Video: End of mandatory mask-wearing, Taoiseach meets the German chancellor

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Cabinet approves end to mandatory mask-wearing

The Taoiseach has warned that the pandemic is not over, as the State prepares to drop mandatory mask-wearing rules.

The Cabinet met on Tuesday morning to approve the recommendation from senior health officials, bringing to an end some of the last remaining Covid-19 restrictions left in the country.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar confirmed earlier that the legal requirement would lapse from February 28th.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, he told reporters that there will be no legal requirement to wear a mask in any setting, but it will still be advised on public transport and in healthcare settings.

Mr Varadkar also announced the requirement for pods, staggered breaks, masks and physical distancing in schools will also end on February 28th.

Excavation and recovery of remains at Tuam

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said that the Institutional Burials Bill which has just received Government approval will allow the country “at long last, to afford the children interred at Tuam a dignified and respectful burial.”

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Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Mr O’Gorman explained that the Bill will provide the legal basis for the long awaited forensic excavation, recovery and analysis of remains at the site of the former Mother and Baby Institution in Tuam.

It is believed that the remains of up to 800 babies were buried in “manifestly inappropriate” conditions.

Mr O’Gorman added that he hoped the agency that will oversee the process will be established before the end of the year by which time he also hopes the work of retrieving DNA on site can commence.

Taoiseach attends meeting with German chancellor

The Taoiseach has said he still hopes war can be avoided in Europe, as the crisis in Ukraine continues to escalate.

Earlier, Micheál Martin stood beside Olaf Scholz as the German chancellor announced that the country had taken steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to the West.

Mr Scholz said his government made the decision in response to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine that he said marked a “serious break of international law”.

At the press conference, Mr Martin joined the condemnation of the move, which has fuelled concerns about an escalating conflict in the region and stoked fears of a full-scale assault by Russia on Ukraine.

The EU is set to announce sanctions on Russia in the wake of the announcement from Mr Putin.

Parents concerned over child food poverty

New research launched today found that 25 per cent of parents often worry about not being able to provide food for their children and nearly three in 10 people in Ireland have witnessed child food poverty first-hand.

The research was launched by national children’s charity Barnardos and leading grocery retailer Aldi Ireland. The research comes as the charity hosts a forum on child food poverty today

The new research, conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of Barnardos and Aldi Ireland, explores both the prevalence and impact of food poverty in Ireland on vulnerable children and families. The study found that 9 per cent of parents feel “close” to food poverty.

Families are particularly affected by this issue, with 10 per cent of parents and those looking after children skipping meals in an average week in order to feed the children in their care, increasing to almost 30 per cent when including those who report doing so “occasionally”.

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