Video: Omicron-specific vaccine, Garda recruitment drive, courts latest

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Kenneth Fox

Omicron cases

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 now makes up 27 per cent of all new cases, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

As reported in The Irish Times, Mr Donnelly was providing an update on Covid-19 in the Dáil alongside the Minister for Education Norma Foley.

“Last week the Omicron variant made up about 1 per cent of all new cases in Ireland. By the weekend it was up to 5 per cent,” Mr Donnelly said.

According to Micheál Martin, the European Union’s vaccine acquisition team is now co-ordinating with pharmaceutical companies to gain supplies of a potential “Omicron-specific” vaccine.

Garda recruitment drive

The Government and Garda are making a specific appeal to African-Irish people and members of the Traveller community to join the Garda, and the language requirements are being changed to ensure proficiency in Irish is no longer an advantage.

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As the Irish Times reports. Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris formally launched the recruitment campaign for 2022 on Thursday, when 800 sworn Garda members and 400 civilian staff will be hired.

They are making a direct appeal to members of minority communities and urge them to consider a career in policing.

Civil servant salary

Department of Health secretary general Robert Watt has refused to say if he is still waiving an €81,000 salary increase he got when he was appointed to the job.

Mr Watt was asked about the €292,000 salary at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday.

However, he said he was not answering the question as it was not what he was before TDs to discuss, citing rules that limit what committee members can ask.

Questions have been raised before over the processes involved in Mr Watt’s appointment to the job on an interim basis last January pending an open competition for the permanent role.

ATM theft

A Monaghan man has become the second male to admit to his involvement in the thefts of ATMS by a destructive cross-Border gang, after he pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to possessing stolen cash.

Five men have been charged before the non-jury court in relation to an investigation into the theft of an ATM in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, in April 2019 and the attempted theft of an ATM in Virginia, Co Cavan, in August 2019.

On Thursday at the three-judge court, Stephen Duffy (35) of Tullynahinera, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, pleaded guilty to possessing cash at The Yard, Tullypole, Moynalty, Co Meath, on August 20th, 2019.

Sexual abuse report

The HSE has published the executive summary of the Brandon report into incidents of sexual abuse by a resident at an HSE-run disability centre in Co Donegal.

The review examined the serious incidents in which the resident in St Joseph’s hospital in Stranorlar, given the name “Brandon” in the report, carried out sexual abuse against other residents.

The review, carried out by the National Independent Review Panel, found that a “common management strategy” to deal with ‘Brandon’s’ behaviour was to move him around various wards.

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