Travel agents warn list ‘could invalidate insurance’ for flights previously booked to green locations

July 23rd, 2020

THE IRISH TRAVEL Agents Association has claimed that the government’s new travel list could invalidate flight insurance for those who previously booked holidays to ‘green’ locations.

The government published the much-anticipated ‘green list’ of fifteen countries and territories last night.

However, while the publication was also accompanied with a message that the “safest thing to do is not to travel”, the Department of Foreign Affairs says anyone who travels to these locations should take “normal precautions”.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITTA) hit out at the government’s messaging, saying that a decision should be made to either cancel all flights refund customers, or stop requesting people to avoid non-essential travel.

The group has suggested that those who booked holidays to countries like Italy and Greece before March, and have not changed their plans yet, could have their insurance invalidated because they are now deemed safe to fly to.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, the group’s CEO Pat Dawson said things were no clearer than they were before the list was published. 

“We’ve said it for weeks now when, when their bridges were spoken about when ‘green’ countries were spoken about, [the government] must remove non-essential travel, or it’s useless,” he said.

Dawson also suggested the list made no difference to consumers, claiming that those who cancel flights to ‘green’ locations will now receive no refund for doing so, as the non-essential travel ban is not covered by insurance.

The Association believes that if the Department of Foreign Affairs issues an advisory not to travel to locations on the list for non-essential reasons, consumers will be able to get their money back.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney rejected the claim that nothing had changed for consumers, saying that the government’s advice was still to avoid non-essential travel.

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The minister also urged insurance companies to act based on the government’s travel advice.

“I would expect that they would respond to the official travel advice on the Department of Foreign Affairs website,” he told Morning Ireland.

“The safest thing for everyone to do is not to take their holidays abroad.”

At the weekend, Insurance Ireland reminded consumers who planned to book a holiday to confirm whether they are covered before doing so.

In a statement, the group said that the ‘green list’ did not equate to a relaxation of the non-essential travel policy.


Poll: Do you think the publication of the travel ‘green list’ is a good idea?

July 23rd, 2020

LAST NIGHT, THE government agreed a ‘green list’ of countries from which people can travel without having to restrict their movements upon arriving in Ireland.

The list was expected to include a small number of countries with low levels of Covid-19, which Irish people could travel to without having to restrict their movements for 14 days upon returning to the country.

However, while people will not have to restrict their movements upon return from these countries, the government said yesterday evening that the “safest thing to do is not to travel”.

A list of the green-listed countries can be read here

So, today we want to know: Do you think the publication of the travel ‘green list’ is a good idea?

Poll Results:

No (6793)

Yes (2847)

I'm not sure / no opinion (734)

  • Yes
  • No
  • I’m not sure / no opinion


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Man charged with attempted knifepoint car hijacking in Cork city

July 23rd, 2020

A MAN IN his late teens who was arrested over an attempted hijacking incident in Cork city has been charged.

The incident happened at 7pm on Monday, when a man approached a car that was parked on Grand Parade in the city and threatened the two occupants.

He demanded that they drive him to a destination and jumped into the back seat of the car, where he produced what is believed to be a knife.

The car remained stationary and the man ran from the scene in the direction of Bishop Lucey Park. No one was injured during the incident.

A garda spokesman said that a suspect who was arrested in relation to the incident has been charged, and will appear before Cork City District Court at 10.30am today.

Comments have been closed as the case is set to be heard in court.

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Gardaí issue warning after recent spate of caravan and campervan thefts

July 23rd, 2020

GARDAÍ ARE WARNING caravan and campervan owners to be vigilant following a recent spate of thefts.

A total of 43 caravans and campervans were stolen between 1 January 2019 and 10 July 2020, with 13 caravans being stolen since March of this year. 

The most recent incident occurred this month where a caravan worth around €4,000 was stolen from a yard. The owner had no record of any serial number, chassis number or image of the caravan, which gardaí said can make it very hard for them to recover. 

However, in this instance, gardaí managed to recover the caravan which has since been returned to the owner. 

The value of some caravans and campervans that have been stolen ranges in value from €1,000 to €30,000. 

“With staycations expected to rise this year, and more people using caravans and campervans, there is a need to be extra vigilant with their security,” Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Ber Leetch said. 

“As a campervan owner myself, I always make sure we have the hitch lock on when we are parked up for the evening or when it’s not in use. We have also invested in a tracking device. They can be purchase for around €150, so if our campervan was ever stolen there is a better chance of getting it back,” Leetch said. 

He added that the items inside caravans and campervans could be “irreplaceable if they hold a sentimental value”.

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“I would recommend that you keep valuables out of sight and make sure everything is locked when you go out,” Leetch said. 

Criminals are opportunistic, so whilst you may think that its fine whilst you pop out for a half an hour, you never know. Don’t give them the opportunity by not securing it. 

“Please make sure you park smart and lock up your caravan or campervan no matter where you are. If something is stolen from you, no matter what it is, call gardaí immediately.”

Gardaí have issued the following advice to caravan and campervan owners: 

  • Ensure a good quality hitch lock and wheel clamps are in place and that the caravan is locked to a secure point
  • Get an alarm fitted if one is not already in place
  • Keep valuables out of sight and remove when not in use
  • Ensure windows and doors are locked
  • Park in a well-lit area. Keep a light on if leaving unattended overnight
  • Use a cover when not in use. This may deter thieves as pulling off a cover can be noisy and add to the time taken to steal the caravan
  • Keep good records of all serial numbers, unique markings, image of the caravan/campervan etc. Keep documents secure
  • Consider voluntarily registering your caravan with the Central Registration and Identification Scheme


China says US has ordered it to close consulate, condemning ‘outrageous move’

July 23rd, 2020

CHINA SAYS THE US has ordered it to close its Houston consulate by Friday in what it called a provocation that violates international law.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the US had abruptly demanded the previous day that the consulate cease all operations.

He said Beijing strongly condemned “such an outrageous and unjustified move that will sabotage China-US relations”.

There was no immediate confirmation or explanation from the US side.

Media reports in Houston said authorities had responded to reports of a fire at the consulate. Witnesses said people were burning paper in what appeared to be waste bins, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing police.

It came the day after court documents revealed the US had accused hackers working with China of targeting companies developing coronavirus vaccines.

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Cross-department approach could help tackle Ireland’s rate of illiteracy – report

July 23rd, 2020

THE NATIONAL ADULT Literacy Agency (Nala) has published three reports on research of adult literacy, suggestions of how to tackle adult literacy, and arguments on why current policies are inadequate.

According to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills, about 18% of Irish people aged 16 to 65 are at or below level one on the five-level literacy scale.

“This means that 521,550 adults struggle with reading a leaflet, bus timetable or medicine instructions,” the report said.

It also indicates that 25% of Irish adults (754,000 people) scored at or below level one for numeracy, which means they may have difficulty doing basic addition or calculating a bill. Out of 24 countries, Ireland ranks 17th place in literacy and 19th in numeracy.

Source: PIAAC 2012 Survey

As well as that, 55% of the adult population has low digital skills. This means they may struggle with reading text, doing simple maths or searching and understanding information online.

What can be done

The NALA has asked that the nine government departments that concern adult literacy, numeracy and digital skills should develop a “cross-departmental approach”.

NALA said that this would be “very achievable” to implement in Ireland, and cites the Netherlands as a country that has implemented something similar.

“In order for this to be realised, all departments would need to address adult literacy, numeracy and digital skills as a core capability as it relates to building resilience. This marks a slight departure from previous work and national strategies that focus primarily on labour market needs,” a statement said.

Source: Nala

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to develop and implement a new 10-year strategy for adult literacy, numeracy, and digital skills.

The reasons for increasing literacy levels

Literacy is defined as ”listening and speaking, reading, writing, numeracy and using everyday technology to communicate and handle information”.

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Literacy difficulties can affect people’s health and wellbeing, their ability to access work and lifelong learning and to contribute and participate fully in community life.

Poverty and low literacy are “two sides of the same coin”, the report argues, saying they have similar impacts on people: powerlessness; inequality and injustice; feelings of rejection and inadequacy; a sense of hopelessness and failure; and a social stigma.

While 65,000 adults accessed adult literacy services in 2019 (12.5% of those with needs), 456,000 adults are not getting any support.

“If there’s one thing we learnt during the pandemic, it’s that many people struggle with understanding and accessing information,” Dr Inez Bailey, NALA CEO said.

“For those with low literacy or digital skills, it is especially difficult. While some families were able to support their kids learning online, many parents struggled with understanding information from schools.

“Third-level institutions moved quickly to deliver their courses virtually but often those attending adult literacy education classes didn’t have access to technology. Indeed many callers to our helpline simply wanted help using technology to stay in touch with family.”


League of Ireland clubs to share all revenue from FAI’s new streaming service

July 23rd, 2020

LOCKED-OUT LEAGUE of Ireland fans will be able to watch live coverage of more than 55 matches on the FAI’s new streaming service, WATCHLOI, which is launched today.

The service, which is a partnership between the FAI and RTÉ Sport in collaboration with GAAGO, will cost fans €55 for a season pass in Ireland and €69 outside of Ireland.

All production costs will be covered by the FAI, the Association confirmed this morning, and all revenue from the platform will be split between the league’s clubs.

Premier Division action is due to resume on Friday 31 July with the meeting of Derry City and Sligo Rovers at 5.45pm.

Subscribers on the island of Ireland will be able to watch every Premier Division match for the remainder of the season with the exception of games where eir Sport hold live and exclusive rights, while international subscribers will have access to every game.

Most matches will be broadcast using a single camera although some games will have a two-camera setup, with RTÉ providing the commentators for each game.

Fans can also purchase access on a match-by-match basis at a cost of €5 per match.

A number of clubs have already confirmed that their existing season ticket holders will receive a free season pass for the WATCHLOI service.

“We’re absolutely delighted to launch our new streaming service, WATCHLOI,” FAI Commercial & Marketing Director Mark Russell said.

“Working with RTÉ Sport and GAAGO will guarantee that we will have a best-in-class product which SSE Airtricity League supporters will be able to enjoy around the world.

“Especially with Covid-19 restrictions, this is the ideal time to launch this service but with the revenue it will generate for the clubs, this is also a major moment for the league and a fantastic opportunity to promote and enhance the domestic game in Ireland.”

Declan McBennett, Group Head of Sport, RTÉ said: “In these uncertain times, when dedicated fans are unable to attend games in large numbers, we are delighted to bring the games directly to them via WATCHLOI.

“This is a chance for the whole of the Irish footballing family to get behind the SSE Airtricity League and lend their support in every way to the clubs as the heartbeat of the association.”

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HSE CEO apologises to Ruth Morrissey as family say they are ‘truly heartbroken’ at funeral

July 23rd, 2020

Updated 11 hours ago

HSE CEO PAUL Reid said he has written to Paul Morrissey, the husband of Ruth Morrissey, to offer an apology on behalf of the HSE.

Speaking at a press briefing in Dublin this morning, Reid said Ruth was an “incredibly courageous woman“.

The 39-year-old’s death was confirmed by her family on Sunday and her funeral is taking place in Limerick today.

She won a case against the HSE and two laboratories that examined her cervical smear tests. It led to more than 200 women eventually learning that they were affected by incorrect smear test results as part of the CervicalCheck controversy.

The Morrissey family and other women affected by the scandal, such as Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh, have been critical of the fact Ruth had to spend much of the last two years of her life engaging in legal action.

Ruth’s funeral mass is taking place at 11am in Mary Magdalene Church, Monaleen, followed by private cremation.

Speaking at the mass, Ruth’s husband Paul paid tribute to her.

“I always knew Ruth was a strong person, but the resilience and bravery she showed every day, whether having treatment, going through the court case or dealing with the pain, never ceased to amaze me.

“She carried it all with great dignity and she still managed to keep a sense of humour and appreciate the simple and important things in life.

“Libby and I are truly heartbroken, I don’t think we’ll ever recover from losing Ruth,” he said.

Ruth was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014. After recovering initially, her cancer returned in 2018 and became terminal.

The results of an audit from the labs responsible for testing the slides revealed there were a number of incorrect test results, including Morrissey’s tests, and those of more than 221 other women.

The HSE was ordered to award damages to her for not notifying her of the results of audits of her 2009 and 2014 smear tests. Last year, the High Court awarded Morrissey and her husband €2.1 million in damages.

‘A sparklet to her smile’ 

Ruth passed away on Sunday morning at Milford Hospice with her husband Paul by her side, a family statement said.

“Though just 39 years old, Ruth achieved so much in her life and chief among those accomplishments is the love she and Paul shared and the wonderful daughter they brought into this world and raised with love,” the statement said.

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“Ruth had a sparkle to her smile, her wit and her intelligence. That sparkle made her wonderful company and her friendship was a gift she gave generously to anyone who knew her.”

The statement continued: “Despite the magnitude of the harm caused to her by avoidable errors, despite the broken promise of a Taoiseach who said no other woman would have to go to trial, despite using Ruth as a test case through the final years and months of her life, neither the HSE nor the State has ever apologised to her, and now it is too late.”

The 221+ patient advocacy group will form a socially-distanced guard of honour at the funeral “to honour and show our love, appreciation and respect to Ruth and her family”.

In a statement, the group said Ruth “is not just a statistic, she was first and foremost a loving mother, wife, daughter and sister”.

“Ruth never set out to be in the public eye but when the need came, with Paul by her side, she refused to be pushed aside. She fought not only for justice but for the demand to be heard.”

Her death notice states that she was predeceased by her parents Sean and Mary and sister Niamh, and was the “beloved wife of Paul and adored mum of Libby” and is sadly missed by her family and friends.

In compliance with current guidelines, the funeral will be confined to family and close friends only. The mass can be viewed online here.


Last year’s court cases: 75% increase in medical negligence awards, and 30% decrease in asylum cases

July 23rd, 2020

THE COURTS SERVICE annual report was published today, giving an overview of the civil and criminal cases that appeared before the courts last year.

Although there was a slight decrease in personal injuries claims, there was a 75% increase in the value of medical negligence awards.

The court service said that this “almost certainly” reflects the number of major catastrophic injury cases being dealt with: “where provision is made for a lifetime of needed care results in large awards, and where lower returns on investment require greater sums to provide that”.

There were 154 sentences given in rape cases. Of those, 36% (55) were sentences of 5-10 years; and 63% (97) were over ten years. No sentence was under two years was given, and only two (1.3%) were between two and five years.

There was a 30% decrease in new asylum cases lodged (368 down from 530). The High Court increased by 94% the asylum cases it decided or resolved in court. This is almost a reverse of the previous year, where more cases were resolved outside court hearings.

Offences in the district court included 226,000 road traffic offences; 33,000 drugs matters; 3,600 sexual offences; 37,500 larceny/ robbery/ fraud matters; and 46,000 public order/assaults.

Among the notable increases in cases lodged were: a doubling of employment cases (other than dismissal claims), from 113 up from 50; and a 30% increase in interim barring order applications.

The most notable drop in cases lodged, were: a 40% drop in new bankruptcies; and a 28% drop in possession cases initiated, with a 37% drop in possession orders.

154 sentences given in rape cases of which 36% (55) were 5-10 years; 63% (97) were over ten years. No sentence was under two years, and only two (1.3%) were between 2 and five years.

Modernising the courts

This morning I launched the @CourtsServiceIE 2019 Annual Report with Angela Denning, Chief Executive of the Courts Service, Chief Justice Frank Clarke and the other court presidents.

— Helen McEntee TD (@HMcEntee) July 22, 2020

Source: Helen McEntee TD/Twitter

The Chief Justice Mr Justice Frank Clarke has presented the 2019 Annual Report of the Courts Service to the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee at a physically-distanced event in the Four Courts today.

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He said: “The report related to 2019 which, in so many respects, seems now like a different era. The report for 2020 will undoubtedly be very different. But this 2019 report perhaps provides a benchmark of where our courts stood prior to the pandemic striking”.

Welcoming proposed legal changes, the Chief Justice said that some additional legislative measures will help modernise how the the courts service operates – the use of video conferencing and filing electronically among the changes planned.

He mentioned that the Courts Service’s own Modernisation programme and the expected report of the Civil Justice Review Committee, expected in September, “will form important building blocks for the development of a significantly modernised civil courts structure in the coming years”.

Chief Justice Clarke also welcomed the additional funding for the Hammond Lane project – part of the the new family court structure that is proposed.

The report said that there were 445,000 criminal and 233,000 civil matters presented to the courts in 2019.


Taoiseach says it’s ‘impossible’ to enforce mandatory quarantine for people arriving in Ireland

July 23rd, 2020

Updated 8 hours ago

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said it is impossible to enforce mandatory quarantine for people arriving in Ireland, even for those who come from countries that are not on the newly published green list.

The list contains 15 countries and territories people can travel to and return from without having to restrict their movements upon arriving in Ireland.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon Martin said: “In terms of the mandatory quarantine, this has been articulated for quite some time. It is impossible to enforce in the first instance.

Secondly, it is questionable as to whether it works well. In some countries they have brought in mandatory quarantining and it led to a cluster where the actual quarantining was taking place.

“That happened and the advice we have got and discussed with the WHO (World Health Organisation) and others really is that you must be able to contact people very quickly once they come into the country.”

The Taoiseach said if people return from countries that are not on the green list and they do not restrict their movements it could risk schools not being able to reopen in September. 

“Anyone who travels outside of those 15 countries that we have identified should restrict their movements when they return to Ireland without question.

“In our view, we don’t want families going on holidays to those countries in the first place. It is very important they don’t risk the capacity of schools to open or indeed create situations that could lead to the spread of the virus.”

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said today he welcomed the “clarity that now exists”.

Harris said ministers are “not travel agents” and the list should not be taken as a list of holiday destinations.

“The advice is clear – we do not want people in this country to go abroad for holidays. We believe the safest thing you can do is holiday in Ireland. We also believe from an economic point of view the best way we can help our country, the hospitality and others that have been so badly hit by this pandemic is to support them.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the safest thing to do it “not travel abroad”. 

He said he can “accept that there has been confusion” over the matter but that a decision has now been made, adding that government advice is now “simple and clear”. 

“It is important to say that the travel advice has changed in relation to countries that are on this so-called ‘green list’, but the overall message from government is that the safest thing to do is to stay at home. That’s a very clear message,” Coveney said. 

But it is important for people who are travelling, and many people are making the decision to travel, we’d rather they weren’t but they are, about 50,000 people a week. It’s important that those people have clear information in relation to risk levels, that impacts on travel insurance and other decisions that they need to make. 

Speaking further about travel insurance, Coveney said that insurance companies “will make decisions on the basis of the official travel advice”.

He noted that the official travel advice for the 15 countries has now been changed on the Department of Foreign Affairs website to make clear they do not represent a higher risk than Ireland. 

Italy is on the green list and France is not.


Speaking about the inclusion of territories like Gibraltar and Monaco on the green list and the fact that travellers may have to move through ‘red list’ countries to reach them, Coveney said it is not a concern if people are merely transiting through an airport. 

“If you’re transiting through an airport and we’ve checked this with the World Health Organization, our Minister for Health spoke to Mike Ryan, who’s a senior figure in the World Health Organization, and they don’t have a significant concern at all with transit airports,” Coveney said. 

If you’re flying through an airport onto another destination, it’s the destination that you’re heading to or the destination that you originate from that determines whether you are effectively on the so-called green list or not. 

Speaking earlier this month, acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn  said that from a public health point of view, “mandatory quarantine would be a desirable measure”.

Related Read

Government agrees 15 countries for travel 'green list' following late-night Cabinet meeting

This advice has been repeated by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). 

Coveney said that the government has “considered it seriously” but that “we don’t regard it as an approach that makes sense from an Irish perspective”.

The minister said that international travel into Ireland has nonetheless fallen “dramatically” in recent months. 

“One of the things that we will have in place in the next few weeks, is we will have random testing in our airports for people coming from non-green list countries,” Coveney added. 

We will have testing facilities available in airports for people who may have symptoms of Covid-19 coming through the airport and the airport may have concern about that. So, there are things we can do to constantly improve our protocols and management of risk linked to international travel. 

Speaking yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar suggested that the publication of a green list could be interpreted as ‘mixed messaging’ from the government

Asked about these comments by his party leader, Coveney said he accepted “there has been some confusion in the last number of days”.

Appearing on Newstalk Breakfast, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan was also asked about that intervention by the Tánaiste and whether or not the ‘green list’ moniker was appropriate. 

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“If we didn’t apply any assessment of other countries’ risk, and if as is said Covid continues for a longer period of time, then we have a difficult issue. We do have to manage as an island how we connect with the rest of the world,” he said. 

“For those who are traveling to countries with high incidence of Covid, we do have to make sure that those people do restrict their movements when they come back.”

– With reporting from PA and Michelle Hennessy.


Explainer: What does the new ‘green list’ mean for foreign travel?

July 23rd, 2020

Monaco is one of the places on the green list.

Source: Shutterstock

THE MUCH-PROMISED travel ‘green list’ was published by the government late last night

Government advice remains against non-essential travel, but the green list essentially acknowledges that some travel is happening and that some countries are more safe than others to travel from.

So what effect does the list have? 

As it stood yesterday, people arriving into this country from anywhere abroad were required to restrict their movements for 14 days.;

As it now stands, this remains the case for everywhere except the 15 countries and territories on the green list.

The places on the list are: 

  • Cyprus
  • Malta
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Italy
  • Hungary
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Slovakia
  • Greece
  • Gibraltar
  • Greenland
  • Monaco
  • San Marino

So to cut through all of the noise, if you’re arriving into Ireland from these countries you can act as if you were just returning from a staycation in this country. 

What about flying to those countries, will I have to self-isolate if I go there?

You’re probably better off doing some of your own specific research before booking a trip, but many of these countries have rules that are similar to Ireland.

For example, like in Ireland, Cyprus requires people travelling into the country to fill out a form before they land. 

Dubbed the Cyprus Flight Pass, the online form is part of authorities’ efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic while allowing some tourist travel.

The form must be filled out online 24 hours before boarding, irrespective of the departure country.

The country allows passengers into the country based on two lists of countries, Category A and Category B. 

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Passengers from Category B countries need to demonstrate a negative Covid-19 test from the previous 72 hours before entering the country, while Category A countries do not.

Luckily for Irish tourists, the country is part of Category A and people arriving from here just need to fill out the form. 

Much like Ireland’s ‘green list’, Cyprus has said it will be regularly updating the two lists based on epidemiological data.  

What if I want to go to a ‘green list’ country but have to travel through one that’s not on the list?

According to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, this is fine if you’re just transiting through an airport.

Some places on the list do not have direct flights to or from Ireland, but Coveney told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today that returning via a connection hub does not mean you’ve entered a ‘red list’ country. 

“If you’re transiting through an airport and we’ve checked this with the World Health Organization, our Minister for Health spoke to Mike Ryan, who’s a senior figure in the World Health Organization, and they don’t have a significant concern at all with transit airports,” Coveney said. 

If you’re flying through an airport onto another destination, it’s the destination that you’re heading to or the destination that you originate from that determines whether you are effectively on the so-called green list or not. 

So essentially that means if you’re flying from Greenland via Denmark or from Gibraltar via Spain you will still count as having returned from a green list country.

That would, however, appear to rule out flying to a ‘red list’ country and hopping on a train.

A fact Ryanair sarcastically picked up in relation to Monaco, which doesn’t actually have its own airport.

Four simple steps to your #GreenList getaway in Monaco:

1. Fly to France

2. Oh wait, turn around because France isn’t actually on the list

3. Buy a yacht

4. Sail to Monaco from Dublin

— Ryanair (@Ryanair) July 22, 2020

Source: Ryanair/Twitter

Will this change mean anything for travel insurance purposes?

On the face of it it would appear that the green list will make a difference but what exactly it means is already up for debate.

One of the ongoing issues surrounding the pandemic and travel has been the rights of consumers and how they interact with government travel advice. 

Now an important question is whether people will be able to avail of travel insurance if they travel to a green list country. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advice is usually critical in determining if people can have insurance cover while abroad, with people travelling abroad likely left without coverage if they travel against government advice. 

Last night, the official travel advice for the 15 green list countries changed on the DFA’s website, making it clear they do not represent a higher risk than Ireland. 

The new advice changed the status of the countries to ‘normal precautions’ from ‘avoid non-essential travel’. 

Italy is on the green list and France is not.


Despite this however, Insurance Ireland said earlier this week that the green list “does not equate to a relaxation of the non-essential travel policy”. 

This suggested that insurance companies may take the view that, green list or no green list, Irish tourists may not be covered if they travel abroad for non-essential reasons.

Insurance Ireland was correctly pointing to the fact that the overarching government advice was still to avoid non-essential travel. 

In a statement today, Irish travel insurance provider called for greater clarification and labelled the advice for green list countries as ‘very conflicting’. 

Asked about the insurance issue, Coveney said that insurance companies will make decisions on the basis of the official travel advice and that the advice has changed in relation to the 15 countries. 

The best advice, however, is probably to check with your own insurance provider before making any decisions.’s coronavirus newsletter cuts through the misinformation and noise with the clear facts you need to make informed choices. Sign up here:


Police reopen 2004 rape case of Irishwoman after claims of link to Madeleine McCann suspect

July 23rd, 2020

PORTUGUESE POLICE HAVE reopened an unsolved rape case of an Irish woman in 2004, after claims that it may be linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

British media are reporting that Portuguese police have reopened the case of Irish woman Hazel Behan, now aged 37, who was viciously assaulted by a stranger in her apartment 16 years ago.

Hazel Behan was working in Praia da Rocha in the Algarve at the time, a 30-minute drive from where three-year-old Madeleine was abducted from a room in the Praia da Luz resort in May 2007.

Today, Sky News reports that, according to a source: “Detectives are looking again for new evidence and the investigation is reopened.”

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian last month, Hazel Behan explained that when she first read about the new evidence in the McCann case, her “mind was blown”.

In June, German authorities announced they were investigating Christian B, a convicted German child sex offender, as a possible chief suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Christian B is known to have lived on the Algarve coast at the time Madeleine went missing. He is in jail in Germany for drug dealing, and is appealing against a conviction for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old woman, also at Praia da Luz.

The Irishwoman told The Guardian: “My mind was blown when I read how he had attacked a woman in 2005, both the tactics and the methods he used, the tools he had with him, how well he had planned it out.

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“I puked, to be honest with you, as reading about it took me right back to my experience.”

Although German police have said that they are treating Madeleine McCann’s disappearance as a murder investigation, the Met Police maintain their investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, Operation Grange, is a missing-person inquiry, as there is no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”.

In the days after the renewed appeal, Scotland Yard said they received hundreds of tips to their Operation Grange team.

– with reporting from the Press Association


Ireland’s latest Euromillions jackpot winner bought their ticket online, National Lottery confirms

July 23rd, 2020

THE NATIONAL LOTTERY has confirmed that the Irish winner of last night’s Euromillions draw bought their ticket online and is in the Leinster area.

There was a single winning ticket in last night’s draw, with the winner scooping over €49.5 million

The National Lottery says the winning ticket was bought by an online player and that people who bought a ticket online should check their emails or smartphone app to see if they’ve won. 

“What we normally do is get people to check their tickets, what we’re doing this time is getting people to check their emails, because there is a unique and life-changing email in the inbox of that particular winner or winners,” the National Lottery’s Robert Magee told RTÉ’s News at One.

The draw took place in Paris last night and as news filtered through here at about a quarter past eight, word started to come through about the winner. Once all results were confirmed an email would have been sent.

“Can you imagine the feeling this morning, you make your cup of tea, you sit down at your desk, and you’re going through your morning emails and imagine seeing that email to say that you’re almost to the tune of €50 million richer.”

Magee added the advice to any winner would be to “remain calm” and that if they have any questions to contact their claims team.

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Crowds ruled out at Irish Champions Weekend and Listowel

July 23rd, 2020

TWO OF IRELAND’S biggest September fixtures, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend and the Listowel Harvest Festival, will be staged behind closed doors because of continued uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Irish Champions Weekend is scheduled for September 12 and 13, with the first card at Leopardstown featuring the Irish Champion Stakes and the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes.

The second day at the Curragh is highlighted by four further Group Ones races – the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, Moyglare Stud Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes.

It had initially been hoped crowds of up to 5,000 people might be permitted by September – but after the government announced a delay to the next phase of its lockdown-lifting roadmap last week, organisers decided there was little chance spectators could be allowed at the fixture.

Paul Dermody, chief executive of HRI Racecourses, said: “With less than eight weeks to go before Longines Irish Champions Weekend, it was the committee’s view that this was the optimum time to give people certainty.

“It is a great shame that our feature weekend of Flat racing will not be enjoyed by racegoers in person this September, but we will ensure a warm welcome for everybody when they return next year.

“In the meantime, we will be refunding all of those who availed of early-bird and advance ticket offers. We will now focus our attention on providing racing fans with a brilliant at-home experience.”

Harry McCalmont, chairman of the Irish Champions Weekend committee, added: “We had dearly hoped that circumstances would allow us to have racegoers back on the racecourse for Longines Irish Champions Weekend, but that doesn’t look at all likely, so it is best to make a call on it now.

“It is a great pity, but we still have a wonderful weekend of racing to look forward to. The committee would like to take the opportunity to thank the sponsors of all races for their loyalty, and we look forward with interest to see the array of horses that will line up at Leopardstown and the Curragh.”

Listowel’s bumper seven-day meeting, scheduled from September 20-26, will also take place without a crowd – with chairman Pat Healy believing it best to make a timely decision.

He said: “In these unprecedented times, and in line with Government guidelines, the Listowel Race Company has made the extremely difficult decision to race behind closed doors.

“This means the event will not be open to the general public this year.

“The health and safety of everyone is our number one priority – and with crowd restrictions in place, it would be very difficult for us to run the festival, because it attracts significant numbers of visitors to Listowel each year.

“Making the announcement now gives all of our valued patrons notice, with regard to travel plans and accommodation bookings.

“We would also like to acknowledge and thank the residents and business community of Listowel for their contribution to the Festival down through the years and already look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2021.”


A Light That Never Goes Out: Keelin Shanley’s posthumous memoir to be published in October

July 23rd, 2020

A MEMOIR WRITTEN by Keelin Shanley in the final months of the broadcaster’s life will be published this autumn.

Shanley, a former investigative journalist and RTÉ news anchor, died at the age of 51 in February. The book will be titled A Light That Never Goes Out and it is to be published by Gill Books on 2 October.

The book charts Shanley’s career in journalism and details her lengthy battle with cancer, right up to becoming co-anchor of RTÉ’s flagship Six One News programme while undergoing cancer treatment.

In the book’s introduction, Shanley lays out her thoughts as she came to terms with her diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer aged 51.

“I realised that I am still Keelin Shanley: I still am that person, in spite of everything. In spite of the wig, the scarves, the IV lines, the tests, mum, wife, news presenter, daughter, sister, stepdaughter – I am all of those things,” she wrote. 

And that’s why I decided to write this book: to remind me of who I am, and to leave those who love me something to hold on to.

Gill Books Commissioning Editor Deirdre Nolan said Shanley contacted her in December 2019 because she “wanted to leave a record of her life behind”.

The deeply-admired journalist wrote the book with the help of editor Alison Walsh and her husband, Conor Ferguson, penned the final chapter after Keelin passed away.

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“It is so rare to have such an insight into what someone who is facing death is thinking and feeling, and despite the gravity of the situation she was facing, through her writing Keelin has managed to capture the fleeting beauty of life in way that is awe-inspiring and ultimately uplifting,” Nolan said.

The title of the book is a reference to a song by The Smiths, which was one of Shanley’s favourite bands when she first met her husband.

“Keelin lived such an extraordinary life, she has left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten. Keelin wasn’t prone to nostalgia, she was upfront and a ‘doer’ from the very beginning,” Ferguson said.

She always grabbed life by the reins and, as a result, didn’t have many regrets. Though we miss her every day and remember her in every moment, we hope that her remarkable story will inspire people to live life to the full and put the best foot forward, no matter what obstacles life presents.


‘A real cause of concern’: One in four close contacts failing to show up for first Covid-19 test

July 23rd, 2020

HSE CEO PAUL Reid has said he is concerned about the number of close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases who are failing to turn up for a test. 

In May, health officials announced close contacts of anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 would all be offered testing – on day zero and then again seven days later. There has been concern about the level of uptake, particularly in relation to the second follow-up test on day 7. 

Today Reid said the number of close contacts of a confirmed case has increased now to 5.4 for each case. He said up to 25% of close contacts are not showing up for a test on day zero and only half turn up for their test on day seven.

“It’s really important to stress here that a person may identify as a negative test on day zero, but a quite real potential to test positive on the day seven.”

He said the likelihood of testing positive is “much higher” if a person has been in contact with a positive case.

We strongly advise everybody to come forward, it’s really important you play a part for yourself, for your family, for the wider public, for society, and stopping the spread and second surge.

Reid said contact tracing teams now have to spend considerable time trying to convince some close contacts to take up the offer of a test. He said in many cases the person will agree to the test but then will fail to show up for the appointment.

“That’s a real cause of concern for us.”

Reid said: “In some cases people are saying they feel fine, they feel that they don’t have symptoms and don’t have to go. The calls with those people are taking much longer than they did in the past, a call is taking double, sometimes triple the amount of time.”

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He said in some cases people are now back to work and are concerned about the potential impact of testing positive and the requirement to self-isolate.

Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said in this situation people are not the best judges of whether or not they need a test and they should follow the advice of doctors and the contact tracing staff. He pointed out that up to 40% of people may be asymptomatic when they have the disease but this does not mean they cannot pass it on to other people.

“If you are a close contact, you could be positive even if you have no symptoms,” he said.

If you have no symptoms and are positive but don’t get tested, you are at risk of passing that virus on to other people, who are in turn at risk of passing it on if they are asymptotic – and that is called a cluster, which becomes an outbreak which eventually becomes uncontrolled community transmission.

“That is all traced back to individual responsibility and behaviours.”

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Dr Henry said this kind of uncontrolled community transmission would be a barrier to the reopening of schools and the resumption of healthcare services.’s coronavirus newsletter cuts through the misinformation and noise with the clear facts you need to make informed choices. Sign up here:


Extra charge brought against man accused of carrying out attacks on Luke Kelly statues

July 23rd, 2020

AN EXTRA CHARGE has been brought against a 47-year-old man accused of carrying out graffiti attacks on Luke Kelly statues in Dublin.

Michael Dunne, with an address at Sean McDermott Street, Dublin, was arrested on Tuesday by gardaí investigating paint damage to the statue of the singer near St Stephen’s Green.

He appeared at Dublin District Court today charged with criminal damage to the Luke Kelly sculpture on South King Street, Dublin 2, on 23 June last.

Pearse Street station Garda Sean Scully said Dunne made no reply when charged.

He objected to bail citing the seriousness of the case.

He said in recent days gardaí obtained CCTV evidence. There was 19 clips allegedly showing the accused cycling from Sheriff Street on the north-side, crossing the Samuel Beckett Bridge, and heading to South King Street.

It was alleged he “threw a large amount of paint over the statue”. There was video evidence of him returning to his apartment building. He told the court Dunne has already been charged with paint damage to the singer’s statue at Guild Street in the city’s north side earlier this month.

Defence solicitor Jenny McGeever put it to him that her client did not have a bike. The garda answered that it had not yet been recovered.

Dunne told the court he would abide by bail terms and he agreed that he denies the allegations, “most certainly, most certainly”.

His solicitor asked the judge to “separate the apparent notoriety of this incident in considering bail”. There was an equal chance the case could remain in the district court, she submitted.

Judge Paula Murphy held that the points for refusing bail were not strong enough and garda concerns could be addressed with strict conditions.

Dunne was remanded on bail in his own bond of €300 but did not have to lodge cash after the judge noted he was on social welfare and living in supported accommodation.

Judge Murphy ordered him to obey a 10pm to 6am curfew, to sign on daily at Store Street Garda station, stay away from Sheriff Street as well as the two national monuments of Luke Kelly at Guild Street and at South King Street, near St Stephen’s Green.

He has to provide gardaí with a contact phone number and be available to answer it at all times.

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He was also ordered to remain sober and was warned gardaí were at liberty to re-enter the case if there was an allegation he breached the terms. His solicitor said she would remind her client of that.

He was ordered to appear again on 8 September next for directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in relation to his trial venue.

Judge Paula Murphy noted he was already due to to appear on that date in relation to his other charge for graffiti damage to the Luke Kelly statue at Guild Street in the city’s north side on 12 July last.

Dunne disputes the garda evidence in that case.

That 1.8m-high marble statue, with copper wire used for The Dubliners singer’s distinctive beard and hair, was unveiled in January 2019 to mark the 35th anniversary of his death, in an area close to where the musician grew up.


Gardaí conduct search as part of social media foreign exchange trading investigation

July 23rd, 2020

GARDAÍ HAVE SEARCHED two premises as part of an investigation into an entity that uses social media to promote foreign exchange trading. 

Gardaí said this organisation uses social media sites like Instagram and Facebook to promote and advise people to invest in Forex (foreign exchange) trading.

The entity promises easy and high returns on investment and it is not authorised by the Central Bank, gardaí said. 

Mobile phones and documentation were seized during the searches today. No arrests have been made.

The ongoing investigation relates to regulation breaches under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2017.

Gardaí said some influencers are involved in this.

They use social platforms to make trading recommendations, advising people when to buy or sell currency or other financial means using foreign exchange traders. 

Gardaí said these influencers usually have a “limited understanding of the Forex trading market”. 

Firms and individuals that offer investment advice in this trading require authorisation from the Central Bank or other regulatory bodies if based outside Ireland. 

How does this happen? 

Gardaí said the companies or individuals promoting this investment do not have offices and aren’t authorised by the Central Bank. Their existence is solely through a website or social media account. 

Gardaí added that influencers and other promoters involved in this showcase their own alleged success in trading by sharing images of themselves online featuring expensive cars, high-end shopping and holidays. 

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Associated accounts will also describe how they made the money so easily on the advice of these influencers. 

Warning signs

Gardaí said one warning sign to identify a potential issue is if the firm offers quick or easy money with high returns through social media. 

Other signs including a quick and easy subscription process and no physical address or contact phone number for the firm or entity offering the advice. 

The public is asked to follow advice from the Central Bank before making financial decisions or providing personal information. 


‘You can see it building, but it’s small steps, it’s small wins – it might be two steps forward, a step back’

July 23rd, 2020

MICHEÁL DONOGHUE ULTIMATELY led Galway to the Holy Grail of an All-Ireland senior hurling title in 2017.

But, when he began his tenure, it wasn’t necessarily a ‘Carlsberg world where you’d hit the ground running and win everything’ as he explains on this week’s episode of How To Win At Dominoes, the coaching podcast hosted by Shane Keegan. 

The Clarinbridge native took the job ahead of the 2016 league, a campaign which saw Galway drop out of Division 1A. 

“I was a Galway supporter from the outset, and I was adamant, at a stage you were going to games and you were going, ‘if I was, if we were, what would we do different’.

“So there were things on the field and equally things off the field that you were saying we’d change.

“But we got relegated from league one and got bombarded. I’ll never forget walking off the pitch after that defeat to Cork and I was being lambasted left, right and centre, abused, top to bottom, and this is only two and half months into the job when you’re only trying to put your own stamp on it.

“And in fairness, the players were brilliant. Their application, dedication, commitment to it. The buy-in from them was top-notch and you can see it building, but it’s small steps, it’s small wins — it might be two steps forward, a step back, but we could see where we wanted to go. But that was a massive kick for us.

“We got lambasted, I remember getting a phone call. I used to stay at home with dad after he got sick.  I remember sleeping at home that night in the home house and getting a call from a high-powered person and just giving me an earful and I remember thinking ‘are you joking like? We’re two months in the job, will you just give us a chance, man.

“And after that we just started progressing and building and putting our own print on it. And it’s not about us and I’ve said this the whole time, it’s about a group of players, and we got a massive response from them.”

Donoghue is the latest top coach to be quizzed by former Galway United and Wexford Youths boss Shane Keegan. He joins a list that includes Pádraig Harrington, Billy Walsh, Gary Keegan, Derek McGrath, Stuart Lancaster, Paul McGinley and more of our elite-level sporting leaders. 

To listen to this week’s episode in full, and to get access to our other member-only podcasts and more great benefits, join The42 Membership today. Click here for more information.





RTÉ has cancelled Dancing With the Stars due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions

July 23rd, 2020

RTÉ HAS ANNOUNCED that Dancing With The Stars has been cancelled for 2021, due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

RTÉ said it would try to bring the show back in 2022, but did not make any firm commitments.

RTÉ’s Head of Entertainment John McHugh said that he was “extremely disappointed” that Dancing With The Stars cannot be produced due to the risks created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“After much discussion, we feel the risks are too high with a production of this scale to proceed with the series in 2021 and we hope to revisit the show in 2022,” said McHugh.

“We understand that the many fans of the series will be disappointed with this decision. However, given the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19 and our duty of care, we believe this decision is the right one,” said McHugh.

The show, which has been on air since 2017, was due to enter its fifth season.

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RTÉ has said that it will continue to work on other projects and that it is currently in discussion with the BBC to try and bring back Dancing With The Stars in 2022.  

RTÉ is also planning on announcing its autumn schedule of programming across TV, radio and online in the coming weeks.

RTÉ presenter Lottie Ryan won the last season, which aired on 15 March, beating back competition from Grainne Gallanagh, Aidan Fogarty and Ryan Andrews.