Video: TDs argue over indoor dining proposals, almost 800 new Covid cases confirmed

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Arguments over indoor dining

Opposition parties have criticised the Government's plans for the further reopening of the hospitality sector ahead of a vote on new legislation to allow vaccinated/recovered people to dine indoors.

Some TDs have described the proposals as "discriminatory", while GPs have argued against plans for them to be tasked with supplying 'recovery certs' as proof that people have recovered from the virus.

Despite the criticisms, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the country could not wait for herd immunity to be achieved in order for indoor dining to be reopened.

A vote is due to be held in the Dáil this evening, after which the Bill will be brought to the Seanad on Friday. The Government is hoping the changes will be signed into law next week, but have given July 26th as the latest date.

National Maternity Hospital

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Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said purchasing the proposed site of the new National Maternity Hospital would add years to the project.

Speaking to the Oireachtas health committee today, Mr Donnelly said the ownership of the land where the hospital is due to be relocated to is "mainly symbolic" after concerns were raised regarding its governance if the State did not have full ownership.

The Government has repeatedly insisted that a full range of services, including terminations, sterilisations and gender reassignment surgeries would be available at the facility.

Covid update

The largest increase in daily Covid-19 case numbers in almost five months has been recorded by the Department of Health today.

In a press briefing this afternoon, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) confirmed 783 new cases of the virus, while the number of people in hospital with the virus has increased to 73, 20 of whom are in intensive care.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the situation was deteriorating across Europe as the Delta variant takes hold, with an overall 20 per cent increase week-on-week in cases.

Dr Glynn also highlighted the impact of travel on case numbers in the Republic over the past fortnight, with 626 travel-related infections identified.

Troubles 'amnesty'

The British government has been heavily criticised for plans to introduce a statute of limitations for offences relating to the Troubles in the North.

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The UK's Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said he plans to bring the legislation to the UK parliament in the autumn, a move which Taoiseach Micheál Martin said was “wrong for many, many reasons”, calling on the British government to honour the Stormont House Agreement.

Parties in the North, victim groups and the families of those who were killed during the Troubles have also slammed the plans, with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson saying the proposals would be “rejected by everyone in Northern Ireland who stands for justice and the rule of law”.

Drug investigation

Gardaí have intercepted two shipping containers which may have been used in an attempt to transport up to half of a tonne of cocaine into Ireland, with a street value of €35 million.

The two containers were found to contain up to 2,000 bags of charcoal, however, anomalies were discovered in respect of a number of bags.

Initial examinations undertaken by Forensic Science Ireland were said to “tend to confirm the suspicion held by the Garda Síochána that the two shipping containers may have been used in an attempt to transport up to half of a tonne of cocaine into Ireland”.

It is anticipated a number of suspects will be arrested in the near future.

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