Video: Pension age plans, Holohan gives Covid update and body identified

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Pension age plans

Government plans to raise the State Pension age have been dealt a blow, after an Oireachtas committee recommended keeping it at 66.

The Pensions Commission has recommended controversial plans to extend the retirement age incrementally to 68, but an influential Oireachtas committee has opposed it.

The Committee on Social Protection said it is not "reasonable" for people over the age of 66 to continue working because of the physical and mental stress it may cause over a period of years.

It is also recommending "flexibility" to allow people with 40 years of contributions to receive the state pension at the age of 65.

Holohan gives Covid update

Ireland may enter a “less frequent vaccination situation” in the future amid the spread of Covid-19, Dr Tony Holohan has told an Oireachtas Committee.

The country’s chief medical officer suggested annual booster vaccines may be offered to vulnerable members of society only.

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Dr Holohan on Wednesday morning delivered a positive outlook on the Covid-19 situation in Ireland around 10 days after almost all restrictions were lifted.

However, he warned that the Omicron variant is “very unlikely” to be the last variant of concern globally and “the global public health risk remains very high”.

Body found on island identified

The body found on the shore of Lambay Island off the north Dublin coast last week has been identified as missing woman Elizabeth Redmond.

DNA analysis has confirmed the remains are that of 52-year-old Elizabeth Redmond, who went missing from her home in Artane late last year.

An appeal for information on her disappearance has now been stood down.

Russia relations

Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuri Filatov is to speak before the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee tonight.

Prior to that, the Committee on Transport will discuss the impact of the Russian drills on aviation.

It comes after Russia relocated planned military exercises away from the Irish coast after both the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs stated they were "not welcome," while fishermen also raised concerns.

The exercises, involving the launching of rockets, were due to take place from February 3rd within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), an area of sea where the country has special rights regarding exploration and the use of marine resources.

Leaving Cert plans

The Minister for Education Norma Foley has defended Leaving Cert plans following criticism from students.

The Cabinet signed off on plans for written exams on Tuesday, with Ministers ruling out a hybrid approach and describing the traditional exam-only format as the “fairest” option.

Minister Foley said the exams will be “tailor-made” in recognition of the challenges students have faced in recent years. Junior Cert exams will also return this year for the first time since 2019, she confirmed.

The Children's Ombudsman, student groups and Opposition parties have all criticised the planned return to more traditional exams, calling for a hybrid model similar to that used over the past two years amid the pandemic.

Camhs scandal supports

The Government did not oppose a Sinn Féin motion over the Kerry mental health scandal last night, which called for supports for the 46 children who were 'significantly harmed' by the failings of a junior doctor in South Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs).

The party also demanded more investment in children's mental health care, with extra recruitment to tackle long waiting lists.

Audits of Camhs teams are expected to be completed by the middle of the year.

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