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GOOD MORNING

The 9 at 9 The Taoiseach in Belfast, $40 billion for Ukraine and Eamon Ryan on Green unity.

GOOD MORNING.

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

1. Protocol

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is travelling to Belfast today for a series of meetings with all the Northern Ireland party leaders.

Martin met with Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill in Dublin on Monday but his trip north is set to see him meet with all the party leaders including the DUP. 

The DUP is currently blocking the re-establishment of Stormont’s power-sharing Executive in protest at the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

 2. Ukraine

The Russian military has said that more Ukrainian fighters who were making a last stand in Mariupol have surrendered, bringing the total who have left their stronghold to 1,730,

The Red Cross said it had registered hundreds of them as prisoners of war.

Meanwhile, the US Congress today approved a gargantuan $40 billion aid package for Ukraine to help fight Russia’s invasion as US President Joe Biden rallied behind the historic NATO membership bids of Sweden and Finland.

3. National Maternity Hospital Vote

Eamon Ryan has said his parliamentary party “showed real consensus and real strength” in suspending two TDs for voting against the government. 

Deputies Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello on Wednesday voted in favour of a Sinn Féin motion which called on the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to be fully public and located on publicly owned land.

Government TDs from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens largely abstained on the symbolic vote, which was passed in the Dáil by 56 votes in favour, 10 against and 69 abstentions.

4. Davos 

The world’s political and business elite will hobnob in Davos next week after a two-year break caused by Covid, with the Ukraine war set to dominate the exclusive Swiss mountain summit.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar will be among the attendees at the World Economic Forum, with Martin participating in a high-profile discussion on Wednesday about “European Unity in a Disordered World?”.

Martin will be joined in the discussion by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, ECB President Christine Lagarde and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola.

5. Dublin

Dublin’s Capel Street is set to be permanently pedestrianised from today, making it the longest traffic free street in the city.

Measures were put in place by Dublin City Council last summer for temporary pedestrianisation of both Capel Street and Parliament Street to allow outdoor dining.

The change was trialled on weekend evenings for 17 weeks and following a public consultation, 91% of the 1,766 submissions received were in favour of the proposal.

6. Festival Season

A number of Irish music festivals have signed up to a campaign aimed at tackling sexual violence ahead of Europe’s festival season.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) first launched its charter of best practice in 2017 to tackle sexual violence, harassment and assault at festivals.

The charter was relaunched earlier this month and more than 100 festivals across the UK and Ireland, including Electric Picnic, have signed up.

7. Sexual Violence

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is to launch a major review of how it deals with the psychology of sex offenders in custody. 

The review follows a major investment in psychological services. 

The funding has been secured with a more modern approach to the psychiatric needs of prisoners now a greater focus of prison life. 

8. Health

Health authorities in North America and Europe have detected dozens of suspected or confirmed cases of monkeypox since early May, sparking concern the disease endemic in parts of Africa is spreading.

Canada was the latest country to report it was investigating more than a dozen suspected cases of monkeypox, after Spain and Portugal detected more than 40 possible and verified cases.

Britain has confirmed nine cases since 6 May, and the United States verified its first on Wednesday, saying a man in the eastern state of Massachusetts had tested positive for the virus after visiting Canada.

9. Wagatha Christie

Coleen Rooney’s barrister has told the UK High Court the libel claim brought against her by Rebekah Vardy is “extraordinary”.

In a viral social media post in October 2019, Rooney, 36, said she had carried out a “sting operation” and accused Vardy, 40, of leaking “false stories” about her private life to the press.

The wife of former England star Wayne Rooney was dubbed “Wagatha Christie” when she publicly claimed an account behind three fake stories she had posted on her personal Instagram account with The Sun newspaper was Vardy’s.

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