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News Digest

News in brief Northern comedian set to take over Late Late COMEDIAN Patrick Kielty is set to fill Gay Byrne's shows hosting the Late Late Show.Last night the popular Co Down-born performer was tight-lipped about the news, but RTE sources say he will be in the hot seat when the series resumes this autumn.

Gay steps down after 36 years as presenter on May 21, and station chiefs plan a star-studded farewell party for him in the Berkeley Court Hotel, Dublin.

It also emerged last night that RTE is bringing in Gay's former radio producer Philip Kampff to join Kielty, replacing current producer Cilian Fennell.

Kampff and his business partner, Andy Ruane, were the masterminds behind The Lyric Board TV series which RTE has sold to 55 countries. He was also involved the British Lottery show, rescuing it from poor ratings, and was closely associated with the highly successful Noel Edmond's House Party programme.

Kielty was a psychology student at Queen's University Belfast when he opted for a life on the comedy circuit. After initial success in Belfast he moved to Channel 4 to host the Last Chance Lottery. He was then signed up by UTV for his own chat show, PK Tonight, before taking over the new BBC National Lottery show with Anthea Turner.

A regular visitor to Dublin, Kielty has been recently been seen in the company of top model Amanda Byram and was formerly linked to British page three model Kathy Lloyd.

Michelle's ban appeal starts tomorrow in Lausanne

SWIMMER Michelle de Bruin's appeal against her four-year ban imposed by FINA, the international swimming federation, begins tomorrow at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

* See Sports Section

Tributes flow in for Philomena Keane

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TRIBUTES have been coming in from around the globe for world champion craftworker Philomena Keane who has died. Philomena won over 7,000 awards for crafts and cookery world wide and much of her work went to charity. She regarded her hobby as ``a labour of love''.

Dun Laoghaire streets brought to book

DUN Laoghaire, its streets and famous residents are to be featured in a new book which forms part of the Millennium celebrations. The Dun Laoghaire Borough Historical Society is producing a book revealing the secrets behind the town's street names. Prominent residents in the area included the actor Wilfrid Brambell, better known as Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son, the long-running BBC comedy series.

Ryanair calls on passengers to resist levy

LOW fares airline Ryanair has asked passengers on the Kerry-London route not to pay to a £5 levy imposed at Kerry Airport this weekend.

The airline's commercial director, Michael Cawley, said yesterday the levy would have a disastrous effect on Kerry's booming tourist industry. Ryanair has also distributed about 20,000 leaflets saying `No to Kerry Airport levy' to passengers on the route over the holiday weekend.

Villagers evacuated after child finds `bomb'

A Co Armagh village was thrown into chaos yesterday after a child stumbled upon a suspect bomb. Twelve families were evacuated from their homes in Richhill after the child discovered the device, believed to be a pipe bomb, on the doorstep of a house in Bellevue Terrace.

Eyewitnesses said army bomb disposal experts were called to the scene at about 11am after the child was found carrying the suspect device.

The area was sealed off for almost three and a half hours as army technical officers dealt with the suspicious object.

Stabbing victim's father to fight election

SEAMUS Martin, whose 23-year-old son Liam was stabbed to death by an illegal Albanian national in Dublin in June 1997, is to contest the June local elections in County Laois.

Afrim Xhasa (25) subsequently pleaded guilty in the Central Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Liam Martin, who worked as a security officer in Dublin. Xhasa was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. An appeal against leniency of this sentence was recently served on Mr Xhasa by the DPP. In the wake of his son's death, Seamus Martin has been campaigning for the introduction of what he regards as meaningful immigration legislation and has been highly critical of what he regards as lenient sentences being handed down in Irish courts to convicted killers.

Mr Martin served as a Fianna Fail councillor on Laois County Council from 1969 to 1979, having been co-opted to the local authority following the death in a road traffic accident of his late father.


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