Video: Gigs return, farmers protest and Covid indicators improve

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Covid indicators and vaccines

A decision to close the Covid-19 vaccination centre at Limerick Racecourse tomorrow to facilitate a horse racing meeting has caused uproar across the city and county, where a surge of almost 1,000 Covid cases has been identified in the past 14 days.

Meanwhile, a total of 11 Irish hospitals now have zero inpatients positive for Covid-19, according to the head of the health service.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said Friday morning had brought "further good news" as eight adult hospitals and three children's hospitals are now without the disease.

It comes after the number of people with the disease being treated in intensive care dropped to the lowest level recorded this year, with 23 patients as of Thursday evening.

Mr Reid has attributed the fall in ICU numbers to the impact of the ongoing rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines.

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Also on Friday, nursing homes have slammed a “grossly irresponsible” plan to end Covid funding support for the sector.

Live concerts return

Music fans who attended the first large-scale concert in Ireland since the pandemic began have described the experience as “emotional” and “surreal”.

A pilot concert taking place at Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens on Thursday evening welcomed 500 fans to witness performances by James Vincent McMorrow and Sorcha Richardson.

It was the first in a series of pilot live entertainment events, employing staggered arrival and leaving times for fans, who remained in pods of up to four people.

Demand for the gig was huge, and tickets sold out almost instantly.

Farmers protest

Farmers in 30 towns nationwide held a “day of action” on Friday to protest over European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform proposals and what they claim is the detrimental impact of the Government's climate action plan.

The protests were the first large-scale demonstration held by the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

The IFA said the objective of the protest was to emphasise the importance of agriculture in rural towns.

"I know farmers are always grumbling. But I think that if you take farming out of a place like west Cork it is a case of you won’t miss us until we are gone. Farming is huge," said Aine Crowley, who contract rears dairy heifers just outside Bandon in west Cork.

Arlene Foster's last engagement

Today is likely to be Arlene Foster's last official engagement as Northern Ireland's First Minister.

She has spoken of regret at not having had the opportunity to have done more as the North’s leader.

She is due to attend the first full summit of the British Irish Intergovernmental Council in Co Fermanagh, where the ongoing dispute over Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol is expected to top the agenda.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has suggested the European Union is taking an “excessively burdensome” approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements for the North.

Hottest day of year

Sunday could be the hottest day of the year, according to the head of forecasting at Met Éireann Evelyn Cusack.

Temperatures could hit as high as 26 degrees this weekend.

Tomorrow will be cloudy at first with some patchy drizzle, but will dry up in the afternoon with highs of 23 degrees. Sunday will be warm and dry with temperatures hitting 26 degrees in some parts.

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