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Shops plead for relief on taxes

Retailers demanded no hikes in excise duty as a survey showed a sixth of motorists planned to Christmas shop across the border.

Retail Ireland said the Budget must take steps to boost consumer confidence when VAT jumps by 2pc.

Chairman Frank Gleeson maintained decisive action must also be taken to tackle diesel laundering and tobacco smuggling. "Retail sales have fallen by over 20pc since 2008 due to the recession and price reductions," he said.

New Zealand to get coalition

New Zealand's prime minister is negotiating with three smaller parties to form a new government.

John Key's National Party won a convincing general election victory but fell short of being able to govern alone. That means his party will seek a pledge of support from at least one of the smaller parties on spending and confidence votes.

Mr Key is meeting representatives from the United Future, Maori and Act parties, which may seek policy concessions in exchange for support.

SVP criticises help on heating

A charity has criticised Government plans to improve the affordability of energy for low-income households.

St Vincent de Paul (SVP) maintained there were serious gaps in the Warmer Homes strategy, including no commitment to compensate low-income households for Carbon Tax hikes.

It also claimed a proposed pay-as-you-go scheme for thermal retrofitting will not work for the bulk of people helped by SVP and that proposals did not feature the domestic oil sector.

OAP protester dies in tent city

One of about 30 protesters who had been on hunger strike in Ukraine pension cuts died night after police broke up their tents.

The group were survivors of Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear accident and had been staging their protest in the mining city of Donetsk.

With temperatures hovering around zero, 70-year-old Gennady Konoplyov was taken ill and died in an ambulance after the police operation. "It was an act of terrorism," said a protester.