Video: Health system 'to be challenged', two in court over Ballyfermot assault, staff shortages

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Hospitals under increased pressure

The Irish health system will be “challenged” in the coming days, as the country nears the peak of the current wave of Covid-19, it was claimed.

Health officials warned on Friday that the latest wave of Covid-19, fuelled by the Omicron variant, was causing significant disruption to the health service.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said that many staff remained absent due to Covid-19.

He said that in some areas, restrictions on hospital visits had been arranged in response to the latest wave with elective surgeries also impacted.

Two in court over Ballyfermot assault

Two men have been granted bail with strict conditions after they were charged with attacking a teenage girl and her friend who were seriously injured in Dublin last week.

Darragh Lyons and Jack Cummins, both aged 18, were ordered by a judge to obey curfews which will be checked by gardaí.

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The 17-year-old girl, who cannot be identified because she is a juvenile, and a male teenager, were both hospitalised after an assault in west Dublin at approximately 9.40pm on December 30th.

They were remanded on €200 bail to appear again on April 1st.

Seamus Woulfe gives evidence at 'Golfgate' trial

A Supreme Court judge has given evidence in the trial of four men accused of breaching Covid-19 regulations, saying he had a “hazy, broad knowledge” of guidelines for the reopening of the hospitality sector.

Seamus Woulfe told the trial of two politicians and two hoteliers the guidelines were Government approved.

The former Attorney General was appointed to the Supreme Court in July 2020, a month before the controversy over his attendance at a golf club dinner.

Galway East Independent TD Noel Grealish, 55; former Fianna Fail senator Donie Cassidy, 75; and John Sweeney, 60, and his son James Sweeney, 32, who own and run the Station House Hotel, are on trial accused of illegally holding the Oireachtas Golf Society event.

Multiple sectors struggle with staff shortages

Staff shortages related to Covid-19 have hit a number of sectors, with many organisations saying temporary changes may be introduced to deal with the absences.

Figures from the HSE on Thursday showed an average of 12.5 per cent of overall staff are absent either because they have tested positive for Covid or are a close contact of a confirmed case.

Meanwhile, The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has said some pharmacies have had to reduce hours or close for certain days due to Covid-related staff shortages, adding that community pharmacies are under “significant pressure”.

Bus Éireann said it is experiencing “minor disruption” due to Covid-related absences and An Post has warned some post offices may have to close temporarily.

Tradfest returns

Tradfest, one of Irelands major folk festivals, will return in January.

It comes as musicians are facing another difficult year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Meanwhile, venues such as pubs and cafés will be offered grants of at least €10,000 to stage nighttime events from the spring under new plans being worked on by the Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin.

Ms Martin has also said applications for the artist’s basic income pilot could open as early as February with the weekly payment set to be in region of €325.

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