €600,000 but after a year of negotiations a bid for €300,000 was finally accepted by GVM. The group of local shareholders will meet in two weeks' time to formally accept the deal.

Local County Councillor John Crowe said it was vital for the sustainability of the parish that the mart reopened.

Debt-ridden FF has €2m surplus

FIANNA Fail has a €2m surplus accumulated over several years of state funding of political parties, but the party is still in the red.

The generous surplus was built up over several years under the State's system of funding political parties, according to party sources. But Fianna Fail cannot touch a cent of it for the forthcoming general election. The rules stipulate that the money can only be used on administration and research.

Fianna Fail is faced with the contradiction of having €2m sitting in an administration account while it is battling to reduce a €3m debt. The scarcity of election funding has caused speculation that it may lead to many backbench FF TDs choosing not to stand again because of fears they will have to fund an election campaign out of their own pockets.

Diplomats handled 1,300 emergencies

Ireland's overseas consular staff handled 1,310 serious emergencies last year. Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said assistance was given to the families of 204 people who died abroad, as well as 293 travellers who were arrested, injured in accidents or admitted to hospital.

Mr Martin urged Irish citizens planning trips abroad this year to obtain comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, and take sensible precautions while overseas.

Anniversary Mass for Old IRA leader

The 41st anniversary of the death of Old IRA leader Dan Breen of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Old IRA will be marked with a Mass in Donohill Church, Co Tipperary, today.

Mr Breen, who was a Dail deputy, will also be honoured with a wreath-laying ceremony at his grave, followed by a cultural evening. Mr Breen and his comrades began the War of Independence at Soloheadbeg on January 21, 1919.

Peace prize goes to Afghan activist

The 2010 Tipperary International Peace Prize is being awarded to Afghan human-rights activist Dr Sima Samar. The announcement of the award was made yesterday in a statement issued by Tipperary Peace Convention.

The statement said that Dr Samar was "an amazingly brave woman who has risked her life to fight for the rights of women and girls in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Dr Samar leads the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. A medical doctor by profession, she served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan from 2005 to 2009.

No winner of €2.6m Lotto jackpot

There was no winner of last night's Lotto draw, the first of 2011. Wednesday's draw should be more than €3m. The winning numbers in the New Year's Day lotto jackpot of €2,597,362 were: 8, 9, 10, 28, 30 and 43. The bonus number was 44.

Lotto Plus 1 winning numbers were: 7, 11, 13, 15, 36, and 38. The bonus number was 18. Lotto Plus 2 winning numbers were: 22, 24, 26, 30, 33 and 41. The bonus number was 27.

Sunday Independent