Coronavirus: One death and 17 new cases confirmed in Ireland

July 23rd, 2020

ONE FURTHER PERSON with Covid-19 has died in Ireland today, the Department of Health confirmed this evening.

There have also been an additional 17 cases reported to health officials in Ireland today.

This brings to 25,819 the total number of cases here, along with 1,754 deaths related to Covid-19.

Dr. Ronan Glynn, the acting Chief Medical Officer, said in a statement: “I appreciate how difficult it is for people to limit their social activities and to physically distance from friends and loved ones.”

Glynn said these actions are “vital” to the effort in suppressing the disease and working towards reopening schools and healthcare services. 

He added that these actions “protect our healthcare workers who have been at the frontline of this pandemic over the past six months.”

Earlier today, the Mater Hospital confirmed that a doctor who worked at the hospital has died following a battle with Covid-19.

In a statement, the hospital said that Dr Syed Waqqar Ali passed away after spending three months in ICU.

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Speaking to RTÉ radio, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said health workers have told him the best way the public can keep them safe is to wear face coverings and abide by public health advice.

“The single most important thing we can do to honour their sacrifices is to do our little bit to try and keep them safe,” Donnelly said. 


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Will it be Ryan or Martin? Voting closes in the Green Party’s leadership contest

July 23rd, 2020

Updated 4 hours ago

VOTING HAS NOW closed in the Green Party leadership contest with results expected tomorrow afternoon. 

Eamon Ryan will be hoping to remain Green Party leader – a post he has held since 2011 – as party members choose between him and deputy leader Catherine Martin. 

Every Green Party member has been sent a postal ballot  – 2,336 in the Republic of Ireland and 598 in Northern Ireland – with the deadline for receipt of ballots passing at 5:30pm today. 

Counting will begin tomorrow morning with a result expected between 2pm and 3pm. As of Tuesday afternoon, 1,673 postal ballots had been returned. 

Counting will be overseen by independent auditors while observers from both of the candidates will also be present.

In recent weeks, both the leader and deputy Leader have made their pitch for leadership. 

Speaking last week, Martin said she wanted to succeed Ryan so she could work for her membership to realise her party’s goals in Government. 

Martin said the party leadership “must be committed to the greenway or the highway”.

Of course, experience is “a valuable attribute”, said Martin, but added that it should not be a “prerequisite” to be the leader of the party.

“We have to be careful not to over emphasise” it, she said, stating that experience and leadership should not be put on a pedestal. She said now is the time for new, calculated risks to be taken. 

Ryan last week said: “I want to stay on as leader. I want the job.”

He said his experience as leader of the party is important, highlighting that he will be chairing the government’s sub-committee on climate action. He said he has experience dealing with Europe and said he has worked hard over the last ten years to get the party where it is today.

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Speaking about Dublin, he said over the years he has looked at each street in the capital and thought about how it can be changed around to make it more accessible to all. 

Now is the time to “grab” Covid as an opportunity to deliver that change. 

Ryan said he wants to turn “decades of thinking and put it into action”, stating that as leader with the most experience he has the ability to make changes “quicker, faster, bigger and better for all”.

Ryan came under fire last week after falling asleep as he was called on to vote during a motion on workers’ rights.

Ryan acknowledged that the incident could damage his prospects in the Green Party’s leadership election.

“It may well do, but I’d have to say to the members of the Green Party that under my leadership, which has been the most successful period in the history of the party… we’ve a parliamentary party of [12 TDs and 4 senators] in the Dáil,” he said on Sunday. 

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‘They just wanted a chance at stardom’: It only ran for one series – but Popstars certainly wasn’t short on drama

July 23rd, 2020

IT HAS BEEN 19 years since Louis Walsh, Linda Martin and Bill Hughes entered our lives in the search for Ireland’s next big thing. 

The trio of judges fronted Popstars in 2001, the nationwide search that would see 5,000 hopefuls audition at venues across the country, with contestants eventually whittled down to fill just half a dozen places in the final band.

The final product? The short-lived ‘Six’ (groups with numbers in the title were quite a thing back in the late ’90s and early-2000s, you may recall). 

The show ran for just one series, as did its UK equivalent which would introduce Hear’Say to the world. News reports from the time describe the Irish production, which ran on RTÉ One, as a “ratings hit”, attracting almost 900,000 viewers, and commanding a 60% overall share of the views on the night it aired. 

In a time before the X Factor and the ‘Got Talent’ phenomena, it delivered some of the most memorable of Irish reality TV moments – not least the passport controversy that surrounded Girls Aloud’s Nadine Coyle or the unsuccessful audition of The Saturday’s Una Healy. 

But what was it that made such a new concept to Irish TV audiences so appealing? 

“It was just a really exciting thing to do with the young people of Ireland. It was a case of pointing the camera out there and just saying ‘is there anyone out there?’, and Jesus, there was so many out there,” former Popstars judge Bill Hughes explained to TheJournal.ie. 

“They showed up and we had to put corrals out. It’s what you see now on X Factor and stuff like that only we were doing it in big hotels around the country and they were queueing down the street and in the rain, they just wanted a chance at stardom.”

The show would only last for one 13-episode series and would be replaced the following year with the You’re A Star format that brought winners Mickey Joe Harte, Chris Doran, and Donna and Joe to the Eurovision contest. 

The modern day equivalents of the Popstars format are, of course, the X factor, Britain’s Got Talent, and The Voice. 

“They’ve all learned from it, this was the start. Popstars had one season in the UK and then one season here so nobody had learned any lessons, had any formulas, or nobody knew what the next thing to do was,” says Hughes. 

Everybody was making it up as we went along. The guy who had made the format came from Australia, it was Screen Time in Australia, he came and he just watched what was going on and he was delighted with what was going on. 

“The big thing was that Linda Martin and I could hear a bum note from a hundred yards so we just quickly got through it and there was no point in having any kids who couldn’t hold a note.” 

Hughes was recognisable figure in the music industry in Ireland at the time and notably directed most of Boyzone’s music videos. 

Following several knock out rounds based on solo performances, group harmonies, and choreography workshops, Sinéad Sheppard, Emma O’Driscoll, Sarah Keating, Andy Orr, Kyle Anderson and Liam McKenna were the six contestants to secure a place in the band. 

Sarah Keating, of course, made the cut only after Nadine Coyle was dropped from the band when it was discovered she was 16 years old at the time, while contestants were required to be over 18. 


Source: sixirishpopstars/YouTube

The band would go on to have two Irish chart number 1 singles with There’s a Whole Lot of Loving Going On and Let Me Be The One, before disbanding shortly after. Most of the popstars would eventually leave music behind them for careers in television and other professions. 

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“15/06/85 making me a Gemini”

But while the band didn’t achieve the level of success or longevity it had hoped for, the legacy of the show, for better or worse, has lived on in the iconic passport scene and exchange between judge and Eurovision winner Linda Martin and Nadine Coyle.

Coyle accidentally revealed her real date of birth was 15 June, 1985 and not 1983 which she had first claimed. 


Source: mipuri/YouTube

In a confrontation with Linda Martin, she doubles down and insists she is 18 before she admits off-camera that she is in fact 16. 

Said Hughes: “Strangely enough it was falling to me to go and tell her, I had to go and challenge her in the house but I was away on holidays and in America… they called me on the phone […] and they told me about Nadine and the age and they were going to have to go to her. So I said ‘you’re going to have to get Linda’.” 

In a teary exchange between Martin and Coyle, the 16-year-old eventually admitted she had lied and that sealed her fate with the band. 

In interviews since, Coyle has claimed she wasn’t aware there was an age requirement to be in the band initially and has admitted being naive about how serious producers would be about it.

The Derry girl would go on to secure a place in Girls Aloud in the UK’s Popstars: The Rivals series, and to tremendous success but to this day, she is still being asked in interviews about her time on the Irish show. 

“She really had the last laugh, didn’t she,” says Hughes. “If she’d still been in Six, she wouldn’t have qualified to get into Girls Aloud and if she didn’t have Girls Aloud, she would have the life she has. She wouldn’t have had the career she’s had with, what, 20 hit singles in the UK.”

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Working from home causes drop in many Irish employees’ mental and physical health, survey finds

July 23rd, 2020

WORKING FROM HOME is having a negative impact on a large portion of the Irish workforce, with many reporting sleep loss, a drop in physical and mental health and a less healthy lifestyle, a new study has found.  

With vast swathes of the population working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mental Health First Aid Ireland undertook a national survey to guage the effect of the dramatic shift in work patterns.  

The research found that half of respondents are experiencing more fatigue than usual, while 40% also reported a loss of sleep due to worry.

Managing the boundary between work and home life was described as ‘very difficult’ by 42% of respondents, while nearly half of those surveyed said that working longer hours has become a feature of their job.

Despite the extra hours, 59% of people revealed that they are worried about their job security.

A range of musculoskeletal problems, including neck, back and shoulder pain, have also cropped up for around 45% of workers. Over 40% reported experiencing more eyestrain than usual.

Diet and exercise have also taken a hit with 24% admitting to drinking more alcohol, nearly a third saying that they are eating a less healthy diet and 40% exercising less.

Four out of every ten workers were found to be experiencing poor well-being, as defined by the World Health Organisation’s ‘well-being index’. 

Despite the drawbacks more than half of the respondents (57%) said they loved the autonomy of working from home, while 34% said they felt more motivated.

While many are harbouring worries about job security, some 53% still said they felt valued by their employer and almost three quarters (72%) felt trusted by their employers.

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The survey was carried out between mid-May and mid-June and a total of 1,179 people who are working from home responded.

Speaking about the results, Martin Gillick, National Training Co-ordinator for Mental Health First Aid Ireland’s Adult and Workplace programmes said: “Employers repeatedly state that their most important asset is their staff. The results of the survey have shown the challenges that home working and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic present.

These challenges, now more than ever, place an onus on all employers to put in place systems that support the wellbeing of staff.

“These should include both formal and informal supports that foster workplace wellbeing and may include training programmes such as Mental Health First Aid as part of an overarching wellbeing strategy. At the end of the day, a happy and supported workforce is good for business and society.”


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Wellness Wednesday: A postcard from Leigh Arnold in Ibiza

July 23rd, 2020

ON A FREEZING cold January morning in 2016 my husband Steve and I made the life-changing decision to move our young family to our sacred happy space, the island of Ibiza.

Ibiza has been known as a party lovers’ haven, however, few people know the real island, the beautiful place we fell in love with, that has allowed us to live a happier and healthier life.

It was a place we had both visited over the years to see friends and family, during which time we were introduced to what we felt were its unique healing qualities, that ultimately helped us come to terms with losing our baby son Flynn. That was a time in our lives that really, conventional medicines had just served to bandage over our grief – a wound that was too big to heal.

A healing place

Alternative therapies and healthy daily practice including meditation, yoga and breathwork were a saving grace for me and Steve over the past few years. They have continued to help us both cope with life’s obstacles and challenges, rather than sweep them under the carpet, in such a way that we can now look at our lives with positivity, grace and above all acceptance.

When we found our dream home in the north of Ibiza on top of a mountain overlooking the Benirras rock, we knew it was a place we couldn’t keep to ourselves, but rather it had to be a place of healing where we could share with others all the wonderful practices and facilitators that had helped us through our path to healing and growth. And so our retreat, Transformation Station was born.


Transformation Station retreat, Ibiza.

Source: Leigh Arnold

We run wellness retreats in spring, summer and autumn. Our guests experience anything from 3-7 days of what they are looking for at that time. Some retreats cater towards a more mindful and relaxing experience where our guests experience rest, nutritional organic food, mindful practice, meditation and yoga.

Many of the guests enjoy hiking in the surrounding hills, sunrise and sunset set swims, and general rebooting. We and feeling better in themselves when they return to their daily life, hopefully opening their everyday life into a more conscious and aware state and daily simple practices.

Other retreats are more intense. They are for people who feel stuck and unable to shift patterns and emotions that have become part of their daily makeup.

Our facilitators work on both group and one-on-one sessions and workshops where the individual is allowed to come face to face with whatever is holding them back in an extremely safe and loving environment. The whole point of transformation is to become who we truly are and to live a life of honesty and fulfilment.

Unexpected changes

The coronavirus has caused us huge stress, as it did for so many people around the world, isolated in their homes, trying to come to terms with the “new normal”.

Ibiza, as part of Spain, has taken lockdown extremely seriously. Our kids, like all the children in Ireland, were taken out of school and we had to really reevaluate and readjust our lives, like so many others.

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We were not allowed to walk more than 100 metres from our homes. Children were not allowed in cars with parents only in an emergency situation. Masks were to be worn in public places at all times.

However, we stuck to the rules and the cases on the island were very few. The airports are now open to tourism and it’s wonderful to see life buzzing again. But it is by no means the normal Ibiza summer. Bars and cafes are catering more for families and there is less of a party feel to the place. It’s actually lovely, peaceful and quite organic as opposed to the usual hustle and bustle!

I have been in constant contact with friends and family in Ireland, and really applaud how brave and patient they have all been. It’s not been easy to be separated from our loved ones but because of their dedication, it’s wonderful now to see Ireland opening up again, as Spain is starting to.

Many people in lockdown for the first time had time to reflect and look inwards, searching for a deeper meaning in their lives. We, like so many others, had to look at our business with fresh eyes and put our Spring and Summer plans on hold. And with the word in crisis we realised there was more of a need than ever to help people going through these tough times. And so we took things online and created TS Live.

Our TS Live sessions offer meditation, breathwork, yoga, nutrition and much more, reaching people who might not have otherwise had the time or confidence to try them if it wasn’t for lockdown.

From their homes, in the ultimate ‘safe space’, people of all ages and ability levels have taken advantage of the free sessions to grow from the inside out. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response.

Making time for daily self-love and healthy habits can have life-affirming and life-changing effect, and we feel humbled that we can in any way help people in these uncertain times, to grow with a community who share our vision.


Source: Transformation Station

If we can take anything out of these crazy times, it’s to recharge, re-evaluate and restart your life in the way you want to live it. Don’t be afraid. Feel it, be brave, and take the leap. Take care of yourself. You have only one life, so make it count!

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Your spiritual inner health is the key to opening to a more fulfilling world. Look inside. Believe me, once you’ve found who you are and worked through the pain and stress, everything and everyone around you will benefit in a truly positive way.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the everyone has a story. No one goes through life untouched. Let’s be kind to each other. Being kind to yourself is a good place to start. Our retreats will start again later this year when it’s safe, in an immersive rural setting that celebrates nature and the powerful energies of the island. We hope you can join us when it’s safe to do so.

Leigh Arnold is an actress, entrepreneur, wellness advocate, trauma survivor and mother of four. After a successful career in television and theatre, she lost her young baby Flynn to SIDS and her life changed forever. She and her husband Steve now run the Transformation Station retreat centre in Ibiza. Information on retreats here and live sessions here.

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Operation Navigation: Another 20 pubs suspected of breaching Covid-19 restrictions

July 23rd, 2020

GARDAÍ HAVE REPORTED that an additional 20 pubs were found to be breaching Covid-19 restrictions last week.

This brings the total number of premises in breach of the rules to 59 since the Gardaí began Operation Navigation on 3 July.

A majority of these breaches are down to alcohol being consumed, but no evidence of food being served on the premises, alongside a lack of receipts to prove that food is being sold.

According to the Gardaí, the vast majority of pubs and restaurants are following the guidelines.

From 6 to 12 July, 11 premises were suspected to be in breach of the restrictions, while on the weekend of 3 to 5 July, 26 premises were suspected of breaching the restrictions.

An additional two cases have also been recorded as part of previous weeks’ figures, due to the mechanism in which they are reported.

Where breaches are found and if the business does not comply with the regulations, a file is submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for directions as to how to respond.

Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said that the Gardaí welcome the high level of compliance with the restrictions.

“An Garda Síochána continue to carry out intensive visits of licensed premises which have opened for business in accordance with Covid-19 Public Health Regulations. An Garda Síochána continues to see a high level of compliance. This is welcome.

The COVID-19 Pandemic remains a real and present public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens, businesses and organisations to comply with Public Health Guidelines and Regulations in order to continue to save lives.

Currently, Phase Three reopening plans only allow for pubs and restaurants serving a €9 meal to reopen. Customers can only stay on the premises for 105 minutes before they have to leave.

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While all pubs were originally scheduled to reopen on 20 July, this was recently pushed back by the government to 10 August.

These restrictions were upheld due to worries from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), as cases of Covid-19 had begun to rise again.

Speaking in the Dáil recently, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that the earliest pubs will be able to open is 10 August, but it could be pushed back depending on the spread of Covid-19.

“We’re not saying they will open on the 10th of August – we are saying they will open no sooner than the 10th of August,” said Varadkar.

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Jail time increased for man who attacked taxi driver with glass bottle

July 23rd, 2020

A 31-YEAR-old Dublin man, who broke a beer bottle over the head of a taxi driver, has had his jail term increased by nine months on appeal by the State.

David Murphy of Belfry Green in Tallaght had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Slade Road, Saggart, on 21 March, 2015.

The court heard that the taxi driver had collected Murphy and a woman from a house in Clondalkin and was asked to drive them to the Citywest area.

Murphy was carrying a beer can and a bag containing bottles of beer.

As they travelled up Slade Road, Murphy asked the driver to turn back around, and then suddenly pulled the handbrake of the car.

Murphy took a beer bottle from the bag at his feet and smashed it over the driver’s head. He then picked up the remains of the bottle and threatened to stab him if he didn’t get out of the car.

Murphy and the woman eventually left, and the driver escaped.

Murphy, who has a history of violence, was on bail at the time for assaulting a garda.

He has 41 previous convictions, including for assault causing harm, violent disorder, violent behaviour in a garda station and criminal damage.

Judge Pauline Codd sentenced him to three-and-a-half years in prison, but suspended the final two years and nine months of the sentence in light of mitigation.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) today appealed the undue leniency of that sentence to the Court of Appeal.

Derek Cooney BL said that it was the suspended portion of the sentence that was at issue.

He submitted that, with remission, Murphy would serve just six months and three weeks for an offence that the court had considered to be at the uppermost end of the scale.

“The complainant was an innocent taxi driver out earning a living,” he said. “This was an unprovoked and vicious attack.”

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Sarah-Jane O’Callaghan BL responded on behalf of Murphy.

She said that the director was failing to have regard to the fact that a suspended sentence was a real punitive sentence hanging over his head.

“The suspension of a large portion was made legitimately,” she said.

Justice John Edwards, presiding with Justice Patrick McCarthy and Justice Aileen Donnelly, considered the matter for a number of hours.

Justice McCarthy delivered judgment, saying that the extent to which Murphy’s sentence was suspended was unjustified, was a significant departure from the norm and had led to undue leniency.

They quashed the sentence and resentenced him again to three-and-a-half years in prison.

However, this time, they suspended only the final two years.

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The Ukranian President has defended posting a film recommendation in order to end a hostage crisis

July 23rd, 2020

UKRANIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR Zelensky today defended his decision to agree to a hostage-taker’s demand that he post a film recommendation to end a 12-hour stand-off.

Zelensky described how he negotiated personally yesterday evening with a gunman who was holding 13 hostages on a bus in the western city of Lutsk. 

“We have a result – everyone is alive. We are not fighting for (approval) ratings – we are fighting for life,” Zelensky said in a statement of his decision, as some criticised him for giving in to the gunman’s demands.

The SBU security service said all 13 hostages were released unharmed after a police stand-off with the man, who had threatened to detonate an explosive device.

The tense hostage situation ended after the president agreed to post a recommendation of a 2005 US documentary narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix called Earthlings, which condemns humans’ mistreatment of animals. 

Zelensky said he agreed with the hostage-taker, identified as 44-year-old Maksym Kryvosh, that “he would release three people, and after that I would record a video.”  

‘This is a mistake’

The armed man complied and freed three hostages: a man, a pregnant woman and a child.

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In response, the president posted a video message on Facebook and Kryvosh agreed to release all his captives half an hour later, Zelensky said.

The gunman is currently being held in a temporary detention centre, police reported.

The president later deleted the short video from his account.

The SBU security service classed the incident as an “act of terror” and “hostage-taking” and Kryvosh could face up to 15 years in prison.

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Your evening longread: The South Korean loner lifestyle

July 23rd, 2020

EVERY WEEK, WE bring you a round-up of the best longreads of the past seven days in Sitdown Sunday.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you an evening longread to enjoy which will help you to escape the news cycle. 

We’ll be keeping an eye on new longreads and digging back into the archives for some classics.

Tune In, Drop Out

In South Korea, a new community of people has developed around isolation from others. While it has been deemed as socially unacceptable, new sections of the economy have begun to flourish through marketing to this community, known as honjok.

People joining the honjok community has increased in the past decade, with the smartphone revolution and an increase in websites promoting the lifestyle. With businesses like cinemas, bars, restaurants and shops catering for this lifestyle, being a honjok in South Korea is becoming more and more possible.

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(Rest of world, approx 16 minute reading time)

“The criticisms kept building up,” she says, until she reached the point where she didn’t think she could take it anymore. For 26-year-old Hye-min, as for many young South Koreans, life choices feel forced and fixed — and not like actual choices at all. Many feel so beaten down by the rigid social and professional demands of their country that they refer to it as “Hell Joseon,” a play on Korea’s old dynastic name. The path is especially bleak for young women, who must contend with the nation’s deeply rooted misogyny. Deviation from the mainstream is widely viewed as disobedient, and sometimes, in the eyes of older generations, even unpatriotic.

Read all the Evening Longread’s here>

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Kim Kardashian requests compassion while addressing Kanye West’s bipolar disorder

July 23rd, 2020

KIM KARDASHIAN WEST has spoken for the first time about her husband Kanye West’s bipolar disorder after he shared a string of concerning tweets.

She said her husband’s words “sometimes do not align with his intentions”.

West has said in recent weeks that he is planning to run to become US president and has made claims about his family life.

“He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bipolar disorder,” Kardashian said in a lengthy post on Instagram.

She added that she has not discussed his condition before because she is “very protective of our children and Kanye’s right to privacy when it comes to his health”.

She added: “But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health.”

The condition does not “diminish or invalidate his dreams or his creative ideas, no matter how big or unobtainable they may feel to some”, she said.

That is part of his genius and as we have all witnessed, many of his big dreams have come true.

Society should give “grace” to those who suffer from mental health issues, she added.

Living with bipolar yourself, or having a loved one that does, is “incredible complicated and painful” to understand, Kardashian said.

She added: “I kindly ask that the media and public give us the compassion and empathy that is needed so that we can get through this.

Thank you for those who have expressed concern for Kanye’s well-being and for your understanding.

Earlier this week West claimed his wife had tried to get a doctor to “lock me up” after he revealed they considered an abortion when expecting their first child.

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West, who says he is running for US president, told a crowd on Sunday that a message from God convinced him to keep the baby.

He added that while he believed abortion should be legal, financial incentives to help struggling mothers could be a way to discourage the practice.

“Everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars,” he said as an example.

While the rapper has said he is running for his country’s highest office, it appears he missed the cut-off to run in South Carolina.

He previously shared a petition calling for his name to be added to the ballot in the state.

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Man Utd edge closer to Champions League after West Ham draw

July 23rd, 2020

MANCHESTER UNITED EDGED closer to qualifying for the Champions League as Mason Greenwood rescued a 1-1 draw against West Ham on Wednesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fell behind to Michail Antonio’s penalty in the first half at Old Trafford.

But teenage forward Greenwood struck after the interval to lift United into third place in the Premier League.

United are ahead of fourth placed Chelsea on goal difference, but the Blues would regain third if they avoid defeat against champions Liverpool later on Wednesday.

Regardless of the result at Anfield, United will finish in the top four if they draw or win in their decisive showdown with fifth placed Leicester on Sunday.

United are one point ahead of Leicester going into their last game of the season at the King Power Stadium.

Solskjaer’s team were well below their best against West Ham, but they are now unbeaten in 13 league matches and will complete an impressive surge into the Champions League if they emerge unscathed at Leicester.

They can also qualify for Europe’s elite club competition if they win the Europa League in August.

Solskjaer will have been relieved there were no costly mistakes from David De Gea after the United keeper retained his place.

The Spaniard made two embarrassing errors that led to goals in United’s 3-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea on Sunday.

But De Gea has started every league game since Solskjaer took charge and the United manager backed him in a pre-match interview, saying: “Form might be temporary but class is permanent is that saying and he’s an absolutely top keeper.”

West Ham’s point ensured they are mathematically certain to avoid relegation.


Michail Antonio converted from the penalty spot in the first half for West Ham

Source: Martin Rickett

Beaten for the first time in 20 matches in all competitions at the weekend, United had no time to sulk as they looked to secure that lucrative Champions League berth.

United knew draws against West Ham and Leicester would be enough to secure a top four finish.

After their sluggish show at Wembley, Solskjaer’s men made a more enterprising start this time and West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski was tested twice inside the first four minutes.



– Mature Greenwood –

Anthony Martial’s stinging strike from just inside the penalty area forced an excellent save from Fabianski, who then plunged to his right to keep out Greenwood’s effort.

Rashford tried his luck from 30 yards, but the forward’s powerful drive was too close to Fabianski, while Greenwood’s close-range shot was blocked by Ogbonna.

De Gea had been a spectator for the first 40 minutes and when he was finally called into action, Antonio’s header lacked the power to trouble him.

But De Gea still had to pick the ball out of the net moments before half-time after Paul Pogba handed West Ham a penalty.

Declan Rice’s free-kick was smashed straight at Pogba, who instinctively stuck up his arms to protect his face.

Despite Pogba dropping to the turf as though he had been hit in the head, VAR confirmed the France midfielder’s handball.

Antonio took the spot-kick, sending De Gea the wrong way for his sixth goal in his last three games.

United had let the first half drift out of their control, but Greenwood dragged them level with another demonstration of his remarkable maturity in the 51st minute.


Mason Greenwood fires home a second-half equaliser

Source: Catherine Ivill

Dropping deep to exchange passes with Martial, the 18-year-old kept his composure to drill a clinical finish past Fabianski from 12 yards.

No teenager has ever scored more goals in a single season in all competitions for United than Greenwood, whose 17th of the season moved him level with George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney.

With Bruno Fernandes unable to exert his usual influence, United fell away after Greenwood’s goal and De Gea made a superb tip-over from Jarrod Bowen’s venomous blast before Rice shot narrowly wide from 25 yards.

© – AFP 2020  

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‘Beautiful, caring and wise’: Ruth Morrissey remembered at funeral

July 23rd, 2020

Updated 1 hour ago

CERVICAL CHECK CAMPAIGNER Ruth Morrissey was a “beautiful soul” who showed great resilience and strength in her final years, her funeral has heard.

Ruth, who died on Sunday aged 39, was among hundreds of women affected by the controversy around incorrect smear test results.

Close friends and family gathered at Mary Magdalene Church in Monaleen, Co Limerick, for her funeral mass.

The mother-of-one’s death comes two years after her €2.1 million High Court win against the Health Service Executive (HSE) and two laboratories over the misreading of two cervical smear tests.

Delivering a personal tribute at the service, Ruth’s husband Paul said his wife was “stunningly beautiful, caring and wise”.

He added: “I met Ruth Maloney when she was 17 and I was 19. From that moment on, it was just the two of us – a team.

“Ruth was my girlfriend but she was also my best friend. We did everything together and it helped that we were both Man United supporters.

It is no secret that in our relationship, Ruth was the boss. I was quite simply happy with the arrangement – it suited me. I knew she was right.

“Not only was Ruth stunningly beautiful with a smile that would light up any room that she walked into, she was so loving and caring and well able to give sound advice, whether you wanted to hear it at the time or not.

“She was wise beyond her years – so witty, great fun and people were drawn to her. I don’t know how I got so lucky when she agreed to come my way.”


The funeral of Ruth Morrissey in Limerick.

Source: PA

Paul Morrissey became emotional as he spoke about his daughter Libby.

He said: “In 2011, we became a trio when our amazing daughter Libby was born. Ruth was a natural mother, she adored Libby and Libby made Ruth so proud and happy.

“Everything we did was as a family and spending time together was so important to Ruth.

Libby has inherited so many of Ruth’s qualities. She made a card for her mother on Saturday and signed it ‘mini Ruth’ – I think that says it all.

“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 still managed to keep her sense of humour and appreciate the simple things in life.”

He broke down as he added: “Me and Libby are truly heartbroken and devastated. I don’t think we will ever recover from losing Ruth.”

A bag of jelly sweets to represent her sweet tooth, a butterfly and a jar of face cream were among the symbols brought up to the altar.

Fr Noel Kirwan also paid tribute to Ruth.

Related Read

22.07.20
HSE CEO apologises to Ruth Morrissey as family say they are 'truly heartbroken' at funeral

He said: “There is a day ahead when God will bring us all together because that is what the resurrection is, a promise of eternal life together.

“May her beautiful soul guide us. May her beautiful soul give us strength, may her beautiful soul lead us on to that day of reunion and may she rest in peace now – her journey over and her battle ended but her life eternal.

“The final thought I will leave you with… even though she was part of a big family, it was said she could have been an only child.

From the very beginning, she was content within herself and joyful within herself, but it was because she was cocooned in love. She was cocooned in love and so she was at home in her life.


The funeral of Ruth Morrissey in Limerick.

Source: PA

A large crowd gathered outside the church as the coffin was taken to a private burial.

The song Roar by Katy Perry was played as Ruth’s coffin left the church and her daughter Libby carried a single yellow rose.

CervicalCheck campaigners Vicky Phelan and Lorraine Walsh and leader of the Labour Party, Alan Kelly, were among the mourners.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and President Michael D Higgins were represented by their aide-de-camps.

HSE apology

Meanwhile, HSE CEO Paul Reid paid tribute to Ruth as an “incredibly courageous woman” and offered his sympathies to her family.

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Reid said he has written to her husband to express the HSE’s deepest sympathies and apology for what happened to her.

A minute’s silence was held in the Dáil yesterday in Ruth’s honour.

Micheál Martin said the government acknowledged the failures of CervicalCheck and was profoundly sorry about what had been allowed to happen.

He added: “Those of us who were here and have the responsibility of elected office have a solemn duty to learn the lessons from these errors, to reform the system and to make sure they never happen again.”

He said Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is in the process of appointing a new judge to the CervicalCheck tribunal.

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Health Minister ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of doctor who died three months after contracting Covid-19

July 23rd, 2020

Updated 1 hour ago

THE HEALTH MINISTER Stephen Donnelly has offered his condolences to the friends and family of a hospital doctor who died following a battle with Covid-19. 

The Mater Hospital, where Dr Syed Waqqar Ali worked, confirmed today that he passed away after spending three months in ICU.

Dr Ali was a frontline healthcare worker who “provided selfless emergency care to Covid 19 patients at a number of hospitals as a locum during this emergency pandemic”, the hospital said.

Stephen Donnelly said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of the doctor’s death today. 

“I want to express my sincere condolences to Dr Ali’s family, his friends and his colleagues,” the Minister for Health said in a statement this evening.

It’s clear from Dr Ali’s colleagues that he was a kind, compassionate, hardworking and highly professional man, working on the front line of Covid-19 to keep us all safe.

“We remember that behind every reported Covid-19 number is a person who loves and is loved, who leaves behind a family and a community who will miss them sorely,” Donnelly said. 

“Today we remember Dr Ali and the seven other healthcare workers who have lost their lives to Covid-19.” 

Observing a minute’s silence before handover from the night shift in Mater ED. @MaterTrauma Remembering Dr Waqar Ali. RIP. Condolences and Sympathies to his family his friends and his colleagues. #FrontlineHero #FrontlineSacrifice pic.twitter.com/dUGWvvuZUy

— geroconnor (@drgeroconnor) July 22, 2020

Source: geroconnor/Twitter

The Mater Hospital said: “He had been due to begin a shift at the Mater Hospital in April when he felt unwell. He asked to be seen as a patient and was admitted immediately with Covid 19 illness.

His colleagues remember him as a hardworking and diligent doctor with a humble and down to earth personality.

“The Mater Hospital extends its deepest sympathies to Dr Syed Waqqar Ali’s wife, family and loved ones at this very sad time,” it said.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid also paid tribute to Dr Ali earlier today and said in a statement that he had learned with great sadness of the doctor’s passing.

“In common with his colleagues, I know he worked diligently and selflessly to care for patients at all times, and particularly during the pandemic,” Reid said. 

Reid extended the sympathy of all in the HSE, and all healthcare staff, to Dr Ali’s wife, family and loved ones “at this very said time”.

Paying tribute to Dr Ali this afternoon, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said he was an “exemplary medical professional with an immense dedication to public service”. 

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“His expertise, care and warmth made an impression with patients and colleagues alike,” it said.

The association said “this was evident every day” among those who worked with Dr Ali and “witnessed at first hand his deep commitment to healthcare”.

The IHCA added its “thoughts and condolences” are with Dr Ali’s wife, his children and mother “at this sad time”.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said the death of Dr Syed Waqqar Ali “is a matter of sorrow for every health professional in Ireland”.

The organisation offered its “deepest sympathy” to the doctor’s family and colleagues. 

“This tragedy reminds us of the risks faced & sacrifices made by health professionals in the fight against Covid-19,” it added.

– With reporting by Orla Dwyer


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Amber Heard denies telling ‘lies’ about claims Johnny Depp was violent towards her

July 23rd, 2020

Updated 55 minutes ago

AMBER HEARD HAS denied telling “lies” about her claims Johnny Depp was violent towards her on a day in which she told the High Court the star threw bottles “like grenades” during an alleged explosive row in Australia.

The actress claimed she was “too scared to look behind” her as the actor threw “all the bottles in reach”.

On the twelfth day of Depp’s trial against The Sun newspaper, Heard faced questioning over several allegations she has made against the actor about his violent conduct in the course of their relationship – all of which he denies.

The actor is suing the tabloid’s publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an April 2018 article which labelled him a “wife beater”.

Heard (34) was asked about an alleged incident in Australia in March 2015 – which she has previously described as a “three-day hostage situation”.

Eleanor Laws QC, representing Depp (57) put it to Heard that during the alleged Australia episode the actress “worked yourself into a rage, screaming at him” and threw a glass bottle.

Heard said she got angry “at times” but “not to the extent where I would throw anything at him offensively”.

In response to a suggestion from Laws that she threw a bottle at Depp’s head, smashing a mirror behind him, Heard said she did break a bottle “very early” one evening of the trip, and it was “before Johnny had started to throw the bottles at me”.

Heard claimed the couple were in an argument about Depp drinking and when she confronted him, he offered her the bottle.

She said Depp was “teasing me to take it” and then pulling it away.

Heard went on to say she “reached for it a second time and I smashed it on the floor in between Johnny and I”, adding: “I regret I did that.”

She told the court: “He started picking them [bottles] up one by one and throwing them like grenades.

“One after the other after the other, in my direction, and I felt glass breaking behind me, I retreated more into the bar and he didn’t stop.

“I was too scared to look behind me. He threw all the bottles that were in reach, all except for one which was a celebratory magnum-sized bottle of wine.”

Heard said she remembered that was the only bottle not smashed out of 30 or so.

The court has previously heard that Depp’s finger was severed during the alleged episode.

Laws put it to Heard that the injury was caused by her “throwing a bottle in his direction, smashing it down and severing the tip of his finger with glass”, to which Heard replied: “No.”

Laws said: “According to you, Mr Depp sliced his finger off all on his own … and then carried on attacking you.”

Heard said: “Yes, he did. I don’t think he meant to sever the finger but yes he did continue the attack.”

The actress was asked about an alleged incident of domestic violence in Los Angeles in December 2015, which she described in a witness statement as “one of the worst and most violent nights of our relationship”.

Heard alleges that Depp slapped her, dragged her by the hair through their apartment – pulling clumps of her hair out – and then repeatedly punched her in the head, which he denies.

The actress became visibly upset as Laws read through passages of her witness statement detailing the alleged abuse.

She was asked: “That’s just a complete set of lies, isn’t it?”

Heard quietly replied: “No.”

Medical notes

The court heard that medical notes made by a nurse, Erin Boerum, who saw Heard shortly after the alleged incident in Los Angeles, recorded that Heard was “actively bleeding on her lip” and that she “briefly looked at the client’s scalp but was unable to visualise haematomas the client described”.

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When it was put to her that she had no bruises when she saw Boerum, Heard said: “I had two black eyes, a broken nose, a broken rib… I had bruises all over my body.”

After she gave more details of injuries, Laws suggested: “This is just nonsense, isn’t it? She [Boerum] didn’t see any bruising… you had just bitten your lip because there was fresh blood on it. Had you just done that for her benefit?”

Heard replied: “Of course not.”

Laws also asked Heard about her first allegation of violence against Depp, which she says happened after she remarked on his ‘Wino Forever’ tattoo.

Heard said it was the “first time I had been hit like that since I was a child”, adding: “It didn’t feel painful necessarily, it just felt like a pop.

“The first time he hit me, I didn’t even know he was serious, I was laughing, I thought he was joking… I just didn’t know.”

The court has also heard from two of Heard’s friends, Joshua Drew, the ex-husband of Heard’s friend Raquel “Rocky” Pennington, and Melanie Inglessis, a make-up artist.

Inglessis told the court she had “many conversations” with Heard about her relationship with Depp and that the restraining order Heard obtained in May 2016 did not come “out of the blue”.

Depp is suing NGN and The Sun’s executive editor Wootton over the publication of an article on April 27 2018, with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”

His lawyers say the article bore the meaning there was “overwhelming evidence” Depp assaulted Heard on a number of occasions and left her “in fear for her life”.

NGN is defending the article as true, and says Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.

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Quiz: How much do you know about the ‘green list’ countries?

July 23rd, 2020

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

Fifteen locations are on the initial list, which is set to be monitored as countries respond to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

The publication of the green list comes despite public health advice that people should avoid non-essential travel abroad.

So, you probably shouldn’t go to any of these places, but how much do you know about them?

Finland marks National Failure Day every 13 October which "permits Finnish people to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them". 

Shutterstock

True 

False

I don't know the answer, I'm sure a failure


How long did the last King of Italy, Umberto II, reign?

Shutterstock

3 days

34 days

340 days

He is still in charge 


What was the first international fast food restaurant to open in Hungary (in 1988)?

Shutterstock

McDonald’s

Burger King

Leo Burdocks


Monaco is smaller than Central Park in New York City.

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True

False


Name the three Maltese islands.

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Malta, Gozo and Comino

Malta, Gozel and Comina

Malteser, Rolo and Starburst


Which country completely encloses San Marino?

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Italy

Croatia

Slovenia 

Scotland


Slovakia has a nine-metre statue, the highest in the world, of what?

Shutterstock

A former president

A lion

A horse

A duck 


How many people live in Gibraltar, which covers an area of 6.7 square-km?

Shutterstock

24,000

34,000

44,000

1,000,000


What is Latvia's national sport?

Shutterstock

Ice hockey

Rugby

Soccer

Hurling


Greece has the longest coastline in Europe.

Shutterstock

True

False


Answer all the questions to see your result!

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You scored out of !

Top dog

You nailed it, well done!

Share your result:

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You scored out of !

Clever cat

Almost purrfect!

Share your result:

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You scored out of !

Fintastic dolphin

Good job!

Share your result:

You scored out of !

Ewe must be joking

Baaaaaad!

Share your result:

Shutterstock

You scored out of !

Turtley awful

A shell of a bad effort!

Share your result:

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Robinson and O’Shea help steer West Brom back to the Premier League

July 23rd, 2020


Callum Robinson celebrates after putting West Bromwich Albion 2-1 up against Queens Park Rangers.

Source: PA

WEST BROMWICH ALBION are a Premier League club once again after clinching the Championship’s second automatic promotion spot this evening – despite having to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Queens Park Rangers.

Republic of Ireland senior international Callum Robinson played a pivotal role for West Brom, who also had Irish U21 defender Dara O’Shea in their starting line-up.

Another Irishman, Ryan Manning, threatened to hinder the Baggies’ promotion prospects when the Galway native scored in the 34th minute for a QPR side that also contained O’Shea’s U21 international team-mate Conor Masterson.

Slaven Bilic’s side drew level just before the interval when Robinson played in Grady Diangana to score. The roles were reversed five minutes into the second half, with Diangana teeing up Robinson to give his side the lead from close range.

Eberechi Eze earned a point for the visitors by finding the net just after the hour mark, but the outcome proved to be more than sufficient for West Brom as results elsewhere went in their favour.

In the circumstances, a win at home to struggling Barnsley would have handed automatic promotion to Brentford. However, owing to a shock 2-1 defeat, the Bees will have to head down the play-off route if they’re to play top-flight football next season for the first time since 1947.

Fulham – who had Harry Arter in their starting line-up and Cyrus Christie on the bench – will also have to be content with a play-off place. They could only manage a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic, although even a win wouldn’t have been enough for Scott Parker’s side to be promoted automatically as they required a defeat for West Brom.




Source: Sky Bet Championship

After two campaigns back in the Championship, West Brom will return to the Premier League next season along with Championship winners Leeds United, who rounded off a memorable campaign with a 4-0 win against Charlton Athletic.

Whether Robinson will be with the Hawthorns outfit remains to be seen. As things stand, the attacker is due to return from his loan spell to Sheffield United.

It has been a remarkable season for O’Shea, who only made his Championship debut in December. The versatile Dubliner ends the season with 21 appearances to his name in all competitions. He also chipped in with three goals along the way.

Elsewhere, there was incredible drama in the battle to secure the final play-off spot, with Ireland international James McClean having a significant impact.

Related Read

21.07.20
O'Brien: 'This brings great sadness and it is hard for me to take in'

Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest each held a three-point lead over seventh-placed Swansea City going into tonight’s games. Cardiff booked their play-off place by beating Hull City 3-0, but Forest squandered their opportunity in spectacular fashion.

Their 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke City – for whom McClean scored the second goal – coupled with Swansea’s 4-1 victory at Reading mean that it’s the Welsh side who advance to the play-offs as their goal difference is superior by just one. 

Preston North End, whose play-off hopes had already been dashed, drew 1-1 away to Bristol City, with Ireland striker Sean Maguire ending a run of 24 games without a goal by giving the visitors a first-half lead.

Play-off semi-finals

  • First leg: Swansea City vs Brentford – Sunday 26 July, 6.30pm
  • Second leg: Brentford vs Swansea City – Wednesday 29 July, 7.45pm
  • First leg: Cardiff City vs Fulham – Monday 27 July, 7.45pm
  • Second leg: Fulham vs Cardiff City – Thursday 30 July, 7.45pm

Play-off final

  • Wembley: Tuesday 4 August, 7.45pm

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Bats’ genes can help them fight off coronaviruses, study suggests

July 23rd, 2020

GENES THAT ALLOW bats to fight off deadly diseases such as coronaviruses have been uncovered by a team of global scientists, according to a study.

Researchers generated and analysed six highly accurate genomes, which start to uncover bats’ ability as mammals to fly, survive fatal infections and navigate complete darkness using sound – known as echolocation.

The global scientists’ consortium, known as Bat1K, believes these genetic materials could be used as tools to identify the solutions evolved in bats and could be harnessed to alleviate human ageing and disease.

Dr Michael Hiller, senior author of the study, of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, said: “Our genome scans revealed changes in hearing genes that may contribute to echolocation, which bats use to hunt and navigate in complete darkness.

Furthermore, we found expansions of anti-viral genes, unique selection on immune genes and loss of genes involved in inflammation in bats.

“These changes may contribute to bats’ exceptional immunity and points to their tolerance of coronaviruses.”

Scientists discovered “fossilised viruses” in the DNA, which they believe is evidence of surviving past viral infections.

They say this shows bat genomes contain a higher diversity than other species, providing a record of historical tolerance to viral infection.

The team used new technologies to sequence the bats’ DNA to gather the genomes.

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New methods were then developed to assemble these pieces into the correct order and to identify the genes present.

Senior author Dr Sonja Vernes, Bat1K co-founding director and UK Research and Innovation Fellow at St Andrews University, said: “These are the first reference-quality genomes for bats.

“Having such complete and well-annotated genomes allowed us unprecedented insight into the genetic and evolutionary abilities seen in bats.”

The study can be found in the Nature journal.


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Poll: Should the rent freeze and eviction ban be extended beyond August?

July 22nd, 2020

YESTERDAY, HOUSING MINISTER Darragh O’Brien said that the temporary rent freeze and ban on evictions would be extended until 1 August.

The measures were due to end yesterday, but were extended temporarily while other measures are put in place to protect tenants and property owners, the Minister said.

People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett and Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin have called for the rent freeze and the eviction ban to be extended long term – with the latter calling for it to be extended until October, or even the end of this year.

So we’re asking, should the rent freeze and eviction ban be extended beyond 1 August?

Poll Results:

Yes, and beyond October (3837)

No (2129)

Yes, but only until October (1561)

No, and it should end now (1455)

  • Yes, but only until October
  • Yes, and beyond October
  • No
  • No, and it should end now

Vote

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Israeli airstrike in Syria kills five Iran-backed paramilitary fighters

July 22nd, 2020

FIVE IRAN-BACKED fighters were killed in an Israeli missile strike south of the Syrian capital, a UK-based war monitor has said.

The missile attack last night hit weapons depots and military positions belonging to Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed militia fighters south of Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The attack wounded at least seven Syrian troops, according to the official SANA news agency, which said the missiles were launched by warplanes over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The five killed were all non-Syrian paramilitary fighters, according to the Observatory.

It added that 11 combatants were wounded in total — four non-Syrian fighters and seven Syrian troops, of which two were in critical condition.

A military spokesman in Israel told AFP that its army “does not comment on foreign reports”.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.

It has targeted government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, saying its goal is to end Tehran’s military presence in Syria.

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It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria but says Iran’s presence in support of the regime is a threat and that Israel will keep up strikes.

The nine-year-old conflict in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced more than half of the country’s pre-war population.

© – AFP 2020

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Woman (20s) arrested in connection with Limerick shooting

July 22nd, 2020

A WOMAN IN her 20s has been arrested in connection with a shooting in Limerick last month.

The shooting happened in the Castle Street area of Limerick city on 11 June, when gardaí discovered a man with non life-threatening injuries who had been shot in his car.

The woman is being detained at Henry Street garda station. Her arrest follows the detention of a man in his 40s over the same incident yesterday. He is still being held, also at Henry Street garda station.

Gardaí have issued a further appeal to anyone who was in the Long Pavement and Castle Street area between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on 11 June, particularly road users with video footage, to come forward.

They are also asking anyone who may have seen a green Ford Galaxy in those areas to contact Henry Street garda station on 061 212 400 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

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