Video: Minister's texts, fatal shooting and Housing for All plan

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Minister's texts centre in Zappone controversy

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has rejected suggestions that he or Simon Coveney should resign from Government over the Katherine Zappone controversy.

Mr Varadkar earlier 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.

Minister Coveney is set to face questions about his evidence to an Oireachtas committee after texts revealed “apparent inconsistencies” in his account of the appointment of Ms Zappone.

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.

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Mr Cowen said the Taoiseach had been very decisive “on similar matters in the past” and that when he was sacked from the position of Minister for Agriculture, he had been told that the issue was getting in the way of Government business.

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.

Housing for All

The Government's €4 billion-per-year Housing for All plan, to be unveiled today, will target 300,000 new homes by the end of 2030.

The plan aims to address the housing crisis while it will also include a pledge to end homelessness by the end of the decade. It will be integral to the future of the three Coalition parties.

Cabinet will formally sign off on the plan later today before it is launched by Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

Covid vaccine latest

Women at all stages of pregnancy will be offered an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine following updated advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

The previous public health advice had recommended that pregnant women be offered mRNA Covid-19 vaccination between 14-36 weeks’ gestation.

In a further update in advice made by Niac to chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, a further mRNA vaccine will be offered to immunocompromised children aged 12 years and older, regardless of whether they have received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Taoiseach meanwhile said the Government will not rule out keeping Covid-19 restrictions in some areas with high rates of the virus. Micheál Martin's comments come as 1,789 new cases of the virus were confirmed by the Department of Health on Wednesday.

Electric Picnic cancelled

Electric Picnic organisers have confirmed the festival will not go ahead this year despite the planned easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced on Tuesday.

In a statement posted on Twitter, festival organisers said: “We asked Laois County Council to reverse the decision on EP being cancelled this year. Unfortunately, they have not yet done so and we have now run out of time.”

“Regrettably, we have no other choice but to cancel this year’s edition.”

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