Decision due on hospitality closing time
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said everyone is "feeling anger" as the Omicron variant threatens to derail Christmas plans and bring about further restrictions on socialising.
In a tweet posted on Friday morning, Mr Varadkar pointed to recent progress in the Covid situation, with the number of patients in hospital down 40 per cent from a peak a few weeks ago.
"We were winning the fight against Delta. Now Omicron is coming when we are at our most vulnerable - winter, Christmas, flu season. It’s a cruel virus," he said.
"We're all feeling anger, frustration, dismay, depression but that cannot deflect us from making the right decisions to keep our people safe," he added.
His comments come as he and other Ministers are set to consider an earlier closing time for hospitality and curtailed crowds at sports events following fresh advice from public health advisers over the rapid spread of the variant.
Several media outlets reported late on Thursday that Ministers will consider a 5pm curfew for hospitality alongside limits on spectators on sporting events.
Government sources told The Irish Times that the mood had “darkened” around coming weeks and that major sporting events such as the Leopardstown races and forthcoming rugby fixtures hung in the balance.
There is also a question around upcoming gigs and concerts after it emerged the Omicron variant now accounts for 27 per cent of Covid cases.
Backlash from Senators and TDs
Senators and TDs, many from Coalition parties, have spoken out against the proposal for a 5pm hospitality closing time.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has made the recommendation to Government at it will be discussed at Cabinet before an expected address from Taoiseach Micheál Martin this evening.
Businesses and the public have been widely critical of the proposal, and they have been joined by numerous Senators and TDs.
Seanad Leader Regina Doherty tweeted: "If Nphet are really saying that 2 double vaccinated and boosted people can’t have a pizza and a pint after 5pm then I give up."
Former Minister Michael Ring has called on the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to reject the advise submitted to the Government leaders late last night.
Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin called the recommendation "an insult to our businesses people and workers in hospitality" and said it "has been floated and has caused enormous worry and stress to so many people".
Senator Malcolm Byrne said he is "totally opposed" to the Nphet proposal for a 5pm closing time. "It will simply lead to an increase in house parties," he added.
Woman receives life sentence for murder of brother in Cork
A man whose brother was killed by their sister has told her sentencing hearing that he has been unable to get over the "savage" killing which involved father-of-one Paul Jones being stabbed 25 times and hit over the head with a bill hook.
Helen Jones and her former partner, Keith O'Hara, received mandatory life sentences on Friday for the murder of Mr Jones (55) who was murdered at his home at Bandon Road in the Lough, Cork city on September 4th, 2019.
A ten-person Central Criminal Court jury, sitting in Cork, delivered a unanimous guilty verdict for both co-accused on Thursday following a lengthy trial.
Mr Justice Michael McGrath imposed the life sentences on the pair for the "senseless, violent and frenzied attack" on Mr Jones.
The murder occurred amid a dispute over the ownership of the Jones family home in Cahergal Avenue in Mayfield, Cork city. The two defendants were living in the house prior to the murder, however the property was being sold with Helen due to receive a portion of the sale.
Rachael Blackmore crowned Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year
Rachael Blackmore, the first female jockey to win the Aintree Grand National, has been crowned The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year for 2021.
In what was an outstanding year for sport, but particularly for Irish sportswomen, Blackmore recorded several historic firsts over a three-week period.
In April, she steered home 11-1 chance Minella Times to win the world’s most famous steeplechase, the first woman to do so in the race’s 172-year history.
Due to Covid, there were no spectators present to witness Blackmore’s historic victory but at the time she told a TV audience of millions: “I don’t feel male or female right now. I don’t even feel human.”
Just a few weeks earlier the 32-year-old had become the first female jockey to claim the leading jockey title at Cheltenham as well as the first woman to win the Champion Hurdle, this time on board Honeysuckle, with whom she has established a winning partnership.