Ireland may still be able to avoid more severe Covid-19 restrictions, the chief medical officer said, as new measures were introduced on Monday to tackle the now-dominant Omicron variant.
Dr Tony Holohan said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will continue to monitor an expected surge in cases linked to the variant over Christmas, and did not rule out the need for tougher measures to protect the health system.
“We’re not going away for Christmas,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Kevin Lunney trial sentencing
Three men found guilty of the kidnap and assault of businessman Kevin Lunney have been jailed for a combined total of 70 years.
One of the men, referred to as “YZ” who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Alan O’Brien (40) of Shelmalier Road in East Wall in Dublin, was jailed for 25 years at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.
Housing ads condemned
Advertisements offering free or reduced cost rooms in exchange for sex have been uncovered amid the housing crisis in Ireland.
An investigation by the Irish Examiner identified the ads offering properties in return for sexual favours in Limerick and Dublin.
Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has condemned the ads and urged targeted tenants to inform gardaí. He separately told The Irish Times he has sought advice on extending rent pressure zones countrywide amid soaring costs.
Absenteeism in schools
Schools expect “huge absenteeism” rates this week due to fears among parents over the now-dominant Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The Irish Times reports that school principals in some cases are anticipating attendance to be down 25 per cent or more, amid rising case numbers and the approaching Christmas holidays.
Primary and secondary schools are due to close on Wednesday, December 22nd, and reopen on January 6th, after some calls for an early closure were rejected by the Department of Education.
No White Christmas
A wet Christmas is more likely than a white one this year, according to weather forecasters.
Met Éireann expects light rain at times on Christmas Eve, while Christmas Day is forecast to bring a mixture of showers and dry periods.
Temperatures are set to stay between five and nine degrees on December 24th and 25th.
It comes as a status yellow fog warning is in place for Ireland until 11am on Monday, after it came into force in the early hours of the morning.
Former UK cabinet minister David Frost has warned Boris Johnson to think carefully about implementing any further “coercive” Covid restrictions, but insisted the pair were “absolutely aligned” on Brexit.
The Conservative peer, who has led Brexit negotiations with the EU, quit the UK government with immediate effect over the weekend after his initial plan to resign in January – agreed with the British prime minister – became public.
In his resignation letter, the former Brexit minister cited “the current direction of travel” of the British government, as well as fears over “coercive” Covid measures and the wish for the UK to become a “lightly regulated, low-tax” economy.