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Firms recovery set to quicken

Struggling shops can look forward to 2015 with a sense of cautious optimism, a leading business body has said.

With thousands more in employment, greater disposable incomes and an improved level of consumer confidence, predictions that the pace of recovery will increase during this year have been made by industry representatives Retail Ireland.

But, the Ibec group has also warned that cost pressures and unrealistic wage demands could derail the process, which is still in its infancy.

Couples lie over chocolate intake

Almost half of adults have lied to their partner about how much chocolate they eat, a new study has shown.

Chocolate is the hardest thing to give up, beating alcohol, caffeine, or even sex, research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found.

A third of adults have eaten chocolate on their way home from work, and almost half have hidden wrappers to disguise how much they eat, a survey of 3,000 people showed.

Six held over jihadi support

Police detained six suspected extremists in southwest France yesterday in the second such sweep in five days, part of an effort aimed at snuffing out networks of Muslim radicals sending fighters abroad.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the six, arrested around Albi and Toulouse, were suspected of helping to finance jihadi networks that recruit youth for fighting in Syria or Iraq.

Recruiters and others who help French residents travel to battlefronts also are being targeted.

Spongebob zaps 'Sniper'

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water finally unseated Clint Eastwood's runaway hit American Sniper at the weekend box office, while a pair of high-priced fantasies flopped.

According to estimates, Paramount Pictures' SpongeBob Movie earned $56m, a huge debut for the animated Nickelodeon big-screen transfer. That finally pushed American Sniper off the top spot after a three-week reign.