News in Brief

By Frank Shouldice, Contributor
Febuary / March 2006

IRISH growers thank good climate conditions for producing a bumper crop of 800,000 Christmas trees this year. Varieties of fir, pine and spruce are the most popular, half of which are destined for the export market. Growers will also benefit from an Irish market valued at close to 15 million…

DUBLIN port resumed normal trade after a bitter two-week industrial dispute at Irish Ferries. The company, which operates passenger and freight services from Ireland to Britain and France, wanted to replace Irish crewmembers with lowerpaid shipping crews from Eastern Europe. Existing staff was offered generous redundancy packages by the company, but some crewmembers, backed by their trade unions, opposed the move. There is growing fear that `outsourcing’ jobs will seriously undermine employment in Ireland. The dispute at Irish Ferries led to protest marches at cities around the country and a costly strike, which paralyzed the company for almost two weeks…

A TOTAL of 132 books were nominated for next year’s lucrative Impac Dublin Literary Award. Worth 100,000 to the winner, the award is the most lucrative prize for a single literary work. The long list is compiled by nominations received from 180 libraries in 124 cities around the world, and a panel of five judges will select a winner. Contenders for 2006 include Marilynne Robinson (Gilead), Lily Tuck (The News from Paraguay), David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas), Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty) and although no Irish writer has ever won the Impac Award, several are included on the long list, including Ronan Bennett (Havoc in its Third Year), Roddy Doyle (Oh, Play that Thing), Frank Delaney (Ireland), Colm Tóibin (The Master), Tina Reilly (Something Borrowed) and Cecelia Ahern (PS I Love You). By next April the 132 entries will be cut to a shortlist of ten. The winner will be announced in June…

TOURISM agency Fáilte Ireland has called for an end to a tax relief scheme designed for the hospitality trade. Under the scheme, investors can claim tax breaks for building hotels but tourism leaders feel the initiative has fulfilled its purpose. Fáilte Ireland’s annual conference was told that greater effort was needed to improve attractions and activities for tourists…

WATERFORD fishermen made a surprise discovery when they hauled in bottles of Carolan’s Irish Cream as part of their catch. Three trawlers, which set out from Dunmore East to harvest prawns, found a supply of liquor bottles caught in their nets. C&C International, which makes Carolan’s, confirmed that 8,000 bottles were lost at sea when a cargo ship bound for Spain reported losing a 40-foot container overboard during a storm in the Bay of Biscay…

A LOBBY group made up of business interests has called for studies into building an underwater tunnel between Ireland and Wales by 2025. The group, Chambers Ireland, conducted a transport survey of businesses and found that 74 percent of respondents were in favor of a tunnel beneath the Irish Sea. Businesses also reported dissatisfaction with the Irish road system, particularly the condition of secondary roads. Chief Executive John Dunne called for a 2011 deadline to be set for construction of the proposed “Atlantic Roadway” from Letterkenny, Co. Donegal down the western seaboard to Waterford…

THE Dalai Lama made a three-day visit to Northern Ireland. The 70-year-old Tibetan Buddhist leader attended the opening in Belfast of a new center at Mediation Northern Ireland. The center will be dedicated to conflict resolution. “The only weapon is compassion,” the exiled monk told a gathering. “With forgiveness, then the real peace, real reconciliation is possible.” ♦

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