Video: Budget talks, French military exercise off Irish coast, Covid concerns

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Government plans to slash childcare costs in budget

The Government is to prioritise childcare fees in the next budget as part of a plan to cut costs for families.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it is the objective of government to look at the affordability issues of childcare.

The Government is looking at different ways to slash costs for householders as parts of its cost-of-living budget in October.

It has so far resisted calls to bring in an emergency budget, with Mr Martin saying they cannot chase inflation on a month-to-month basis.

Wait until next budget for help with cost of living, Taoiseach says

The Taoiseach has said the country must wait until the next budget for the cost-of-living crisis to be comprehensively addressed.

Micheál Martin said the October budget will make a substantial difference to those experiencing economic hardship but all but ruled out further measures over the summer.

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Speaking in the wake of several street protests over price rises, Mr Martin said the cost of living was not something that could be chased from month to month.

In an interview on Newstalk, Mr Martin said the summer economic statement would be the key next milestone in relation to the budget and the cost-of-living issue as it would “lay out what is available in terms of funds”.

The Government is soon set to publish the summer economic statement, a strategy for managing public finances. Some newspaper reports on Sunday suggested the Cabinet could soon approve a boost in social welfare and further measures to ease pressure on petrol costs.

French military exercise to take place off Irish coast tonight

A French military exercise planned off the Irish coast has been brought forward to tonight.

An updated marine notice from the Department of Transport indicates the exercise, involving missile and rocket firing, will get under way at 2am.

It is due to take place for 14 hours daily up to Friday, and will also be held again next Monday.

The exercise will take place off the southern coast, outside Irish territorial waters, but within the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone, which is patrolled by the Irish Naval Service.

Fishermen from the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation, based in Castletownbere, at the weekend said they were “formulating a plan of action” to prevent “potential catastrophic environmental damage” from the exercise.

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Chief executive Patrick Murphy on Monday called for the Government to intervene.

"Where's our sovereignty? Where [are] the people that are meant to represent us, to stand up for us? Like what happened the last time - where are they gone this time?" he told Newstalk radio.

Citizenship ceremonies

The first in-person citizenship ceremonies in more than two years took place on Monday in Killarney where just under 1,000 people were conferred in two formal ceremonies.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD, retired High Court judge Bryan MacMahon and retired District Court judge Paddy McMahon presided at the events in INEC Killarney.

Candidates from dozens of countries took an oath of fidelity to the nation, received certificates of naturalisation and left the INEC as full Irish citizens.

Citizenship ceremonies were introduced in 2011, and they took place largely at the Convention Centre in Dublin.

Prior to this citizens were sworn in and took an oath of loyalty to the State during the regular sittings of the District Courts.

The ceremonies have been held in Killarney since 2018.

HSE 'very concerned' over rising Covid numbers - Dr Colm Henry

The HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has said mandatory mask-wearing will only be introduced if the “situation gets worse” in relation to Covid numbers.

Dr Henry acknowledged the HSE was “very concerned” at the rise in cases in recent weeks which was largely driven by the sub variants BA4 and BA5.

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However, the number of cases in ICU had remained steady (23) which was reassuring, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

While 70 per cent of the cases at present were of the new more transmissible variants, he predicted that numbers will begin to decline within a few weeks as had happened in Portugal where numbers were already dropping once the peak had passed.

Dr Gerald Barry, a UCD virologist, told BreakingNews.ie that he believes there should be more focus on attempts to reduce the spread of Covid in the population.

Dr Barry said the hospital numbers were a "microcosm" of what is happening in the population as cases rise.

He said better communication to the public could help with future waves, and questioned why people were not warned about the current increase as data was available five or six weeks ago.

Simple advice like resuming mask-wearing in crowded spaces, and regularly antigen testing, should have been made before this week, according to Dr Barry.

"It frustrates me that these conversations aren’t going on at a senior political level, or at least don’t appear to be," he said.

Phoebe Bridgers to kick off Fairview Park gigs despite resident concerns

A series of concerts will get under away at Fairview Park in Dublin this evening, with Phoebe Bridgers up first.

Nine gigs will take place over the next fortnight, but some concerns have been raised among residents.

There has been some anger among residents on the North Strand side of the park, as they claim they weren't consulted over how close the stage would be to their homes.

Meetings took place with Dublin City Council last week over the issues, which have reportedly yet to be resolved.

However, some residents are still pleased with the gigs.

One told Newstalk: "It's brilliant, absolutely brilliant, I'm dying to hear it on tonight." Another added: "Wonderful... it's a great idea. We live just down the road and can hear it from the front door."

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