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Passengers return to Dublin Airport as restrictions are eased

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At Dublin Airport early on Monday morning Martina Mincica was excited to fly home to see family in Italy for the first time in nine months.

Ms Mincica (39) and her wife Amanda O’Regan (41), living in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, had waited eagerly for restrictions to ease so they could fly to Verona on Monday, the “very first day” of non-essential international travel, said Ms Mincica.

It is anticipated that around 22,500 travellers will pass through Dublin Airport on Monday. It is a 50 per cent increase on the same day last week, but the numbers are a small fraction of the 116,163 passengers seen on July 19th, 2019.

Logistically, the trip has not been plain sailing for the Tipperary residents. Although they have long been double-jabbed, their European Union Digital Covid Certs have not yet materialised.

“We have our HSE card, but I am not sure they will take it. We decided to book the test to be safe,” she said. The cert is also required for indoor dining in Italy and for their return trip, so they will continue to hound the emergency Covid cert helpline, Ms O’Regan said.

Watching Italy’s fight against the pandemic from afar in Nenagh has been difficult, said Ms Mincica. The pain has also been personal, as her uncle died at Christmas.

“We got to see them all in October… But we couldn’t travel to go to the funeral. It was tough, but I think back then it was the right thing as it was very unsafe to go there,” she said.

There are no nerves about the flight itself. The masks are a comfort, said Ms O’Regan, and they would not be going if they were not inoculated.

Patrick and Catherine McGettigan, from Terenure with children Danny and Lucy prepare to depart for Portugal. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Patrick and Catherine McGettigan, from Terenure with children Danny and Lucy prepare to depart for Portugal. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The McGettigan family of four from Terenure, Dublin, were looking forward to their first holiday in two years in the Algarve. Youngest child Lucy, who will turn five in Portugal, does not remember ever going on holidays abroad, explained father Patrick McGettigan.

The two-week family holiday was booked for the summer of 2020, with rolling cancellations leading them, coincidentally, to July 19th.

“It was just lucky that the date fell on the day they were opening up, so we decided then we would go ahead of it,” said Catherine McGettigan.

There is apprehension for the “unknown” ahead of them on their travels and in Portugal.

“So far, so good. The airport doesn’t look as packed as I thought it would,” Ms McGettigan said.

Leaving his parents to worry about documentation, seven-year-old Danny has more important things on his mind: the “slides and things” at Slide & Splash waterpark, he said.

Dearbhla Lawlor, with her children Bobby and Donacha, prepares to depart at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Dearbhla Lawlor, with her children Bobby and Donacha, prepares to depart at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Dearbhla Lawler and her sons Bobby (15) and Donnacha (7) were travelling to Italy’s Lake Garda region to visit her 19-year-old daughter who has been working there since June.

All three were tested for the virus, even though Ms Lawler is fully-vaccinated: “Because it today is the first day you could travel, I wasn’t quite sure if the vaccine passport would work. I wanted to be doubly sure we would get on the plane,” she explained.

The guidelines have been “confusing”, she added, as information websites have said slightly different things.

“I checked numerous sites… trying to clarify exactly what documentation we needed to be ready and what we needed to return,” she said.

The trio hasn’t boarded a flight since 2019, making it the “longest time since we haven’t been away”, Ms Lawler added.

Liam O’Flaherty, from Sligo, arriving at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Liam O’Flaherty, from Sligo, arriving at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

One floor below, in Arrivals, Sligo man and diplomat Liam O’Flaherty was reuniting with family for the first time in six months.

He and his wife are both vaccinated and decided to wait until the 19th to travel to Ireland under the new rules: “We now don’t need to do the whole self-isolation, PCR test and the rest. It made it easier… It has been a long time since we have seen my family,” he said.

Living in Paris, the couple flew to Dublin from Leeds after spending some time with relatives there.

France has “kind of gone back to normality”, said Mr O’Flaherty, adding that he anticipates some more restrictions in Ireland.

“The general anxiety around it seems higher in Ireland,” he noted.

Mary Connolly, meeting her daughter Kaitlyn arriving from Virginia, at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Mary Connolly, meeting her daughter Kaitlyn arriving from Virginia, at Dublin Airport. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Over in Terminal 2, Mary Connolly greeted with a tight hug her daughter Kaitlyn Connolly, who had travelled from Newark, in the United States. Both living in Virginia, Rathfarnham-born Mary Connolly arrived last week, before restrictions eased, and has been isolating at her parents’ house until Monday morning.

“I was going to change my flight, but with the case numbers they couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t have to isolate… I thought I would just take a chance and go,” said Mary Connolly, who is staying until the end of August to “make up for lost time”.

The mother and daughter have not been to Ireland since New Year 2020: “It has just been amazing to see everyone,” said Mary Connolly.

“It has been a long 20 months… My parents are elderly; it is hard not seeing them,” she said.

This Irish trip is all about family, Mary Connolly added: “Honest to God, just to be together. When you don’t have it for so long it is amazing to get it back.”

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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