By Patrick Markey
Former football great George Best is hitting the bottle again.
After signing up to star in animated ads for milk, the Belfast-born sports idol has been brought to life as a cartoon for the £9 million "The White Stuff" campaign and will do his character’s voice over himself, in the style of "The Simpsons."
The Belfast Telegraph reports that other stars will appear in the commercials, including the cream of the British boxing world, Prince Naseem Hamed and Chris Eubank.
Best fought a long battle alcoholism which saw him hospitalized and close to death earlier this year. His milk promotion campaign is expected to feature a string of future cameos.
Best’s ad features him drinking milk in a football club shop, while in another ad Prince Naseem is rescued by a young girl.
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Andrew Ovens, marketing manager for the National Dairy Council, said the high-profile campaign is about making milk famous and reminding people to drink more of it.
"The campaign’s combination of lively animation with humor and the use of well-known celebrities will put The White Stuff on the lips of everyone."
A group of holidaymakers from Kilmacanogue narrowly escaped serious injury when the restaurant where they were eating was blown to bits by a freak gas explosion.
Two diners were taken to hospital after being caught by flying glass and debris in the blast, which devastated the restaurant where they had been eating in Killarney on a recent weekend.
The Bray People newspaper reports that Alan Fox, who was hospitalized for cuts and bruises, said the group was lucky to be alive after the explosion, which reduced the popular Cronin’s Restaurant into a mess of tangled debris.
"We had only just evacuated from the restaurant, and I was just after peering back in through the glass when the whole thing went up," the local man said.
"I was fortunate to have had my back to the window, but the two girls I was with were knocked to the ground, and a man standing beside us just collapsed onto the ground and was badly bleeding," he said.
Fox said he had just tucking into his first course when a waitress told his group that the management were concerned about a gas leak. The bank holiday blast has been blamed on a faulty propane gas container in an open backyard adjacent to the restaurant kitchens.
The explosion prompted a major security alert as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his partner, Celia Larkin, were staying in the nearby Great Southern Hotel.
Sectarian troubles arrived in Drogheda this week after the unveiling of a plaque honoring the foundation of the Orange Order. The event met with protests by demonstrators.
The Drogheda Independent reports that Mayor Sean Collins called the plaque a move toward reconciliation.
"It was a very pleasant day. I was delighted to be invited, I believe that we’ll never have peace until we start considering and absorbing each others’ traditions, and I felt that we were breaking some ground on that," he said.
But no Orange members were present at the ceremony and guests were greeted by jeering members of the nationalist Irish National Congress, some of whom carried placards that read: "Dublin says no to sectarianism."
Another protester carried a large orange banner comparing the Orange Order to the Ku Klux Klan.
But Mayor Collins brushed off the criticism saying he was glad the protesters were showing there was room for everyone in democracy.
"They called me a bigot, but I’ve been called worse and survived," he said. "It was an interesting day and an interesting event to record."