Irish coalition government is agreed

by Patrick McPartlin

Fine Gael and Labour have agreed a coalition to form the next Irish government. The two parties, who won 76 seats and 37 seats respectively in elections on February 25th, have not been in power since 1997. The coalition government have pinpointed making a reduction to the budget deficit as well as creating more jobs and renegotiating the EU-led bailout of €85bn.

In November of last year, the government proposed an increase in taxes and a reduction in spending in order to reduce the deficit by €6bn. Labour are said to prefer tax increases to trim the shortfall, while Fine Gael are planning on speeding up proposed budget cuts. However, both parties are keen to lower the interest rate on the EU and International Monetary Fund loan.

The general election saw the heaviest defeat for Fianna Fail, who have been in power for the past 14 years and, since 1932, have ruled Ireland for three out of every four years. Winning a mere 20 seats, Fianna Fail will be the main opposition party in the Dublin-based Dáil, the Irish Parliament.

Football: SPL round-up

by Tony Garner

In the SPL both Old Firm sides won at the weekend to keep the title race bubbling almost as high as the bad blood between them. Goals from Kris Commons helped Celtic beat Hamilton 2-0 on Saturday, while Kyle Bartley was Rangers’ unlikely goal hero as they squeezed past St Mirren 1-0 on Sunday.

Hearts faint hopes of troubling the top two seem to be over after a 2-0 home reverse against Kilmarnock. Silva and Eremenko, who was later sent off, were on target for the visitors.

Shane Sutherland, Richie Foran and Alex MacDonald were the scorers as Caley Thistle had a confidence boosting 3-0 win at home to Motherwell. In the weekend’s only draw St Johnstone and Hibernian ended 1-1 at McDiarmid park, with David Wotherspoon cancelling out Richie Towell’s own goal.

Red Card for Old Firm behaviour

by Patrick McPartlin

The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, venue for Tuesday's summit



The ripples from last Wednesday’s explosive Scottish Cup replay between Celtic and Rangers continue to spread, with former First Minister Henry McLeish requesting both teams to “put their house in order” on the eve of a summit at Holyrood. Representatives of both clubs, the Scottish football authorities and the police will be present at the summit. Continue reading Red Card for Old Firm behaviour

Pro-Gaddafi forces resist rebels’ attacks

by Tina Charon

Picture : giladlotan on Flickr. Protest in London to support the Libyan revolution.
Picture : giladlotan on Flickr. Protest in London to support the Libyan revolution.



About one month after the beginning of the Libyan revolution, Gaddafi’s government is still in power.

A few cities are no longer under the control of the Libyan leader, but the state forces keep resisting and attacking the rebels. Misrata, the third city of Libya, is still controlled by the rebels, but other cities, like Ben Djaouad, have now been recovered by Gaddafi’s army. In Ben Djaouad, at least twelve people have died since the beginning of the confrontation between forces and rebels, and about fifty have been severely injured. Continue reading Pro-Gaddafi forces resist rebels’ attacks

Mother pleads guilty to murdering her three children

Riggi faces sentencing today

by Jen McClure and Anne Mackie

Today at Edinburgh’s High Court, Theresa Riggi admitted to killing her three children.  Theresa, 47, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide with diminished responsibility over the deaths.

Riggi killed eight year-old twins, Austin and Luke, and their five year-old sister, Cecilia, at their family home in Edinburgh last August. Their bodies were discovered together in Riggi’s bed with multiple stab wounds, following a suspected gas explosion at the property. Riggi then jumped from the flat window in an attempt to commit suicide. Originally charged with murder, Theresa Riggi surprised courts as she pleaded guilty. Father of the children, Pasquale Riggi was present at the hearing this morning where he said he was “paralysed with grief.”

Witness statements have been taken and sentencing is expected soon.

Census 2011 process begins

by Gráinne Byrne

Scotland’s biggest population survey will drop through the letterboxes of over 2.5 million addresses from today.

The once a decade head-count will inform Government and policymakers about how to position vital services such as healthcare, housing and education.

The Registrar General for Scotland, Duncan Macniven, who is charged with organising the census said: “For many young people, and people from the rest of the world who have made Scotland their home, such as many of the SPL’s football stars, 2011 is the first time that they have been responsible for filling in a census questionnaire. This month, they have their chance to make a permanent mark on Scotland.

The census will be filled in by householders on 27 March 2011 and have an impact for ten years.

Single police force consultation slammed by police chiefs

by Gráinne Byrne

Under the new proposals force numbers may be depleted

Senior police officers have hit out at the Scottish Government over its consultation on streamlining the police system in Scotland.

In a letter to Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, Kevin Smith, vice-president of Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS), accuses the Government of misleading the public, saying ‘the consultation process would have benefited from a more neutral perspective.’

The government is consulting on the future of policing in Scotland, including a proposed single ‘blue-services’ force. This would merge police, fire and ambulance services. The merge would make an alleged saving of almost £200 million.

Earlier this year, David Strang, chief constable of Lothian and Borders, spoke out saying that he feared that the cuts were “dangerous’’ and would cut police officer numbers “by several thousand”.

The consultation comes to a close on 5 May 2011 and the responsibility of the future of policing will fall into the hands of the incoming government.

Cancer numbers for women double

by Katy Docherty

Smoking trends are being reflected in diagnoses of lung cancer

The number of women diagnosed with lung cancer annually has more than doubled since the 1970s, according to figures released today by UK Cancer Research.

15,100 women over 60 were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008: a giant leap when compared to the 5,700 diagnosed in 1975.

But for men there has been a drop in the number of diagnoses, with the number falling from 23,400 in 1975 to 19,400 in 2008.

As a reduction in diagnoses mirrors a reduction in smoking, the figures reflect the smoking trends of 20 to 30 years ago. Men were the main smokers of the 40s and 50s, whereas in the 60s and 70s it became more popular for women to smoke. The long-term effects of these trends can be seen in cancer figures: in the 1980s the number of diagnoses for women began to fall but then started to rise again in 2002. Continue reading Cancer numbers for women double

The cyclists’ path to happiness

by Sandra Juncu

New smartphone technology is set to make cycling easier in Edinburgh

Good news for cyclists in Edinburgh. With the development of Innertube, a new hi-tech travel service designed to help those getting around by bike, cycling in the city is about to become a whole lot easier.

The Innertube, developed by The Bike Station through their Climate Challenge Fund, is a map inspired by the London Underground. It charts cycle paths and footpaths in the city. The interactive system will allow cyclists to use their smart phones and send pictures of difficult areas. A team of advisers would review these images and add them to the online map. Continue reading The cyclists’ path to happiness

Baroness hails Scottish identity

by Katy Docherty

Muslims have adopted a kilts and turbans attitude

Baroness Warsi has credited the strong Scottish national identity for avoiding the pitfalls of fascism and religious extremism.

The Scottish culture is welcoming to others

On a recent visit to Glasgow, the Conservative party co-chairperson hailed Scots for having a strong culture and heritage which everybody could “buy into” regardless of race or religion: “There is some very distinctive Scottish culture, so you find regularly Sikhs turning up in kilts for their wedding, with the turban on as well.”

The Baroness added that England could learn from the Scottish example by building a stronger sense of culture. The lack of identity in England has led to young men being easily swayed towards islamic extremism or far-right groups like the English Defence League, she argues.

“It’s about the strength of the culture that you arrive into. And I think the strength of the culture in England, over the last 15 to 20 years, has been downgraded in a way that hasn’t happened in Scotland.”

Her comments come a month after David Cameron announced that state multiculturalism had failed, an assertion which Baroness Warsi has been vocal in her support for.

In January Baroness Warsi said that Islamophobia was “rife” in the UK and had become commonplace at dinner parties.

Should he stay or should he go?

by Sandra Juncu

Prince Andrew may have to leave his position as Trade Ambassador


Prince Andrew’s role as UK Trade Ambassador might come to an end due to his friendship with US financier and recently convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.

The scandal began last week after a picture was published of Prince Andrew with his arm around Virginia Roberts, aged 17. Roberts, who accused Jeffrey Epstein and his friends of sexual exploitation, declared that she met the prince at Epstein’s house where he allegedly enjoyed regular massages. Prince Andrew firmly denies all accusations.

Opinions in Downing Street are mixed. Continue reading Should he stay or should he go?