25/02/2011

Other NI News In Brief

Circuit Of Ireland 'Revs-up'

The 2011 Donnelly Group Circuit of Ireland Rally in association with UTV Drive has been officially launched. The world famous Rally will take place across the Easter weekend (23/24 April). Competitors will undertake 16 competitive stages across counties Armagh, Down, Antrim and Bowe's home county Monaghan. At the launch is Ireland winger Tommy Bowe and 2010 Circuit of Ireland champion Derek McGarrity with Rally fans Sarah and Laurina Kennedy. For more information: www.circuitofireland.net

Hazel Stewart 'Avoids Dock'

The Co Londonderry woman accused of a bizarre double murder, will not be giving evidence in her own trial at Coleraine it has emerged. Hazel Stewart, 47, denies murdering her husband, Trevor Buchanan, 32, and her former lover Colin Howell's wife, Leslie, 31, in May 1991 with the jury being told on Thursday that closing submissions would be heard next week after which they could expect to retire to consider their verdict. Howell is serving a 21-year sentence after he admitted his guilt last year despite the police originally believing Mr Buchanan and Mrs Howell died in a suicide pact. The investigation was re-opened in January 2009 after Howell admitted that he gassed them and then fooled police into believing they had taken their own lives. Mrs Stewart admitted in court she knew of a plan to kill her husband but insisted she wanted no part in it.

Slurry Horror Recalled

The death of two workers, Robert Wilson, 21 and Kenneth Blair, 33, who were killed after a slurry container burst open in 2005 has been recalled with an NI contractor now fined £3,000 for failing to carry out a number of safety procedures which resulted in the deaths of the farm workers. The accident happened at Ballela, Co Down when the men were pumping waste from a tanker and were hit by thousands of gallons of waste. Contractor, Trevor Moore, 53, from Townhill Road, Rasharkin, was given three years to pay the fine because he has since been declared bankrupt.

Duffy Fails In Court Bid
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The so-called dissident republican Colin Duffy and five others, who were arrested in connection with the murder of two soldiers and a policeman, have failed to win a court declaration that the period of detention contravened human rights laws. The suspects were seeking a verdict that provisions under anti-terrorism legislation were incompatible with their right to liberty under European legislation. The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, and two other senior judges ruled that no basis for making the declaration had been established - but lawyers are now set to mount a challenge to the verdict at the Supreme Court in London. The case related to the detention of four people in connection with the Real IRA shootings of Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azminkar, 21, outside Massereene Army barracks in Antrim on March 2009 with Duffy, 43 and from Lurgan, now due to stand trial for the murders.

Bookies On Sundays?

Changes in legislation on gambling, which Executive Social Development Minister Alex Attwood has said will strengthen regulations while easing industry restrictions may soon allow gambling on Sundays. At the moment, the courts, district councils and the PSNI share responsibility for regulating the industry. He has suggested a single licensing body with new powers to impose penalties on gambling operators for breaches of licensing condition with allowing bookmakers to open on Sundays a part of wider legislation on gambling being suggested.

Windmills On Way

The Irish renewable energy group, Gaelectric, has secured full planning approval for a 42 MW wind farm at Dunbeg, Co Londonderry. Dunbeg will be one of the most significant wind farm developments on the island of Ireland and will generate sufficient renewable power to meet the electricity demand of 24,000 homes. The total investment at Dunbeg will amount to £58m. The development will consist of 14 wind turbines with a maximum hub height of 80 metres and a maximum blade diameter of 90 metres. Gaelectric has also announced financial close on its 4.6 MW wind farm at Skrine, Co. Roscommon with Triodos Bank, which specialises in ethical and sustainable investment. The Skrine wind farm will be operational by July 2011.

Ford Meets Churches

The NI Justice Minister David Ford has this week met with representatives of the four main churches to discuss building a shared future. The meeting focused on what role the churches could play in improving the prospects of a more positive parading season this summer. They also discussed how to tackle the issue of disaffected youth, prisons and community safety. "We discussed a wide range of issues, including the work of the Department in relation to young people and prisons as well as the problems associated with contentious parades," the Minister said. "Building a new shared future will not happen overnight and must have support at all levels across society. It is clear that the churches play an important role in addressing community concerns and tensions and I look forward to working closely with them in the future."

Limerick Teen Jailed Over Gun

A 19-year old man has been jailed for six years for possession of a semi-automatic weapon and ammunition in Limerick. John Collins of Monabraher Road, Ballynanty, in Limerick pleaded guilty to the charges at Limerick Circuit Court. Gardaí described Collins as 'a foot soldier for the Dundon McCarthy criminal gang and that the gun was to be used in a 'retaliation gun attack' following the shooting of another gang member.

(BMcC/GK)

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