Video: President faces backlash, two charged with McKee murder, Culture Night returns

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Kenneth Fox

Managed motorway

The M50 is to become Ireland’s first “managed motorway” under major changes set to be announced on Friday.

Controllers based in Dublin’s docklands will be able to set variable speed limits, close lanes, divert traffic off the motorway and clear lanes for emergency vehicles.

The changes come under a €50 million plan to tackle increasing traffic volumes, according to The Irish Times.

Ed Sheeran gigs

Ed Sheeran has announced three Irish dates on a major stadium tour set for next year.

The singer will play in Cork, Limerick and Belfast on his 2022 ‘+ - = ÷ x’ tour, pronounced the Mathematics tour.

He will play at Pairc Ui Caoimh in Cork on Thursday April 28th, followed by a performance at Limerick's Thomond Park on May 5th.

President Higgins backlash

President Michael D Higgins is facing further backlash over his decision not to attend a religious service to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary from former taoiseach John Bruton.

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Mr Bruton said the President should attend the event next month and claimed he appeared to have not sought the advice of the Government as “he is obliged to do under the Constitution”, The Irish Times reports.

Last night, President Higgins broke his silence on the controversy, reiterating he would not attend on the grounds the event is political in nature and commemorates the “centenary of the partition of Ireland”. He also denied snubbing Britain’s queen.

On Friday morning, Mr Bruton told BBC Radio Ulster: “If he had fulfilled his obligation under the Constitution, which is to take the advice of the Irish Government on this matter, they would have advised him that he ought to go.

Lyra McKee murder

Two men have been charged with the murder of Belfast journalist Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old was shot dead by dissident republicans in Derry in April 2019 as she observed rioting in the Creggan area of the city.

The extremist group that styles itself the New IRA was responsible for the killing.

The two men who have been charged with her murder are aged 21 and 33 years old.

Close contacts

Isolation requirements for schoolchildren who are close contacts of a confirmed case of Covid-19 are set to ease, under plans discussed on Thursday by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

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Unvaccinated children who are close contacts will not have to stay out of school from the end of September, The Irish Times reports.

The requirement for unvaccinated children to stay off school is likely to be eased from the week beginning September 27th, but it depends on data on transmission in schools not showing a sudden or unexpected surge.

Vaccinated children currently do not have to restrict their movements if they are close contacts.

Culture Night kicks off

Culture Night 2021 will take place across the country this evening with a host of events on city streets, in workshops, galleries, theatres, parks, museums and libraries.

The sixteenth edition of the Arts Council event takes place this Friday, September 17th in a night celebrating culture, creativity and the arts with special events nationwide.

With the theme ‘Come Together Again’, around 80 per cent of the 1,200 free events on offer will take place in-person this year.

Return to the workplace

The phased return of workers to the workplace from Monday has been given the green light by public health officials.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said the further easing of restrictions on September 20th can go ahead, which will also bring changes for both indoor and outdoor group activities including sport and dance classes, according to the Irish Examiner.

Indoor group activities will be able to take place with up to 100 people if all attendees have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, otherwise only pods of up to six people will be permitted. The number of pods allowed will be based on the size of the venue.

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