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New mortgage approvals fall

THERE has been a fall in the number of new mortgages approved by banks.

Some 1,167 mortgages for house purchases and top-ups were approved in March.

But this was down 11pc from the same month last year, according to figures from the Irish Banking Federation.

The banking lobby group said there was a rise in the number of mortgages approved in March when compared with February this year.

The value of the mortgages approved in March was €196m – some €186m of which was for house purchase.


Taliban bomb attacks kill 13

Roadside bomb attacks in northern Afghanistan killed three Nato service members and five Afghans yesterday.

In another attack in the south of the country, a roadside bomb in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province killed three civilians and wounded five.

And in Archi district in the province of Kunduz, a roadside bomb killed two people, including a local police commander.

The Taliban and other insurgent groups make heavy use of roadside bombs. They are among the deadliest weapons in the Afghan war for civilians.


Castro girl gets US gay award

The daughter of Cuba president Raul Castro will travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy.

Officials at the Equality Forum say Mariela Castro will attend the group's annual conference on gay rights this weekend.

The organisation's executive director, Malcolm Lazin, said the US State Department reversed its initial decision denying permission.

Mariela Castro is the niece of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro.