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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C

The 9 at 9 Simon Coveney to raise Russian military exercise with EU; domestic abuse figures; and another BoJo probe.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 24th 2022, 8:50 AM

GOOD MORNING. YOU just might be reading this on your way into the office for the first time this year – after the phased return to offices kicked in from today as the Government lifted the bulk of Covid restrictions at the weekend. 

So take your mind of the commute and read the latest headlines – starting with the worrying situation at Ukraine’s borders.

1. Russian threat to Ukraine

The United States has ordered the families of its diplomats in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to leave the country “due to the continued threat” of a Russian invasion, as Washington also advised against travel to Russia, particularly to areas on its border with Ukraine, warning that Americans could face “harassment” and that Washington would have “limited ability” to assist them.

The EU said it was not following the US in withdrawing its diplomats’ families from Ukraine – while the UK announced that it would withdraw some staff from Kyiv.

Top European diplomat Josep Borrell said there was no need to “dramatise” the situation while talks with Russia continue.

The Ukraine called the move “premature” and “a display of excessive caution”.

Last night, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that he would inform his European colleagues of Russia’s plan to carry out a military exercise off the Cork coast next month, and reiterate Ireland’s “full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will call again on Russia to de-escalate tensions and engage constructively in dialogue”.

2. The cost of Irish troops abroad

The Department of Defence spent almost €3 million in a five year period renting aircraft and on civilian flight tickets to ferry Irish troops to peacekeeping missions across the world, according to newly-revealed documents.

The chartering of the civilian aircraft, along with pilots and crew, was utilised to transport military personnel because the Irish Air Corps do not have the capability to transport large amounts of soldiers.

3. Another Boris Johnson allegation

There is to be an investigation into claims made by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani, alleging that she was sacked by Boris Johnson as a junior minister because of concerns about her “Muslimness”.

A No 10 spokeswoman said that when the allegations were first made, Boris Johnson had recommended that she make a formal complain to Conservative Campaign Headquarters. “She did not take up this offer,” the spokesperson said.

4. Domestic abuse increase

The number of criminal charges brought for alleged domestic abuse last year has increased by 13% to over 8,600, according to new figures from Gardaí.

New provisional figures released for 2021 show that Gardaí responded to over 48,400 domestic abuse incidents last year, which is a 10% increase on 2020. Between 8 December 2021 and 7 January 2022, Gardaí say that there were a total of 122 domestic abuse prosecutions commenced. 

5. Sexual assault in Sligo town

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses following “a number” of alleged sexual assaults that occurred near Sligo Town on Saturday. Gardaí are keen to speak with anyone who may have been in the Ballydoogan, Oakfield and Maugheraboy areas between 8pm and 10pm.

6. Diesel laundering

The cleanup cost for diesel laundering in Louth and Monaghan over the last four years has cost the State over €1 million, new figures show.

Diesel laundering is the process of washing out a green dye that is placed in rebated green fuel using a bleaching agent and leaves a residue within the fuel, which can solidify when heated in an engine and cause serious damage to the car.

7. Cleo Smith court case

A man on trial for abducting four-year-old Cleo Smith from a remote Australian campsite has confessed to her kidnapping, a surprise development in the case that garnered worldwide attention.

The little girl went missing from her families’ camping tent in October, and was found 18 days later alone inside a locked house in the coastal town of Carnarvon, a short drive from where she went missing.

8. Burglaries in the south

Five men have been arrested in Co Cork in connection with a number of burglaries in the south of the country. The operation, spearheaded by Tipperary and Limerick gardaí, targeted an organised crime group based in Tipperary.

9. Donnybrook incident

A man aged his 70s was seriously injured when he was hit by a car while cycling in Dublin yesterday morning. Gardaí are appealing for witnesses.