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The 9 at 9: Friday

Cyber attack on HSE, Covid-19 outbreak at Mountjoy Prison and ongoing violence in Gaza

Image: Shutterstock/I love coffee

Updated May 14th 2021, 8:45 AM

GOOD MORNING. Here’s all the news that you need to know about as you start your day.

Mountjoy

1. In our lead story today, Niall O’Connor writes that gardaí have been advised not to visit the Mountjoy Prison complex in Dublin as part of investigations as the facility deals with a Covid-19 outbreak.

The direction was given by garda management as prison authorities seek to halt the spread of the virus.

Cyber attack

2. In a story developing this morning, the HSE has been forced to shut down its IT systems after a “significant ransomware attack”.

The Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin has cancelled all non-urgent appointments and other hospitals are likely to be impacted. The HSE said its Covid-19 vaccination programme has not been affected and people should attend those appointments as normal.

Gaza

3. Israel has bombarded Gaza with artillery and airstrikes today in response to a new barrage of rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave, in an intensification of a conflict that has now claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives.

Days of deadly violence have seen Israeli soldiers massing on the edge of the territory, although the army stressed there had been no ground incursion despite an earlier statement that troops were carrying out an attack “in the Gaza Strip”.

Martin and Johnson

4. Taoiseach Micheál Martin will travel to the UK today to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The lunchtime meeting will take place at Chequers, the British prime minister’s country residence, where it is expected the leaders will discuss the response to Covid-19, and a range of issues relevant to peace and stability in Northern Ireland including the Ballymurphy Massacre inquest and apology, as well as the broader British-Irish relationship.

DUP

5. Keeping the focus on Northern Ireland, the DUP will take the unprecedented step today of electing a new leader – the fourth leader in the party’s 50-year history will be the first to be elected.

Ian Paisley Sr was the founder and first leader of the party, with successors Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster essentially taking over after they faced no opposition.

Foster’s departure has led to much debate about the future direction of the largest party in unionism, with two men vying to take over: Edwin Poots MLA and Jeffrey Donaldson MP.

Housing

6. When the European Commission recently looked at Ireland’s affordability crisis, it warned that “the surge in house prices in recent years seems to have been mainly driven by increases in land prices and construction margin”. As ever, land and money. And as in the past, it is not only the physical environment that is changed by housing, the economic and electoral landscapes are affected too.

Dr Lorcan Sirr and Orla Hegarty write that to understand the current housing crisis, you must first learn of the history of housing provision in Ireland.

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OPW

7. Some good news as the country starts to open up: Admission charges to all fee-paying open OPW heritage sites are being waived until the end of the year, Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has announced.

The OPW said this measure will support the domestic tourism industry and local businesses relying on it by incentivising people in Ireland to enjoy the heritage sites, parks and museums spread across the country.

Reopening business

8. There is a growing clamour from businesses in certain beleaguered sectors for some kind of early reopening, Ian Curran writes over on our business digest Morning Memo.

Although it seems unlikely that government ministers will divert from the current course, restaurants, tourism-adjacent businesses and the airline industry are all doubling down on calls for restrictions to be lifted sooner than planned. Sign up to receive the newsletter to your inbox here.

Weather

9. And finally, the weather: There will be scattered showers today, heaviest in Leinster, Ulster and east Connacht. Rain will develop in the southwest in the late afternoon and spread over Munster this evening. Highest temperatures will range from 11 to 15 degrees.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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