Leprechaun Breeding Programme On Track, says Minister

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar today announced that his ambitious Leprechaun breeding programme is running on schedule. The first leprechauns are expected to be released into the wild in early spring 2013 as part of The Foraging Ireland tourism initiative.

Varadkar was speaking at a press conference in the Smurfit School of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, where the breeding programme is being carried out. The initiative, named Tuath Nua after the Tuatha dé Danann, was set up in early 2012 to fulfill a Fine Gael general election promise to "develop Ireland's potential as a tourist destination". Minister Varadkar explains the initiative as follows:

"Tourists come to Ireland expecting to see leprechauns but unfortunately the population of leprechauns in the wild has declined to such an extent that the last confirmed sighting of one was almost five years ago. To this end, we have put in place a programme that will create leprechauns, through genetic engineering, to replenish the natural population. We hope that this initiative will encourage overseas visitors to come to Ireland for a more authentic Irish experience. After the success of the National Leprechaun Museum this was the next logical step."

Today's press conference also marked the first time that journalists have been granted access to the secure genetic engineering facility at Trinity College. The head of the programme, Japanese Professor Ken Tekajoke, was on hand to explain the breeding process:

"We were unable to retrieve authentic leprechaun DNA due to the decline of the wild population so the first step was to collate the correct genetic material for building Leprechaun DNA. We did this by collecting DNA from hundreds of donors that matched some or all of the relevant characteristics: Small in stature, Irish, cunning, red haired, elusive, cute hoor etc. Once we had collected enough donor samples we were able to splice together the desired genetic elements to create the Leprechaun DNA. From there the process is identical to the creation of a test tube baby."

The identities of the donors are being kept secret but Prof. Tekajoke did release doctored photographs that explain the desired characteristics but protect the donors' anonymity. The first leprechauns are expected to be released in March 2013, as part of the St. Patrick's Festival.

Foraging Ireland My Idea Claims Keane

Keane: Tourism Initiative My Idea
Republic of Ireland soccer captain Robbie Keane today claimed that he came up with the idea for The Foraging Ireland 2013 "a few years ago" and that the government should compensate or acclaim him for the initiative.

Speaking in Los Angeles, where he plays for MLS club side L.A. Galaxy Caramel, Keane said that the idea first came to him on a visit home to Tallaght while he was starring for Italian club Internazionale. "I had just arrived back from Milan and my two childhood mates Mickser and Aido had just finished a brief stint in the 'Joy. We met up for a few jars one evening and thought it would be a great idea to organise a platform for every Irish person abroad to reunite with old friends and family."

When asked why he didn't pursue the idea at the time Keane claimed he was too busy with his soccer career. However, now that he has played for all of the teams on the extensive list of clubs that he supported as a child he has the time to pursue his other passions.

"Even as a little boy growing up in Tallaght I dreamed of one day developing an international tourism initiative for Ireland. I'm a massive fan of the initiative, it's a massive initiative with great fans and I'm looking forward to doing my best for the initiative in the coming months."

In related news, police in Tórshavn continued their search for Jonathan Walters' football boots, which went missing in the minutes after the Republic of Ireland's 4-1 win over the Faroe Islands on Tuesday night. Police say they are keeping an open mind on the case but admitted that one line of inquiry was that the boots were taken in an effort to destroy evidence that Walters' had actually scored the Republic's second goal, a goal which Robbie Keane claimed as his own. Keane was unavailable for comment on the matter.

Militia to Enforce Local Foragings

Communties around the country have been busy preparing themselves for The Foraging 2013, not least the local armed militia that will ensure no timewasters gain access to the wealth of tourist sites on offer. 

The biggest fear amongst these groups is that wallet-light tourists such as backpackers and cyclists will try to benefit from The Foraging without contributing sufficiently to local coffers during their stay.

These local militia are grouping themselves under the banner of Fóraigí na hÉireann, or Foraging Armed Groups, and will be setting up roadblocks throughout The Foraging 2013. These checkpoints will be set up randomly outside local towns, heritage sites, places of interest and throughout areas of outstanding natural beauty. 

Speaking at today's press conference the F.A.G.'s leadership described their role as one of encouragement rather than discouragement. "We want everyone to enjoy The Foraging equally, but some tourists are more equal than others." 

When pressed about how they will deal with tight-arsed tourists at the checkpoints the F.A.G. responded to say that they will give the following ultimatum: To Hell or To Longford.

How much do we owe?