Thousands of homes without power in storms

 

Saturday

Hurricane-force winds struck the midlands, north and northwest, knocking down 1,800 ESB poles, causing more than 8,000 power-line breaks and leaving 160,000 households without electricity. Falling trees killed two men, while a third died after a fall which occurred while he was fixing a storm-damaged roof in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Met Eireann said the winds, which reached 109 m.p.h. at Malin Head in Co Donegal, were the strongest to hit the island since the tail-end of Hurricane Debbie struck in 1961.

The Revenue Commissioners lodged an appeal with the Circuit Court against an Appeal Commissioner's decision to reduce to zero a £2 million tax assessment for the former Taoiseach, Mr Charles Haughey.

The death was announced of Mr Cathal Goulding, revolutionary, life-long agitator and former chiefof-staff of the IRA. A teenage Fianna Eireann member in the 1930s, becoming an IRA man in the 1940s, he was a key figure in the violent splits that led to the formation in the 1970s of what became the Workers' Party.

Mr Goulding spent 16 years in British and Irish jails, and recently described the merger of the Labour and Democratic Left parties as the ultimate betrayal of the Irish working class.

Sunday

The ESB reconnected 100,000 households in the north-west; a number of sporting fixtures, including a four-day race meeting at Limerick, was cancelled due to the bad weather.

Gardai in Co Longford opened a murder investigation following the death of a publican who was found with a wound in his chest on his premises in Clondra, near the Shannon. In Dublin gardai said they were looking for two men in connection with a stabbing in which one man died and two others were injured following an altercation in the Liberties in the early hours of the morning.

Monday

Orangemen and their supporters assembled at Drumcree, Co Armagh, and reaffirmed their intention to continue their nightly protest until the Portadown Orange District is allowed to walk down the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

One local Orangeman said: "We have maintained this protest since July despite all attempts by the Northern Ireland Office and the media to discredit us. We have no intention of calling it off now. In fact, if anything, the protest will increase from now on."

Retailers in Dublin reported a 10 per cent increase in business as the post-Christmas sales got under way. Taken with the pre-Christmas shopping spree, it was estimated that £660 million would be spent in Dublin by the new year.

Every elderly person should be entitled to a monitored alarm system, Mr Jim Quigley, president of the rural community organisation, Muintir na Tire, said.

The combination of stormy weather and attacks on the elderly raised fears among old people living alone, said Mr Quigley. Muintir na Tire, he added, would be calling on the Government to provide more money for security grants to help the elderly this year.

Tuesday

As households in the north-west attempted to return to normal after the St Stephen's Day weather, new storms hit the south of the country following a night of freezing conditions.

Heavy rain and winds hampered the work of the ESB, leaving 12,000 people still without power by nightfall. In the North, the electricity industry regulator, Ofreg, criticised Northern Ireland Electricity for failing to provide customers with up-to-date information during the power cuts.

In the south, flood waters continued to rise, leaving thousands of acres of Cork and Kerry under water.

The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, said the more difficult encounters with Taoisigh during her tenure as president were with Mr Charles Haughey.

Referring to her relationship with Mr Haughey, during a lengthy interview on the Pat Kenny radio show, she also said he had failed to defend the Presidency during the controversy involving the staff at Aras an Uachtarain.

A register of sex offenders will be introduced this year, a spokesman for the Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue said. Gardai issued a warning to parents and children to beware of a child abductor following an incident in Limerick city in which a man tried to lure a 12-year-old girl into his car.

Wednesday

The Blackwater burst its banks, flooding the towns of Mallow and Fermoy in Co Cork. In Mallow more than 50 premises and homes were hit by rising floodwaters in the early hours of the morning.

Downstream in Fermoy the main bridge in the town which carries the main Cork-Dublin road was closed from early morning. As flood waters reached four feet deep, troops from Collins Barracks in Cork, using high-sided lorries, were deployed to ferry people about the town.

The RUC Chief Constable, Mr Ronnie Flanagan, and the senior Ulster Unionist Party politician, Mr Reg Empey, received knighthoods in the British New Year's honours list. A total of 67 people in the North, including 13 RUC officers, were honoured.

Thursday

Finance ministers met in Brussels to give formal approval to the fixed rates at which currencies will be exchanged against the euro. The new currency was launched in Finland first, at 10 p.m. Irish time; then an hour later in eight countries of mainland Europe and finally, at midnight, in Ireland and Portugal.

As the clean-up operation after the Christmas storms continued it emerged that the damage caused to homes may be more than £100 million.

In the north-west a small number of outlying homes were still without power, while in the south Met Eireann warned of strong winds and possible further rain. Racing planned for Cork on Saturday was cancelled.