Video: Boosters for children, former soldier jailed and Irish babies in Ukraine

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Boosters for children

A Covid-19 vaccine booster dose is to be offered to children aged 12-15 in Ireland, the Minister for Health has confirmed, on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

The arrival of a new sub-variant of the original Omicron variant makes a case for giving children booster doses, immunology expert Professor Kingston Mills said earlier this morning.

The sub-variant, understood to be up to 50 per cent more contagious than its predecessor, is likely to become the dominant variant in Ireland in the coming days.

Meanwhile, another 3,473 positive cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by PCR testing on Monday, with a further 2,865 people registering a positive antigen test through the HSE portal, as leaders meet to discuss proposals to end mandatory mask-wearing.

Irish babies in Ukraine

A number of Irish parents are still travelling to Ukraine to collect babies born through surrogacy, as the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed five Irish babies have been born there in the last week.

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It comes as Russian president Vladimir Putin has convened senior officials to consider recognising the independence of Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

The meeting of the presidential security council will likely increase Western fears that Russia could invade Ukraine any moment, using skirmishes in eastern areas of the country as a pretext for an attack.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is in Brussels today to discuss ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, with foreign ministers assessing how best to coordinate the EU response to the situation.

Former soldier jailed for rape

A former soldier who was convicted of “a cynical and cold campaign of rape” against a woman has been jailed for 10 years and ordered not to contact the woman again.

Elsewhere in the courts on Monday, a 76-year-old Scout leader who was found guilty of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old boy on a weekend away in the 1980s was jailed for a year.

In the High Court, Alan Harte launched a challenge aimed at setting aside both the conviction and the 30-year prison sentence he received from the Special Criminal Court for his role in the kidnap and attack on businessman Kevin Lunney.

Separately, an Independent councillor convicted of assaulting his brother and nephew following a dispute over the inheritance of a family farm has avoided a custodial sentence.

Storm Franklin

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Thousands remain without power today after Storm Franklin swept over Ireland, bringing high winds again in the wake of Storm Dudley and Eunice last week.

Stormy conditions continued overnight as another series of weather warnings remained in place for the entire country, with motorists asked to be cautious of fallen trees.

ESB Networks earlier apologised to customers who are without power, confirming approximately 29,100 homes and businesses were impacted on Monday morning.

The effects of the storm were felt across the country, with a Cork church closed after a 15-foot-high cross on its top sustained structural damage and footage in Mayo showing the force of winds blowing a small waterfall skywards on Sunday.

Road safety warning

Two women, both aged in their 20s, are in hospital in critical condition following a road traffic collision in Co Louth that saw a vehicle hit a tree.

It follows a number of crashes over the weekend, including a five-car collision in Mayo, a collision in Cork that claimed the life of a 19-year-old man, and a crash in Clare that killed a woman in her 30s.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) this morning called for drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt on every journey, with new data showing that over a quarter of those killed on Irish roads last year were not wearing one.

Sam Waide, chief executive of the RSA, said not wearing a seat belt is "a potential killer behaviour".

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