Video: 'Merriongate' latest, Kinahan associate jailed, housing plan unveiled

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'Merriongate'

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said his "compromised" phone was used to contact other European foreign ministers last year and the incident was investigated by gardaí.

The latest development of the so-called "Merriongate" controversy, involving the appointment of Katherine Zappone as a UN special envoy, saw the Minister send a letter concerning the hack to the Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has rejected suggestions that he or Mr Coveney should resign from Government over the controversy. He apologised for a failure to release texts between him and former minister Ms Zappone in response to initial Freedom of Information (FoI) act requests from journalists.

The texts concerned the Merrion Hotel gathering and Ms Zappone's appointment as a UN special envoy. On Wednesday, Mr Varadkar released a series of texts between him, Ms Zappone and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

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A number of politicians have called on the Taoiseach to take action over the controversy, including Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and former minister for agriculture Barry Cowen.

Kinahan associate jailed

Senior Kinahan cartel member Peter Keating, who pleaded guilty to directing the activities of the crime group in their failed attempt to murder Hutch gang member James 'Mago' Gately, has been jailed for 11 years at the Special Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt on Thursday said that Keating (40) was a "senior" and "trusted" member of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group.

Mr Justice Hunt said that Keating of Rowlagh Green, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, pleaded guilty in July of this year to directing the activities of a criminal organisation between December 7th, 2016 and April 6th, 2017, within and outside the State.

This involved the "ongoing targeting" of Gately in the context of a feud between the Hutch and Kinahan crime groups.

Housing for All plan unveiled

The Government has finally launched its flagship programme to tackle the housing crisis, pledging to end homelessness by 2030.

Housing For All will see €20 billion committed to build 160,000 homes over the next five years in an attempt to solve the crises of affordability and supply.

“Housing is the single most important and urgent social issue facing our country,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said. Launching the plan, he warned: “There is no easy or immediate fix.”

Covid latest

A further 1,751 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Republic. There are 343 patients hospitalised with the disease as of this morning, with 59 in intensive care.

As the further reopening of the country approaches, trade unions have criticised the return of 100 per cent capacity on public transport, warning that there cannot be a return to a “sardine-like crush of passengers”.

A Dublin TD has meanwhile said he is “grateful” to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 after falling “quite ill” with the disease.

Fatal shooting

A man in his 50s, arrested on Tuesday for possession of a handgun, is now formally detained in connection with a fatal shooting which occurred on August 26th.

The updated offences for which the man is being detained relate to the fatal shooting of Conor O'Brien last week.

The 19-year-old was discovered with a fatal gunshot wound outside a house in Enfield, Co Meath on Friday morning.

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