Other NI News In Brief

Starters' Orders

Belfast's Deep RiverRock City Marathon is into the final stages of planning before it takes place on Monday 2 May. A record 20,000 participants are expected to help the event to celebrate its 30th birthday in style - and joining in the festivities will be the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Pat Convery, who teamed up with Danny O'Connor, Chairman of the Marathon's organizing committee, and Stefanie Foster of Deep RiverRock got the celebrations under way.

Fresh Bomb Alert

The Limestone Road in north Belfast has been closed at its junction with Mountcollyer Avenue and York Road after a suspicious object was found this afternoon. The alert follows a three-day long operation on the nearby Antrim Road that uncovered two bombs - believed to be targeted at PSNI officers. It has also just been revealed that a pipe bomb has been removed by the Army after an alert in Ballyclare. The device was discovered at a housing development at Rashee Road in the town at about 4am on Friday.

Blaze Destroys Homes

Three houses have been badly damaged in a suspected arson attack at Rathfern Way in Newtownabbey. Five fire engines and an aerial appliance attended the blaze on Thursday night. No-one was injured after a fire was started in a rubbish bin which was set alight, and within a few minutes the houses were in flames as their oil tanks became involved.

Three Questioned In Dissident Probe

Three people are facing questioning in connection with yesterday's discovery of explosives and firearms in Co Galway. Detectives investigating dissident republican activity said they are continuing to question the two men and a woman about the discovery. The finds at two separate locations have been linked to the Real IRA. The explosive material was found in an outbuilding during a raid on land at Monivea. A follow-up search at a farmhouse in the grounds turned up a handgun and three shotguns, which were also seized.

Londonderry Air
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The airspace around Derry is to be safer soon with news that Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn has welcomed a decision by Stormont Regional decvelopment Minister Conor Murphy to support Derry City Council's vital health and safety works at City of Derry Airport. Councillor MacLochlainn said: "Derry City Council has been working very hard to make the improvements to the City of Derry Airport to bring it up to standards with the very stringent health and safety requirements of a modern airport. Derry City Council has been seeking support from the Executive for the necessary improvements to this vital piece of regional infrastructure and I am delighted that Sinn Féin Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, has today issued a Ministerial Directive in support of our bid for the investment funding. This vote of confidence in Derry and further commitment to our regional infrastructure is to be welcomed," he said.

Farmers Feed Molasses

Fresh grain price rises have proved a boost for United Molasses Managing Director David Malseed with extra business this winter as livestock farmers are feeding more molasses and less grain to cut costs. "Orders have been coming in thick and fast since it became clear molasses prices will not rise until April at the earliest," David revealed. "Global demand is forcing maize, wheat and soya prices up with further cereal cost escalation almost certain. "Thus the tremendous demand for price static molasses from livestock producers seeking better value for their money. It is also very noticeable that farmers now using molasses quickly comment on other benefits of this natural product, not least increased dry matter intake."

Garda Trampled By Fleeing Cow

A member of the Gardaí is recovering after being knocked down by a cow that escaped from a mart in Co Clare. The animal escaped from the mart on Quin Road in Ennis yesterday and ran along one of the busiest routes in the town. A garda who tried to corral the animal was knocked down and dragged along the road while three other members of the public who tried to help were also injured. The cow was eventually brought under control and forced into a nearby field.

Farm Revenues Rise

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew has warmly welcomed the increase in agricultural income for 2010, which was indicated by her Department's figures published today. "After several years when farm incomes were static or falling we can see some good news on the horizon. In particular, the recovery in the value of dairy output is very encouraging after the difficulties experienced in this sector during 2009. Unfortunately, the beef sector fared less well during 2010 and there are concerns about rising input costs. For these reasons, the Single Farm Payment remains a critically important tool for supporting agriculture. As we look to the future, it is clear that we need a strong CAP that is carefully shaped for the benefit of all. I am committed to fighting for just such an outcome in the ongoing discussions on CAP reform post 2013," she said, but noted: "The rise in prices for many agricultural commodities in 2010 was a welcome boost for farmers and helped renew confidence. Whilst today's farm income figures are a positive step in the right direction, a lot of work still has be done to ensure this momentum is continued."


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