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The 9 at 9: Wednesday

Hospitality reps to meet government and tributes paid to priest killed in Cork crash.

Image: Shutterstock/stockcreations

Updated Aug 4th 2021, 8:52 AM

GOOD MORNING.

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

Congestion charges 

1. In our main story today, CJ McKinney examines whether a congestion charge would work in Ireland. 

London has had congestion charges for almost 20 years to discourage people from driving into the city centre.

The issue has been moving closer to home as last week, the Oireachtas budgetary oversight committee recommended that the Government examine the introduction of congestion charges to help pay for the cost of climate change. 

Hospitality

2. Industry representatives have said the 11.30pm curfew for pubs and restaurants should be scrapped in September. 

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) and other industry groups are set to meet with Government officials later today to discuss further easing of Covid-19 restrictions next months. 

CEO of the RAI Adrian Cummins told The Journal that the association is looking for PCR and antigen testing to be used in order to allow unvaccinated people to dine indoors. 

Cork crash

3. A pedestrian killed following a bus crash in Co Cork has been named as local priest Fr Con Cronin.

Tributes have been paid to the well-known priest with Bishop Fintan Gavin of the Diocese of Cork and Ross saying there was “utter shock and sadness” at the “untimely” death of Fr Cronin.

Local independent councillor Marcia D’Alton said: “He was a man the like of whom one would rarely meet in one’s lifetime. A spacious man, a man who had room for everybody in his heart, church goers and non-church goers alike, it made no difference.

The driver of the bus, a man in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident after he suffered a medical emergency behind the wheel. 

Olympics

4. Belarusian Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has left Japan on a Vienna-bound flight and was expected to head for Poland, where she has been offered a humanitarian visa. 

The 24-year-old sprinter had been expected to take a direct flight to Warsaw but switched at the last minute, according to an airport official.

The sprinter sought protection from Tokyo 2020 officials on Sunday, claiming she was being forced to return to Belarus, which has been wracked by political upheaval and a crackdown on dissent after disputed elections that returned Alexander Lukashenko to power last year. 

Advice to government 

5. As the possibility of eased restrictions is raised again, a new report has called for clarity on the relationship between the government and NPHET and how key pandemic decisions were made.

The study by legal experts from Trinity College Dublin has criticised a lack of transparency on how decisions were reached and whether certain public health measures were legally enforceable.

The report claimed that NPHET, on some occasions, became the “de facto decision maker” rather than simply an adviser to government. 

Cuomo investigation 

6. Over in the United States, New York governor Andrew Cuomo is facing mounting pressure to resign, including from President Joe Biden, after an investigation found he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.

“I think he should resign,” Biden told reporters yesterday, echoing the sentiments of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York’s US Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, all Democrats.

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An investigation concluded that 11 women — in and out of state government — who said that Cuomo had touched them inappropriately, commented on their appearance or made suggestive comments about their sex lives were telling the truth. 

Air travel

7. A union has confirmed that air traffic controllers and other staff in the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have “concerns” about the break up of the organisation.

A spokesperson for Fórsa, which represents air traffic controllers and other staff in the IAA, said that it was understandable that members are worried about the move but said that industrial action is unlikely. 

Beirut blast

8. Today marks the one-year anniversary of an explosion which ravaged the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

People in Lebanon are experiencing a mix of grief over lost lives and rage at the impunity for its worst peacetime disaster at a time when the economy was already in tatters.

At least 214 people were killed in the incident. 

Return of the walrus 

9. In some lighter news, the arctic walrus spotted off the Kerry coastline in March is back – and this time, he’s been spotted near Clonea Strand in Co Waterford.

Alan Houlihan and his daughter Muireann spotted the walrus lounging on rocks at Valentia Island back in March, before other sightings of the tusked mammal emerged off other European coastlines.

On Monday 2 August, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group received images of the walrus swimming near a boat off Clonea Strand in Co Waterford. 

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