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The 9 at 9: Saturday

Covid restrictions lifted, Russian missile test off the Irish coast and man faces jail over incident on Dublin to New York flight

Image: Shutterstock/Tatiana Bralnina


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

Covid restrictions lifted

1. Plans to wind down Covid-19 restrictions were confirmed by the Government yesterday, with most restrictions ending from 6am today.

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs are set for a full return today as capacity and time limits are lifted. Mask-wearing in certain situations will remain for the time being but that will also be kept under review.

But as Ireland begins to turn its back on the ‘new normal’ to which it has become so accustomed, in today’s lead story Rónán Duffy asks if people are ready for the old normal all over again?

What you need to know

2. After nearly two years of pandemic restrictions, many of these measures were lifted this morning.

Here’s what changed this morning:

  • Visiting rules will be scrapped and any number of households will be allowed to gather
  • Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will be allowed to operate normal trading times without Covid passes, masks for customers or social distancing
  • Crowd limits will be scrapped on indoor and outdoor events, including sports, concerts, etc

Russian missile test

3. Russian bombers and naval ships are set to test missiles off the coast of Ireland.

The Journal has learned that the Irish Government has received a warning of a major exercise by the Russian navy and air force in the Atlantic off the South West coast.

The missile test, or range practice as it is known in military terms, will take place in international waters off the coast of County Cork in the first week of February, Niall O’Connor reports.

The missiles are expected to be launched by ships and from aircraft although exact details are not known. The Irish Aviation Authority has confirmed that it is to reroute commercial flights and issue a warning.

Flight incident

4. An Irishman who refused to wear a face mask during a flight from Dublin to New York and exposed his rear end to a flight attendant faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of assault, the US Justice Department said on Friday.

Shane McInerney, 29 and from Galway, is alleged to have behaved this way on a Delta Airlines flight on 7 January.

He appeared before a judge in New York a week later and was charged with “intentionally assaulting and intimidating a member of a flight crew,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed yesterday.

It said the suspect repeatedly refused to wear a mask, threw a beverage can and hit a passenger in the head, and “pulled down his pants and underwear and mooned a flight attendant and passengers”.

Covid commemoration

5. Arts and culture groups will play a key role in Ireland’s commemorative event in remembrance of people who lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic, Arts Minister Catherine Martin has said.

A new public holiday was announced this week for Friday 18 March this year, with a national commemoration event taking place on Sunday 20 March.

The minister said she is engaging with her officials and the national cultural institutions to see what role arts and culture will play as we emerge from restrictions “including in the context of the day of remembrance in March”.

The day of remembrance and recognition will recognise the 9,000 people who have died with Covid as well as workers, volunteers and the general public for the efforts, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil this week.


6. The author and award-winning journalist Colm Keane has died aged 70. He died from cancer in Waterford, it has been confirmed.

Keane was born in Youghal in Cork, and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and Georgetown University, Washington DC.

He was the author of 29 books and wrote extensively on near-death experiences, as well as books on St Brigid and St Padre Pio.

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Workplace death

7. A Kildare meat processing factory has been fined €400,000 after being convicted in relation to the death of a worker who was hit by a forklift truck on a factory floor almost four years ago.

The fine was imposed on Kildare Chilling Company at Naas Circuit Criminal Court after the firm had pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of staff in the workplace under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

The offence arose from a prosecution by the Health and Safety Authority following the death of Alexandru Coceban (22) after he was struck by a forklift at the company’s factory in Kildare town on 15 February 2018.


8. The scream of a red fox can be one of the most horrifying things to hear in the evening, with it being so terrifying that it helped inspire the Irish legend of the banshee.

Their calls can usually be heard in winter months, throughout both rural and urban areas, and can almost be mistaken for the scream of a person. The question is, why are foxes screaming at this time of year?

According to Collie Ennis, zoology research associate at Trinity College’s School of Natural Sciences, the screams are both a mating call by female foxes and a territorial call by male foxes.


9. And finally, the weather.

Today will be dry for most areas and overall cloudy, according to Met Éireann. There may be occasional patches of drizzle, mainly in Connacht and Ulster.

A few locations will see some bright or sunny periods. Highest temperatures will range from seven to 10 degrees Celsius.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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