Video: Limerick raids, record CAO points and Coveney's texts

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Limerick raids

Gardaí have arrested 12 people and seized cash, drugs, jewellery and horses following a series of searches targeting organised criminality in Limerick city and the surrounding area.

Members of the Defence Forces assisted An Garda Síochána in 65 searches that took place at dwellings, businesses and on land near the outskirts of the city. More than 300 people took part in the raids.

During the operation, gardaí seized six financial accounts, which have been frozen with a total value in excess of €295,000, and cash valued at €62,500.

They also seized five designer watches, three vehicles, eight horses and a horse box.

Record CAO points

A record number of courses saw their points soar upwards of 600 this year. According to data published by the Central Applications Office (CAO), 22 courses this year had first-round cut-off points exceeding 600 points.

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One in two applicants (50 per cent) have missed out on their first preference for a Level 8 college course, data from the CAO shows.

A number of courses in medicine and business have risen to over 600 points, due to grade inflation and a high number of CAO applicants.

For Level 7/6 offers, close to 90 per cent of the offers issued today are for the applicant’s first preference course.

Union of Students in Ireland (USI) president Clare Austick has urged students to take time to consider their options.

Covid latest

Irish hospitals are experiencing the worst overcrowding since the Covid-19 pandemic began, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Meanwhile, cuts to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) begin today, with recipients to receive €50 less.

Separately, up to 12,000 children are out of school due to being close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that 90 per cent of adults aged 18 and over will be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in the coming days.

Eleven cases of the two newest Covid-19 variants of interest, the Mu and Lambda variants, have been identified on the island of Ireland.

It comes as a €4 million “state of the art” laboratory at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) will be one of the nation’s key weapons in the fight against Covid-19 due its ability to detect variants of concern and track outbreaks faster and more accurately.

Coveney's texts

Simon Coveney said he had deleted text messages he exchanged with the Tánaiste from his phone before Freedom of Information requests were submitted by journalists.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs denied that he offered Katherine Zappone the job of special envoy in a conversation with her months before the Government approved the appointment.

Facing questions from the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr Coveney said he had “raised the possibility” with Ms Zappone that she might fill the role but did not offer her the job.

He apologised for the “sloppiness” of his answers in relation to the controversy, admitting that it has caused a “political embarrassment” for the Government.

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