Video: Restrictions ease, protests at Tánaiste's home condemned, Zappone declines Oireachtas invite

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Video: Restrictions Ease, Protests At Tánaiste's Home Condemned, Zappone Declines Oireachtas Invite Video: Restrictions Ease, Protests At Tánaiste's Home Condemned, Zappone Declines Oireachtas Invite
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Restrictions

Thousands of workers around the country have returned to the office today for the first time since the pandemic began.

As part of the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions, workers are being welcomed back on a phased basis, while indoor and outdoor activities, including dance and exercise classes, will be permitted to resume.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the easing was evidence of the success of the public health strategy, hailing the “exceptional progress” of the vaccine roll-out.

Funeral

The funeral of Eileen O’Sullivan (56) and her son Jamie (24) has taken place in Co Kerry.

Their bodies were found at their home in Kilfeighney, near Lixnaw, two weeks ago, while the body of husband and father, Mossie O’Sullivan (63), was found close to the house. A legally held firearm was found at his side.

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At the funeral service at St Michael’s Church in Lixnaw, parish priest Fr Anthony O’Sullivan described the deaths of the three as tragic.

Varadkar protest

Politicians have condemned a “homophobic” protest that took place at the home of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar at the weekend.

Gardaí were alerted and attended the demonstration which took place at around lunchtime on Sunday at the home Mr Varadkar shares with his partner, Dr Matt Barrett.

Videos posted to social media show around 25 protesters gathered, some with placards bearing anti-vaccine messages, and another in which homophobic insults can be heard.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald condemned the incident as “outrageous and shameful”.

Hiqa report

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has recommended against the use of antigen testing for asymptomatic people.

The authority's latest report looked at the use of antigen tests for the screening or surveillance of asymptomatic people to limit transmission of Covid but found uncertainty regarding the tests' effectiveness.

Hiqa also said current rules regarding the wearing of face masks should remain in place and the minimum age for those required to wear face coverings should stay at 12-years-old.

Zappone controversy

Former minister Katherine Zappone has declined an invitation to appear before the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee to answer questions on her appointment to a UN special envoy role.

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The committee's chair, Charlie Flanagan confirmed on Monday that Ms Zappone decided not to take up their invitation.

It was hoped Ms Zappone could offer her timeline and version of events after contrasting explanations of the matter have been offered by members of the Government.

US travel

Fully vaccinated Irish travellers will be able to visit the US from November.

The White House will lift the 18-month blanket ban on foreign travellers from entering the country, which was introduced by former president Donald Trump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

This will be a major boost for airlines, including Aer Lingus who operate regular US flights.

Airlines have repeatedly blamed the travel ban for limiting the recovery of passenger numbers during the virus crisis.

Covid cases

The Department of Health has confirmed 1,154 new cases of Covid-19 as of midnight on Sunday.

The number of people with the virus in hospital is now 297, of which 63 are being treated in ICU.

The latest figures, showing the State's five-day moving average to be 1,327, come as restrictions surrounding office working and group activities have eased.

Senator says Irish Water ignored complaints

Wexford Senator Malcolm Byrne has said that reports of people becoming ill from drinking water in Gorey were ignored by Irish Water and Wexford County Council.

Problems at treatment plants in Wexford and Dublin led to contaminated water posing a risk to the public recently, with parts of Gorey town badly affected.

Contaminated water from the Creagh treatment plant led to a number of people being hospitalised.

Irish Water and Wexford County Council have since apologised for the issues, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described as “abject failures”.

Senator Byrne told BreakingNews.ie: “From late August on, I and local councillors started to become aware of people asking was the water off, complaining of not feeling so well.

“We contacted Irish Water and Wexford County Council, it's fair to say that their initial approach was that they weren't acknowledging there was a problem.

“There was evidence mounting that there was a problem, we were getting reports of people going into hospital, not feeling well. A lot of it was coming from the western side of town which is serviced by the Creagh treatment plan, people on the eastern side town weren't impacted, so the evidence was mounting that there was a problem.”

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