Video: Macron visit, Irish team in Kabul, Ellen Keane claims gold at Paralympics

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Emmanuel Macron arrives in Ireland

French president Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Ireland for his first official visit.

Mr Macron is undertaking a one-day tour of Dublin, and will meet with President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheál Martin, as well as visiting Trinity College and the Guinness Enterprise Centre.

It fulfils part of an election pledge by Mr Macron to visit all 27 EU member states, with Ireland one of only four countries yet to be crossed off his list.

A trip to the Phoenix Park is first up on his itinerary, with Mr Macron now meeting with President Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin for what is billed as an academic discussion.

Irish team in Kabul in ‘early stages’ of withdrawal

The joint diplomatic and military team coordinating the evacuation of Irish citizens at Kabul airport is in the “early stages” of withdrawing from Afghanistan, sources say.

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The Emergency Consular Assistance Team, consisting of two senior diplomats and a section of the Army Ranger Wing, has been on the ground in the Afghan capital since the early hours of Wednesday.

It is beginning the withdrawal process amid increasing threats to Kabul International Airport from Islamic State terrorists in the country.

It is not yet known how many Irish citizens will be taken from Afghanistan by the team, which is continuing its coordination work while preparing for departure.

Sources told The Irish Times that the withdrawal does not represent any major deviation from the mission plan and that the on-the-ground evacuation effort was only ever intended to last a few days.

Ellen Keane claims gold medal at Paralympics

Ellen Keane has claimed a gold medal for Ireland at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Keane came out on top in the SB8 100 breaststroke final.

A time of 1:19.93 saw Keane win the event with a personal best time, beating the personal best of 1:21.71 that she set in the heat yesterday.

Keane's family watched the race together at home in Clontarf and there were joyous scenes as she claimed the victory.

It's the Dubliner's first Paralympic gold medal.

Parents struggling with back-to-school costs

An anti-poverty charity took almost 300 calls every day last week from parents struggling with back-to-school costs, with calls on the issue up 10 per cent compared to previous years.

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The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) said the level of demand underlines the need for much greater investment in the education system.

The charity said many of the calls received relate to requests for financial help with parental contributions, schoolbooks, digital equipment and help with the cost of school uniforms.

It comes as the latest Irish League of Credit Unions survey on back-to-school costs showed the overall spend on school items is up for both primary and secondary schools.

The cost of sending a child to primary school this year is €1,186, up €63 on last year. Parents of secondary school children can expect to pay an average of €1,491, up from €1,467 last year.

Row over calls for pregnant teachers to be allowed to work from home

The Education Minister has rejected calls from unions to allow unvaccinated pregnant teachers to work from home.

Those in the early stages of pregnancy and certain cohorts with underlying health conditions are not currently eligible for a Covid-19 jab.

Minister Norma Foley has said such staff should still attend classrooms or, alternatively, avail of pregnancy-related leave, saying the stance is based on public health advice to her department.

Ireland’s three leading teachers’ unions issued a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, condemning the Minister and the department for this stance, and calling for staff to be given the option to work from home.

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Responding, Ms Foley said: “We have consulted with the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists, we have consulted with public health, we have consulted with occupational health.

“It is their expert advice that staff who are pregnant, are eligible to return to work and then at 14 weeks they can be vaccinated.”

Electric Picnic should go ahead, says Fine Gael senator

A Fine Gael senator and former Cabinet minister has said Electric Picnic festival should be able to go ahead.

Regina Doherty, a former minister for employment affairs and social protection, said on Thursday: “It should go ahead, because people want to get their lives back.”

Laois County Council said on Wednesday that it cannot revisit or reconsider its decision to refuse a licence for the music festival this year.

Earlier this week, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said he would have no public health concerns if Electric Picnic took place with only vaccinated people in attendance.

Ministers have so far declined to comment on whether or not the music and arts event should go ahead.

Afghan-Irish woman on fleeing Kabul

An Afghan-Irish woman has told of her desperate attempts to get out of Kabul once the Taliban took over.

Sosan Enayatullha was visiting her family for the first time in four years. She has been living in Ireland for 11 years where her two children were born, she told RTÉ radio’s Ryan Tubridy show.

During the trip, which was to attend her brother’s wedding, the Taliban overran the city. At the time she was out shopping and ran for an hour trying to find a place to hide. Her mother eventually came to find her.

“I was so scared, I was hiding behind my mother.”

After two nights she received a call to tell her to go to the airport, all her family accompanied her. At the airport they found “thousands” also waiting to get into the airport.

€500,000 EuroMillions prize unclaimed

The National Lottery has appealed to EuroMillions players in Arklow, Co Wicklow, to urgently check their tickets as a EuroMillions Plus prize of €500,000 from Friday, June 25th remains unclaimed.

Ticketholders have 90 days from the date of the draw to claim their prize. The claim deadline for this prize is close of business on Thursday, September 23rd.

The winning Quick Pick ticket was sold at the Tesco store on the Wexford Road in Arklow, Co Wicklow.

The winning EuroMillions Plus numbers for the draw on Friday 25th June were: 08, 14, 15, 27, 42

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