Covid rule changes
The Government has signed off on plans to relax the rules for close contacts of Covid-19 cases, with the changes to take effect from midnight on Thursday.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly admitted there is “an element of risk” in the changes to isolation rules and said there needed to be a continued focus on antigen testing and wearing higher grade masks.
An online portal to allow people to upload positive antigen test results and close contact details will be put in place in the next few days, he confirmed, with the Health Service Executive (HSE) working through final logistics before it can go live.
As the Omicron variant sweeps across Europe, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has estimated that up to half a million people may have been infected in Ireland last week.
Tougher public health measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant triggered a rise in unemployment to 7.5 per cent last month, up from 6.9 per cent in November.
Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, the Minister for Health Robin Swann has made a new request for military assistance to help relieve Covid pressures in hospitals.
Laws to address 'failures of the State'
New laws giving adopted people access to their birth certificates and early life information will finally address “failures of the State”, the Minister for Children has said.
Roderic O’Gorman published the long-awaited Birth Information and Tracing Bill on Wednesday, which he said would give adopted people and others the rights to personal information that they have been denied for too long.
Successive governments have failed to legislate on the issue, saying the right to privacy of the mother outweighed the rights of adopted people to information such as birth and baptismal certificates.
Adoptees will be given priority to access such information, while birth mothers will be able to state a “no contact” preference which will be relayed to adopted children, if they wish.
Used car costs
Used car prices have risen 56 per cent on average over the last two years, according to a report by online marketplace Donedeal.
Analysis of used car prices on its site found prices rose by an average of 7.7 per cent over the last three months of 2021, hitting what it claims are record levels of price growth.
The report’s author, Dr Tom Gillespie, an environmental economist at NUIG, said: “The supply chain disruption caused by the pandemic and the realisation of Brexit market consequences resulted in a perfect storm for used car price inflation.”
The report forecasts that the elements contributing to car price inflation are showing few signs of easing in the short term. For buyers looking to trade in their old cars, it means they have stronger bargaining chips as car dealers struggle to maintain their inventor, according to Dr Gillespie.
Beaches for charity
An 80-year-old who cannot swim is currently visiting as many beaches as he can in the name of charity.
Paddy Coughlan is braving the elements to raise money for a children's counselling service in Donegal.
"It's like a day's work, get up in the morning and keep going until it's dark," he said.
Today in the courts
Britain's Prince Andrew will be tried over allegations he sexually assaulted Virginia Giuffre when she was underage after a US judge ruled on Wednesday that her civil lawsuit can proceed.
At home in the Central Criminal Court, the parents of two small children who were sexually abused by their uncle while he was babysitting them have described the attacks as “a parent's worst nightmare”.
A man who had sex with his teenage cousin in the grounds of a church meanwhile received a prison sentence of 30 months in the same court this afternoon.
A Donegal man who repeatedly raped a teenager in the county over 25 years ago has been jailed for 10 years, with his victim telling the Central Criminal Court he was put through four trials and six years of “complete torture” in his quest for justice.
A university student who stole nearly €7,000 from his newsagent employer to help pay for his masters course in dispute resolution received 120 hours of community service in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
In the High Court, leave was granted to a company to challenge a refusal of planning permission for a development in Carrickmines, Co Dublin.