Video: Northern Ireland election aftermath, water pressures, Putin marks Victory Day

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Northern Ireland election aftermath

The Northern Ireland Secretary will meet the leaders of the main parties at Stormont today to press for the return of devolved government.

Fresh Assembly elections returned an historic result at the weekend with Sinn Féin overtaking the DUP to become the first nationalist party to emerge top at Stormont.

This means Sinn Féin Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill is in line to become the first nationalist or republican first minister. However the DUP, as the second largest party, must nominate a deputy first minister to serve alongside her in the joint office.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the DUP is wrong to place conditions on participating in the Assembly and should “take their seats and get on with it.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has meanwhile shot down any claims that the election results have brought a border poll closer, saying convening a Citizens’ Assembly on a border poll is “not even on the radar” of the Government.

Transport fares fall

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A 20 per cent fare reduction for public transport services in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) took effect today and will last until the end of the year.

The change saw fares on all GDA subsidised services including Dublin Bus, Luas, Dart, Go-Ahead Ireland and Irish Rain Commuter services fall by an average of 20 per cent, while the TFI 90-minute fare reduced to €2 for adults and €0.65 for children.

Irish Rail's online fares for all intercity and commuter services across the country also reduced from Monday, while Bus Éireann and Local Link service fares already fell by 20 per cent last month.

The lower fares, introduced as part of the Government's measures to tackle the rising cost of living, apply to cash, online and leap card payments.

National Maternity Hospital

The Government is planning to press ahead with plans to locate the National Maternity Hospital at the St Vincent’s Hospital site in Dublin.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that concerns about the ownership agreement over the new hospital have been “comprehensively addressed”.

He said that in his view, the current hospital is not fit for purpose and plans for the new hospital are a significant advance.

The proposal to co-locate it at St Vincent’s had been agreed by experts 20 years ago and that part of the debate was being lost, he said.

Water supplies under pressure

Over half of Irish households (53 per cent) admit to wasting water, despite 78 per cent believing that conserving water is important.

It comes as Irish Water has warned some supplies are already under considerable strain despite the dry period of the year having only just begun.

In an effort to aid households in reducing their water usage, Irish Water has launched a conservation calculator on its website.

The tool allows households to determine how much water they use per day, while offering tips on how they can reduce their usage.

Putin marks Victory Day

Russian forces have pushed forward in their assault on Ukraine, seeking to capture the crucial southern port city of Mariupol as Moscow celebrates its national Victory Day holiday.

Speaking on Monday at a military parade marking the holiday, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to justify his invasion, by claiming that it was necessary to ward off what he described “an absolutely unacceptable threat just next to our borders”.

He has repeatedly alleged that Ukraine was planning to attack Russia – which Kyiv has flatly denied.

“The danger was rising by day,” he claimed, adding that “Russia has pre-emptively repulsed an aggression”.

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