March 22: Today’s top stories in 60 seconds
Your speedy summary of today's must-read stories.
Primary schools to get €96 per pupil for ‘free’ schoolbooks
Primary schools are to receive almost €100 per pupil to buy schoolbooks and copybooks which they may purchase from any bookshop under guidance due to issue to schools later this week. It follows a Government announcement in Budget 2023 of a package of free schoolbooks for more than 500,000 primary school pupils from September 2023 at a cost of about €54 million. Informed sources say a funding package of €96 per student will be paid to schools to cover schoolbooks, workbooks and copybooks. Schools will also be advised not to seek voluntary contributions from parents for any book-related expenses on foot of the grants.
The Irish Times
Govt on course to win vote on ending eviction ban
The Government is on course to win a Dáil vote this afternoon on ending the no fault eviction ban, after reaching an agreement with members of the Regional Independent Group. Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien signaled in the Dáil last night that the Coalition Government will accept amendments to its counter motion. The group had indicated on Monday this was required to secure its support in the vote on the eviction ban. Galway East deputy Seán Canney published eight amendments he said the Government had to accept in order to secure the Regional Independent Group’s support for lifting the eviction ban. Mr O’Brien held talks with some of the group’s eight TDs yesterday morning, and then clarified in the Dáil last night that he would accept their various amendments on rental policy. RIG member Michael Lowry said yesterday evening that he was likely to vote in favour of the Government counter motion, and a number of his colleagues are expected to follow suit. However, RIG members like Cathal Berry, Matt Shanahan and Verona Murphy say they want further clarification from Minister O’Brien this morning, before making up their minds. Another RIG member Peter Fitzpatrick, the Independent deputy for Louth, told RTÉ News he would be voting against the Government’s position. Even if there is only partial support from the group for the Government’s counter motion, it will still be sufficient to guarantee the Coalition success.
Man arrested after death of a 37-year-old woman in a house fire in Co Armagh
A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a woman died in a house fire in Co Armagh in the early hours of yesterday morning. At around 2:15am on Tuesday, police received a report of a house fire in the Church Street area of Portadown PSNI officers and personnel from the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service attended to the fire, and a 37-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. A number of residents in the area were evacuated from their homes due to the fire. The PSNI launched a murder investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death and last night arrested a 25-year-old man. He’s been arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted murder, and arson with intent to endanger life. He’s been taken to Musgrave Serious Crime suite, where he remains in custody for further questioning.
Nursing home residents to keep all the income from renting out their property in major Fair Deal revamp
Nursing home residents will be able to keep all income raised from renting their family home under significant changes to the Fair Deal scheme. In response to the long-running housing crisis and the ending of the eviction ban, the Government has committed to “eliminate remaining barriers” for older people wanting to rent out their homes when they are in care. The pledge was made in a counter-motion to Sinn Féin’s private members’ motion seeking to extend the controversial eviction ban, which was debated in the Dáil last night. The move followed the Regional Independent Group (RIG) demand for an easing of rules surrounding contributions to the Nursing Home Support Scheme (NHSS), or Fair Deal as it is also known.
Boris Johnson set to vote against
Boris Johnson has said he will vote against Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal. The former Prime Minister, who had already voiced concerns about the deal brokered with Brussels, confirmed that he will not be backing the deal when MPs vote on the Stormont brake in the Commons later on Wednesday. In a statement, Mr Johnson said: “The proposed arrangements would mean either that Northern Ireland remained captured by the EU legal order – and was increasingly divergent from the rest of the UK – or they would mean that the whole of the UK was unable properly to diverge and take advantage of Brexit. “That is not acceptable. I will be voting against the proposed arrangements today. “Instead, the best course of action is to proceed with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, and make sure that we take back control.” With Labour backing the Windsor Framework agreement signed last month, the Government should win the Commons division comfortably, despite criticism from some hardline Tory Brexiteers.
The Independent UK
‘Extremely important’ discoveries in Kerry at risk from climate change
Archaeologists have made “very significant” discoveries on the Dingle peninsula that reveal more about Ireland’s ancient coastal networks. But experts believe those “extremely important” discoveries, at Doon Point near Ballyferriter in Co Kerry — and many others around the coasts of Ireland and Wales — are at risk of being lost. After six years of monitoring, Cherish, an EU-funded project, will deliver a series of snapshots on how our cultural heritage is being impacted and transformed by climate change. Its findings show extreme weather events, warmer winters, and hotter summers are threatening all aspects of our coasts.
The Irish Examiner
Putin: China plan could end war, but Ukraine and West not ready for peace
China’s peace plan for Ukraine could be used as a basis to end the war, Vladimir Putin has said. But Mr Putin said the plan could be put forward only when they are ready “in the West and Kyiv”. The Russian leader met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the conflict, and relations between the two countries. China’s plan, published last month, does not explicitly call for Russia to leave Ukraine. Listing 12 points, it calls for peace talks and respect for national sovereignty, without specific proposals. But Ukraine has insisted on Russia withdrawing from its territory as a condition for any talks – and there is no sign that Russia is ready to do that.
Trump wants to be handcuffed for court appearance in Stormy Daniels case, sources say
Donald Trump has told advisers that he wants to be handcuffed when he makes an appearance in court, if he is indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his role in paying hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels, multiple sources close to the former president have said. Trump has reasoned that since he would need to go to the courthouse and surrender himself to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot, sources said, he might as well turn everything into a “spectacle”. Trump’s increasing insistence that he wants to be handcuffed behind his back for a perp walk appears to come from various motivations, including that he wants to project defiance in the face of what he sees as an unfair prosecution and that it would galvanize his base for his 2024 presidential campaign.
Gwyneth Paltrow ski crash court case: US star ‘never said a word after hitting fellow skier and bolting’
Gwyneth Paltrow “slammed very hard” into a fellow skier, hitting him directly in the back, as he fell face down, lying “spread-eagled” in the snow, a US court has heard. The Hollywood actress, 50, has been accused of “dangerous” and “reckless” behaviour before “bolting” down the slope without saying a word, as she faces claims she seriously injured Terry Sanderson in a “hit-and-run” crash in 2016. The movie star, who is also a lifestyle influencer, allegedly skied “out of control” during a family holiday and hit the retired optometrist at Deer Valley Resort in Utah. He is suing her for $300,000 (£245,000). She rejects the claim, with her lawyer calling Mr Sanderson’s version of events “utter BS”.
Blustery this morning with sunny spells and well-scattered showers, the showers mainly affecting west Munster, Connacht and Ulster. During the afternoon the showers will become more widespread across the country, merging to longer spells of rain in places. Some of the showers will be heavy with hail and lightning possible. Top temperatures of 9 to 12 degrees in fresh and gusty south to southwest winds, strong on windward coasts with the potential for wave overtopping around high tide. Fresh and breezy overnight with clear spells and blustery showers, the showers most frequent across the western half of the country. Lowest temperatures of 3 to 7 degrees in a moderate to fresh southerly breeze.