Video: Mission to evacuate Irish from Kabul, end to Covid curbs, and retail rent arrears

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Afghanistan evacuation

A joint diplomatic and military team has departed for Kabul in a bid to evacuate as many Irish citizens as possible before the final US withdrawal from Afghanistan on Saturday.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that having a team on the ground will maximise the opportunities to get Irish citizens out.

However, he said he did not want “to raise expectations unrealistically” as not all citizens may be evacuated from the country by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Independent TD Dr Cathal Berry, who is also a former second-in-command of the Irish Army’s Ranger wing, has called for funding for autonomous aircraft for the Defence Forces.

It reflected badly that Ireland had to “hitchhike” around the world, he told RTÉ radio. It appeared as if Ireland was a “freeloader”, he added.

No Covid curbs by Christmas

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Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said he expects the remaining Covid-19 restrictions to be lifted before Christmas.

He said the Government would like to lift “all restrictions as quickly as possible” but that public health advice may mean some restrictions will have to be kept “for some time”.

Mr Donnelly said these rules could include mask wearing in higher-risk environments.

Events restrictions

Attempts by Minister for Arts Catherine Martin to ease restrictions for live entertainment will be met by stiff opposition by public health officials, and within Government, this week.

Ms Martin is looking for Cabinet backing for the go-ahead for indoor events for vaccinated people and the reopening of indoor arts, drama and dance classes in September.

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However, according to The Irish Times, there is still “great reluctance” in Government to reopen live entertainment as Covid numbers rise.

Retail rent arrears

A significant majority of retailers are in rent arrears with at least one landlord, according to a new survey.

In approximately 20 per cent of cases landlords will not engage and are demanding full payment of rent due, including for the nine months that stores were closed in Ireland due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey, carried out by representative body Retail Excellence, also found that two-thirds of the rent arrears cases “without an appropriate resolution” involved institutional landlords and shopping centres.

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