Video: Russian ambassador will not be expelled, mask-wearing rules end

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Russian ambassador to Ireland will not be expelled

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that the Russian ambassador to Ireland either did not know what was going to happen in Ukraine, or he deliberately misled the Irish public, an Oireachtas Committee and the Minister as well.

It had become clear in recent days that the Russians had been planning the attack on Ukraine for many months, Mr Coveney told Newstalk Breakfast. The ambassador was “part of that system” and people could make their own judgement.

In the meantime the advice to the estimated 70 to 90 Irish citizens still in Ukraine was to get out if it was safe and to do so through a neighbouring country, if it was not safe to move then they should stay “in situ”.

The Irish Government had a responsibility also to the babies born to Irish parents through surrogacy, he added. That was why lines of communication with Moscow must remain open, he explained.

‘Milestone’ day for the country as rules on mask-wearing end

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The vast majority of Covid-19 restrictions will lift on Monday in Ireland, a move hailed as a “milestone” for the country.

The Government decided last week, following advice from health officials, that from February 28th there will be no legal requirement to wear a mask in any setting.

However, people will still be advised to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare settings.

The requirement for pods, staggered breaks, masks and physical distancing in schools will also end on February 28th.

Some employers will continue to require their staff to wear a mask and are within their rights to do so, according to an employment law solicitor.

Employment law solicitor Richard Grogan told BreakingNews.ie that employers who choose to continue with a mask-wearing requirement in the workplace are within their legal rights to do so.

Bank of Ireland posts highest profit in more than a decade

Bank of Ireland posted its biggest annual profit since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago and said it plans to return of €104 million euros to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

Ireland's largest lender by assets swung to an underlying full-year pretax profit of €1.37 billion from a €374 million loss in 2020 when it set aside €1.1 billion to cover possible loan defaults owing to Covid-19 disruption.

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It wrote back €194 million of those provisions, helping to almost double profits from the pre-pandemic €758 million in 2019. The bank's previous highest profit since the Irish banking crisis was €1.2 billion in 2015.

Finance chief Myles O'Grady told Reuters a 12 per cent rise in income year-on-year and a 4 per cent drop in costs was a strong endorsement of its strategy to cut costs to €1.5 billion by the end of next year and deliver a sustainable return on tangible equity (ROTE) above 10 per cent.

Garda hospitalised after being 'saturated with an accelerant' in Cavan

Gardaí are investigating after an unarmed uniform garda was hospitalised following an alleged assaulted in the early hours of Monday in Co Cavan.

At around 2am, the garda, who had been on patrol in the Loughan, Blacklion, contacted colleagues seeking assistance.

The garda was disorientated and unable to explain the exact circumstances of the incident, a statement from Gardaí said.

The garda's location was identified through the Garda AVPLS system, with uniform officers attending the scene along with members of the Armed Support Unit.

The garda was found in a disorientated state, with his patrol vehicle also present at the scene. Gardaí said there was a "strong smell of an accelerant in the air", adding the Garda's uniform was "saturated with an accelerant" and he had signs of physical injuries.

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