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Two elderly men die in separate accidents at their homes in Wexford

Two elderly men have died in separate accidents in Co Wexford. Eighty-two-year-old Edward Kelly, from Clologue, Camolin, died as the result of injuries received when he fell from a roof on his farm in Newbawn, Co Wexford, and an 83-year-old man died in a fire at his home.

Mr Kelly was carrying out repairs to the roof of a shed on his farm when he slipped and fell 30 feet to the ground. The popular local farmer was yesterday described as 'a gentleman' by neighbours who have known him and his family down through the years. Gardai are investigating the incident after they were called to the residence shortly after the accident.

In a separate incident, Jim O'Neill (83), who lived alone in his house in Tincarrig, Newbawn, was found in a downstairs room after fire fighters had fought the blaze. Gardai in New Ross are appealing for information from anyone who may have noticed anything suspicious in the area in the lead-up to the fire.

Celestial body is not 'Christmas Star'

A brilliant new 'Christmas star' about 100 times brighter than the brightest stars in the sky has appeared over Ireland and is expected to remain on view for several weeks.

Curious stargazers have been contacting Astronomy Ireland asking is it a 'Christmas Star' and if so why was it not seen last year? But it is not a sign of the Second Coming -- it is the planet Venus which happens to be coming close to Earth over the Christmas season.

TD urges us to look after one another

Fine Gael TD Derek Keating has urged people to look after their loved ones' mental health over the Christmas period, which he described as a very challenging time of year for vulnerable members of society.

"While Christmas should be a joyous occasion, it can also be a very challenging time for many people. Financial problems can seem amplified at this time of year, adding to stresses and concerns. The horrible reality is that many families will be left devastated by suicide this Christmas. I would urge everyone to think of your close friends and relatives, and reach out to anyone who may be feeling vulnerable.

"The Government is taking the lead on the issue of mental health, after decades of neglect. Individually, we must all do what we can to ensure that our loved ones are supported over the Christmas period."

Heatons raises €50,000 for children

Heatons Management & Staff around the country joined in celebration following the announcement that their fundraising activities raised €50,000 for Chernobyl Children International.

The money raised will purchase a 'Heatons Home of Hope' housing a foster mother and father, and up to nine children. The 'Heatons Home of Hope' will be a place where children can be part of a greater network, growing up together as part of a family.

Three BoI executives set to retire

Three directors of the Bank of Ireland are to retire.

Mr John O'Donovan will retire as executive director of the bank on December 31, and non-executive director Rose Hynes will retire on the same date. A third director, Jerome Kennedy, has indicated that he will stand down at the next AGM of the bank.

Pat Butler, a partner in the Resolution Group and Mr Patrick Mulvihill, who retired as an executive of the global bank Goldman Sachs in 2006, have been appointed to the board of Bank of Ireland.

IRA attacks 'some of most expensive'

The IRA accounted for five of the 10 most expensive terrorist attacks around the globe in the last two decades.

According to statistics compiled by influential re-insurance intermediary Guy Carpenter & Co, the IRA was responsible for all of the most expensive terrorist attacks in Britain.

The most expensive terrorist attack was the 9/11 demolition of the Twin Towers in New York and the attack on the Pentagon which cost the insurance industry $23.1bn (€17.6bn).

The next most expensive global terrorist attack was the 1993 London bombing by the IRA which cost the insurance industry $1.2 bn (€919m). Known as the 'Bishopsgate Bomb' it devastated London's financial district, killing one person and injuring 44 people.

Titanic attraction tickets sell well

MORE THAN 35,000 tickets have been sold for a new Belfast attraction commemorating the launch of the Titanic a century ago.

The ticket sales on the first day of bookings have raised hopes that the £97m (€116m) attraction in east Belfast will be able to pay its way despite doubts expressed over the viability of the new tourism project where an estimated 290,000 visitors a year are needed to allow the landmark attraction which opens in April to break even.

The six-storey centre is sited close to the slipway from where the most talked-about passenger liner ever built was launched in 1912. The North's Audit Office has expressed doubt that the Titanic attraction will be able to break even over the long term after initial interest wanes.

Fastest turkey plucker has challenger

A 61-year-old Irishman who has retained the title of "fastest turkey plucker on the planet" for the past 30 years has responded to a challenge for his quirky title from an Englishman -- and says he will face his aspiring opponent in a turkey-plucking marathon at a venue in the Republic or Britain, to be arranged at Easter.

Vincent Pilkington from Cootehill, Co Cavan, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest plucker on record, since a televised performance at the RTE studios in Dublin on November 17, 1980, when he plucked a 60lb turkey in one minute and 30 seconds.

Last week, the retired father of two was honoured by a civic ceremony in his hometown and had a portrait unveiled in his local pub -- Smith's Bar in Bridge Street -- by the town mayor, Councillor Johnny McMullen, at celebrations organised by the local community.

€200,000 to GOAL for Sudan conflict

The Department of Foreign Affairs today confirmed that it will allocate €200,000 to GOAL for its emergency programme in the Maban region of southern Sudan.

GOAL is addressing the humanitarian needs of a growing displaced population in Maban, where refugee numbers are expected to reach 100,000 over the coming weeks.

Intense conflict in Blue Nile State, which has caused this most recent crisis, has the potential to destabilise the fragile peace between the north and the south.

Sunday Independent