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1,650 needed help abroad

Almost 1,650 Irish people needed diplomatic assistance while abroad last year, it has been revealed.

Child abductions, accidents and arrests were among the emergencies which required intervention from embassy officials, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Consular help was also given to the families of 217 people who died in a foreign country last year.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, said: "Our staff are deeply committed to assisting Irish citizens in difficulty and to helping Irish families at home dealing with distressing situations abroad."

Spall hailed for Turner portrayal

Actor Timothy Spall has been named best actor of 2014 by America's National Society of Film Critics.

The society, made up of 59 members from major publications across the US, lauded Spall for his portrayal of painter JMW Turner, in Mr Turner.

The 3-D movie Goodbye To Language won the best picture accolade at the society's 49th annual awards meeting in New York, while Richard Linklater was hailed best director for his drama Boyhood.

Airstrikes take out 31 militants

Pakistani airstrikes killed 31 militants and a suspected US drone strike killed another seven, officials said, as local troops pressed an ongoing offensive in the country's tribal regions.

The airstrikes in the Tirrah valley destroyed four militant hideouts and a suicide bomber training centre. The military said several would-be suicide bombers were among the dead, without providing further details.

Theatre fire evacuation

Around 1,200 people were evacuated from one of London's most popular West End musicals after a small fire in the boiler room.

The cast, who were performing a matinee of Les Miserables at the Queen's Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, are also believed to have been evacuated.

"There was a small fire caused by a failing high voltage joint in the boiler room. There were no injuries," a spokeswoman said.