Video: Taoiseach in Ukraine, army on standby at airport, Johnson latest

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Taoiseach begins Ukraine trip

The Taoiseach witnessed the devastation inflicted by invading Russian forces in Ukraine as he visited areas of Kyiv that have borne the brunt of the offensive on the city.

Micheál Martin began a trip to the Ukrainian capital by viewing the conflict-scarred suburbs of Borodyanka, Bucha and Irpin.

The tour included a sombre visit to the site of a mass grave in the grounds of a church in Bucha.

Mr Martin is using the visit to Kyiv to reiterate Irish solidarity with the Ukrainian authorities in the face of the Russian invasion.

His day-long itinerary in the war-torn city began with a trip to Borodyanka – a town on the outskirts of Kyiv that has suffered widespread damage under Russian shelling.

On the 30-minute drive from the railway station, the Taoiseach passed Hostomel airport, where his convoy stopped to observe a demolished bridge.

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The delegation also drove past bombed-out warehouses, shopping centres and petrol stations.

The scale of Ukrainian efforts to defend their capital was evident, with numerous bunkers and fortifications visible on the journey.

In Borodyanka, Mr Martin met the town’s mayor and viewed apartment blocks gutted by fire during the Russian bombardment.

Army on standby at Dublin Airport

Several flights from Dublin Airport were cancelled on Wednesday as the summer of strikes and staff shortages continues to affect Ireland's main international airport.

A total of 14 flights were cancelled to and from the airport – 10 of the flights were operated by Aer Lingus, two by Scandinavian airline SAS and two by KML.

The destinations included returns to Heathrow, Munich, Oslo and Amsterdam.

Aer Lingus previously blamed its cancellations on a rise in Covid infection levels among staff.

The latest wave of cancellations came as the Irish Army was put on standby from Wednesday to help in the event of staff shortages.

Last week, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan got clearance from Cabinet for Defence Forces personnel to be on standby to help staff the airport in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak. This measure is to be stood down in August when the busy holiday period has passed.

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The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) issued an update on Monday to say that its plan for the summer surge has been effective, but that the Defence Forces remain on standby to help.

“The contingency plan now in place to train and have Defence Forces personnel on standby if we experience significant COVID-19-related absences in Security Operations remains prudent,” it said.

Back-to-school allowance

The Minister for Education has suggested that the eligibility criteria for the back-to-school allowance could be widened to allow more cash-strapped families to receive the payment.

Norma Foley said she accepts many struggling families will not qualify for the means-tested Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance.

The Government announced that the back-to-school allowance is to increase by €100 per child, as part of a €67 million package announced to help with the cost-of-living crisis.

The allowance of €160 is currently available to children who are aged between four and 11 on September 30th.

Boris Johnson under pressure following resignations

Boris Johnson has insisted he will not leave No 10 despite a mounting revolt against his leadership.

Ministers and aides have continued to submit their resignations, while support is ebbing away from the UK prime minister among previously-loyal MPs.

But Mr Johnson is understood to have told allies that he is “not going anywhere” and his critics should “calm down”.

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On Wednesday morning, Robin Walker resigned as schools standards minister, telling the prime minister the “great achievements” of the government have become “overshadowed by mistakes and questions about integrity”.

Will Quince quit as children and families minister, saying he could not accept being sent out to defend the UK prime minister on television with inaccurate information over the Chris Pincher row.

Laura Trott resigned as a ministerial aide, saying “trust in politics is – and must always be – of the utmost importance, but sadly in recent months this has been lost”.

Their resignations followed a string of departures from the UK government on Tuesday evening, led by Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid, who delivered broadsides at Mr Johnson as they quit their Cabinet posts.

Former health secretary Mr Javid is expected to add to Mr Johnson’s problems with a personal statement in the Commons on Wednesday.

This will come after the Conservative leader faces a potentially difficult session of Prime Minister’s Questions, while he will also have to endure a grilling by the Liaison Committee of select committee chairmen and women – including some senior Tory critics.

Man (70s) dies after three-car collision in Co Donegal

A man has been killed following a car crash in Co Donegal.

The three-car collision happened on the N13 between Newtowncunningham and Manorcunningham at about 11pm on Tuesday.

A man in his early 70s was taken from the scene to Letterkenny Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A man in his 40s was also taken to Letterkenny Hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.

No other injuries have been reported.

A section of the N13 is closed and diversions are in place. Investigators will conduct a technical examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing to any person who may have witnessed the collision to contact them. Anyone with information can contact Letterkenny Garda station at 074 916 7100, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

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