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The 9 at 9: Friday

Europe’s drug trade, Des O’Malley’s funeral and the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.

Image: Shutterstock/baibaz

Updated Jul 23rd 2021, 8:49 AM

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

Europe’s drug trade

1. In our main story today, Niall O’Connor reports that Irish criminals are now among the biggest players in the estimated €14 billion annual business of transatlantic drug smuggling into Europe.

That’s according to Michael O’Sullivan, the former head of the precursor to the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, who is now leading the influential Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Portugal.

The international anti-drug trafficking agency was founded by a group of EU member states, including Ireland, in the 2000s.

Boy dies while swimming

2. A 15-year-old boy who was recovered from Lough Sheelin yesterday afternoon has died in hospital. 

The boy was swimming in the lake, which is located on the border of Westmeath, Meath and Cavan. 

He was rescued from the water shortly before 3pm. 

Des O’Malley

3. The funeral of the former leader and founder of the Progressive Democrats Des O’Malley will take place today

O’Malley died on Wednesday at the age of 82. 

The Limerick man was a former Fianna Fáil minister who was expelled from the party following a number of unsuccessful heaves against Charlie Haughey. He formed the PDs in 1985.

Banking deal

4. Permanent TSB has announced a potential deal to buy about €7.6 billion worth of assets from Ulster Bank. 

The bank has said it has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding with Ulster Bank’s owner NatWest Group Plc regarding a potential acquisition involving certain elements of Ulster Bank Retail and SME business in the Republic of Ireland. 

The assets include Ulster Bank’s performing non-tracker mortgage book, its performing Micro-SME/Business Direct, the Lombard Asset Finance loan business of Ulster Bank and 25 branch locations in Ulster Bank’s network. 

No water

5. Locals in Clogherhead in Co Louth have expressed their frustration after being left without proper running water in the middle of a heatwave.

Supply has been badly impacted in the Drogheda region after a “major burst” occurred on Monday, leaving the surrounding areas without water.

At the time, an Irish Water spokesperson said that repairs were being conducted as quickly and efficiently as possible, to minimise disruption to the community in Drogheda.

However, locals have spoken about how the lack of supply has affected them during the recent warm spell and about how the region is plagued with ongoing water shortages.

Malta holidaymakers

6. All of the holidaymakers who flew from Dublin to Malta and were forced into mandatory quarantine after their HSE vaccine cards were not accepted have now been issued with Digital Covid Certificates.

Malta is part of the EU’s DCC system but those travelling there must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country without having to quarantine.

 The Journal reported on Tuesday that a number of people on the Malta-bound Ryanair flight presented HSE vaccination cards on arrival but they were not deemed as acceptable proof of vaccination despite the cards being checked before boarding. 

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Tokyo Olympics

7. One of the strangest Olympics in history will get off to an equally unusual start when the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony takes place in front of thousands of empty seats today.

Local spectators are barred from almost all Games venues, and only 1,000 dignitaries will be present at the 68,000-seat Olympic Stadium for the traditional extravaganza, usually a time of celebration for the host nation.

This time around, after a year’s pandemic delay, the Japanese public is largely locked out and distrustful of the Games, fearing an influx of infections from the foreign visitors.

Sydney outbreak

8. In Australia, Sydney’s fast-growing coronavirus outbreak has become a “national emergency”, state leaders said today, as the country’s largest city reported another record number of new infections.

Admitting a month-long lockdown had so far failed to stop a Delta-variant outbreak, the state of New South Wales pleaded for Canberra to urgently send more vaccines and resources.

Declaring the outbreak a national emergency could pave the way for more federal government involvement in stemming the crisis.

Covid cases

9. Back in Ireland, public health officials yesterday evening confirmed 1,189 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

The Department of Health reported that 95 patients with the coronavirus disease are in hospital yesterday, including 23 people in intensive care units.

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