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HSE examines extent to which patient records were compromised in cyberattack

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) is currently examining to what extent patients’ medical records are among data that has been “compromised,” as a result of the major cyberattack, which has curtailed many hospital services.

Paul Reid, HSE chief executive, said officials were currently trying to determine “what level of data may have been compromised” in the ransomware attack.

The standard approach from criminal groups behind such cyberattacks was an “double extortion” attempt, to both withhold the hacked data, and also threaten to publish it online, unless a ransom was paid.

Mr Reid said the HSE was confident it had secure back-ups of all the affected data from its IT systems, allowing it to “rebuild” the infrastructure.

Work was currently looking at what systems could be brought back online, “in a safe manner one by one,” he told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon show.

The cyberattack had been “very significant and sophisticated,” and was being dealt with by the highest level of the intelligence forces of the State, Mr Reid said.

There had been cases where organisations had paid ransoms to cyber criminals, and the data had not been returned, he said.

While the referral system for Covid-19 tests via GPs was down, people with symptoms could attend any testing centres across the country, and no longer needed a prior referral, Mr Reid said.

Close contacts of positive cases, who previously received a text, would now receive a phone call from contact tracing teams, he said.

The vaccination programme was continuing “at pace”, despite the cyberattack, and remained on target to administer more than 250,000 doses by the end of this week.

People in their 40s would hopefully be able to book their vaccine appointment by the end of next week as well, Mr Reid said.

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Ossian Smyth had a briefing on the cyberattack from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on Saturday morning.

The Department of Communications said the NCSC was committing its “full resources” to respond to the hack, and was in contact with international partners and private contractors.

“This work will continue throughout the weekend with the focus on supporting the HSE’s recovery process in order to minimise disruption to services,” the department said.

The cyber security centre has also issued advice to other State operators of essential services to guard against any repeat attacks.

Effects

The health service will likely be impacted by the effects of the attack for the next week, as a senior Health Service Executive (HSE) official has said hospital IT systems are “some way off” being restored.

Dr Clare Faul, director of St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network, said the cyberattack was having “a significant and ongoing impact” on services.

The IT shut down had led to radiation treatment centres ceasing services in St Luke’s, Beaumont and St James’s Hospital.

“We initiated a plan to treat all urgent patients in the private sector, which commenced on Friday and is continuing . . . We are doing everything possible to get our systems ready to treat patients with radiation again next week,” she said.

Anne O’Connor, HSE chief operations officer, on Saturday said it was in the “early stages” of rebooting some of the foundational technology, but were “some way off” having the main systems back up and running.

At present it would be at least several days before health service and hospital IT systems returned to normal, she said.

“We are definitely working on several days at the minute, and that’s if it goes well. The system at a wider level will be impacted we believe for this week,” she told RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor Show.

“Yesterday a decision was taken to shut down all of the systems, really to protect the whole infrastructure, as of now there’s been a lot of work overnight,” she said.

“We have been working since early yesterday morning to determine first of all the impact of this attack across the board, and to see what systems are working,” she said.

On Friday, the HSE said it would not be paying the ransom demanded by the cyber criminals behind the attack, who are believed to be a criminal gang operating in another country.

It is understood the exact amount being sought in the ransom is not clear, according to one senior official.

Procedures

Several hospitals moved to cancel outpatient appointments and elective procedures in the wake of the cyberattack.

One major problem was the lack of diagnostics and access to previous test results, while the systems remained down, Ms O’Connor said.

“A really big problem here relates to diagnostics, so our whole imaging system has been affected by this . . . We have no access to previous scans, no access to previous blood results,” she said.

Hospitals had returned to pen and paper for processing results from bloods and other lab tests. “We’ve gone right back to years ago, we’ve got literally runners in the hospital bringing pieces of paper around with results,” said Ms O’Connor.

There were “different scenarios in different parts of the country,” with some hospitals more affected than others, she said.

Some voluntary hospitals were not hit as hard as a result of the HSE shutting down its IT systems, while other hospitals had been forced to cancel most outpatient appointments.

“The important thing for us is to not cancel things if we don’t need to . . . We are prioritising urgent and time-dependent work,” said Ms O’Connor.

The HSE’s online system for booking Covid-19 vaccine appointments had been restored on Saturday, meanwhile the administration of vaccinations was largely unaffected by the cyberattack.

While some appointments, such as chemotherapy and dialysis services would continue, there were widespread cancellations of others such as x-ray appointments and radiology services.

The HSE has warned delays should be expected as hospitals attempted to move to offline manual processes.

Health officials were unsure if a tech issue in Beaumont Hospital identified on Thursday was also connected to the ransomware attack.

Members of the public have been advised by the HSE that updates about changes to appointments and services will be published on its website.


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Detached homes see average values up £60k during the pandemic says Halifax

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The pandemic property boom has been driven by a surge in demand for larger homes, new research has revealed.

The average value of a detached home in Britain has risen at almost twice the rate for flats, according to the data from Halifax and IHS Markit.

Buyers can expect to pay on average £425,177 for a detached property, which is an increase of £60,556 or 17 per cent since March 2020.

Buyers can expect to pay on average £425,177 for a detached property, which is an increase of £60,556 or 17 per cent since the March 2020

Buyers can expect to pay on average £425,177 for a detached property, which is an increase of £60,556 or 17 per cent since the March 2020

It compares to an increase of around 9 per cent for a typical flat during the same period, where values have risen on average £13,325 to an average of £158,992.

At the same time, the average price of a terrace property has risen 15 per cent or £27,715 to £213,798, while semi-detached also rose 15 per cent or £36,841 to £280,090.

HOUSE PRICES BY PROPERTY TYPE
All Houses All Buyers UK Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 15.40% 9.10% 14.90% 15.10% 16.60%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £33,820 £13,325 £27,715 £36,841 £60,556
Average price Dec 2021 £276,091 £158,992 £213,798 £280,090 £425,177
Source: Halifax/IHS Markit        

The data also highlighted the widening of the gaps between each type of home, with flat owners expected to spend an extra £54,806 to upsize to a typical terrace house, compared to £40,416 in March 2020.

At the same time, those currently in a terrace would need a further £66,292 to own a semi-detached home, compared to £57,166 in March 2020.

Meanwhile, home movers hoping to switch from a semi-detached to a detached property need an additional £145,087, compared to £121,371 in March 2020.

REGIONAL HOUSE PRICE CHANGES BY TYPE
% Change (since Mar ’20) All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
East of England 13.00% 7.40% 14.20% 14.80% 14.30%
Northern Ireland 14.30% -2.40% 15.20% 16.70% 13.40%
South West 18.40% 10.90% 19.00% 19.50% 20.20%
London 6.40% 0.70% 6.80% 7.60% 12.40%
Scotland 12.10% 9.60% 14.20% 13.70% 16.30%
West Midlands 14.60% 7.10% 12.60% 15.50% 17.40%
East Midlands 15.50% 12.10% 16.50% 17.50% 19.00%
North West 18.20% 13.40% 18.80% 17.00% 21.90%
Wales 21.90% 11.70% 25.10% 21.20% 24.40%
North East 14.40% 14.30% 19.80% 11.80% 15.50%
South East 13.10% 7.40% 13.70% 13.80% 15.40%
Yorkshire 16.50% 4.30% 15.40% 17.00% 18.30%
Source:  Halifax/IHS Markit        

Wales and the North West saw the greatest increase in detached home prices, up 24.4 per cent and 21.9 per cent respectively.

The most expensive detached homes are in London, at an average £910,568. The 12.4 per cent increase is almost double the average of all property types in the capital.

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: ‘Record numbers of moves have been taking place throughout the pandemic, with the demand for detached homes now greater than for any other property type, meaning the competition for those looking to buy an often larger property is fierce.

‘As employers began to crystalise longer-term plans for home and hybrid working, buyers have been able to consider homes further afield as the need to commute falls away, with properties previously considered too remote now giving families extras like garden rooms and home offices.

This trend means Wales, with its beautiful countryside and lower relative property prices, saw the strongest growth in detached homes over the past two years.’

REGIONAL HOUSE PRICES BY PROPERTY TYPE DURING THE PANDEMIC
East of England All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 13.00% 7.40% 14.20% 14.80% 14.30%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £36,767 £13,340 £34,669 £45,351 £63,141
Average Price Dec 2021 £319,447 £192,721 £279,087 £352,699 £505,379
Northern Ireland All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 14.30% -2.40% 15.20% 16.70% 13.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £21,448 -£2,327 £14,027 £22,012 £25,600
Average Price Dec 2021 £170,946 £94,922 £106,105 £153,917 £217,226
South West All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 18.40% 10.90% 19.00% 19.50% 20.20%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £44,773 £17,038 £38,716 £49,973 £76,380
Average Price Dec 2021 £287,774 £173,502 £242,285 £306,171 £454,133
London All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 6.40% 0.70% 6.80% 7.60% 12.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £31,724 £2,657 £33,159 £44,891 £100,525
Average Price Dec 2021 £525,351 £371,744 £520,359 £635,422 £910,568
Scotland All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 12.10% 9.60% 14.20% 13.70% 16.30%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £20,795 £9,789 £18,433 £23,357 £39,783
Average Price Dec 2021 £192,988 £112,075 £148,224 £193,975 £283,214
West Mids All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 14.60% 7.10% 12.60% 15.50% 17.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £29,778 £8,625 £20,532 £33,265 £57,685
Average Price Dec 2021 £234,263 £129,851 £184,061 £247,881 £389,553
East Midlands All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 15.50% 12.10% 16.50% 17.50% 19.00%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £30,275 £13,536 £24,346 £33,919 £57,186
Average Price Dec 2021 £225,106 £125,563 £171,686 £227,336 £358,441
North West All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 18.20% 13.40% 18.80% 17.00% 21.90%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £32,591 £14,070 £24,426 £31,917 £63,229
Average Price Dec 2021 £211,954 £118,979 £154,308 £219,294 £351,887
Wales All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 21.90% 11.70% 25.10% 21.20% 24.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £36,917 £11,570 £30,111 £34,639 £62,688
Average Price Dec 2021 £205,579 £110,318 £149,966 £197,768 £319,492
North East All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 14.40% 14.30% 19.80% 11.80% 15.50%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £20,162 £11,527 £20,071 £17,666 £37,373
Average Price Dec 2021 £159,694 £92,214 £121,187 £166,876 £278,863
South East All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 13.10% 7.40% 13.70% 13.80% 15.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £43,298 £15,502 £38,704 £49,203 £78,220
Average Price Dec 2021 £374,454 £223,610 £320,944 £404,648 £586,781
Yorkshire All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 16.50% 4.30% 15.40% 17.00% 18.30%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £27,192 £4,708 £19,442 £29,624 £50,192
Average Price Dec 2021 £192,210 £114,535 £146,081 £203,805 £324,581
Source: Halifax/IHS Markit         

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said: ’Soaring demand for detached homes is not surprising as we are seeing buyers prepared to stretch themselves to purchase properties which they regard as for the longer term, rather than settling for smaller houses or flats. 

These buyers are often using money saved during lockdown by not going on holiday or other spending, to contribute towards their deposit. They are also taking advantage of continuing low interest rates even though the threat of higher repayments and inflation is looming.

‘Detached homes have long been the pinnacle in terms of what people aim for when buying property. They are popular because they offer flexibility, privacy, control and independence, which isn’t always the case with semi-detached or terraced properties where there is an element of shared space or boundaries, increasing the risk of conflict.

‘Price growth has been strongest in Wales because often affordability is greater in those markets in the first place. We have noticed the drift from the centre of towns and cities to the suburbs, country and coastal areas as people get more accustomed to hybrid working and not having to spend as much time in the centre. They are looking for higher-quality outside space and the ability to work comfortably from home.’

Separate research by Coutts found that demand has also been high for luxury leafy lodgings in the capital.

It said that sales for super prime homes worth £10million or more jumped from 56 in 2020 to 106 in 2021.

Peter Flavel, of Coutts, said: ‘For many investors these prime and super prime properties provide the opportunity to put funds into assets that offer the space they need as hybrid living continues to influence lifestyle choices.’

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Lisa Smith travelled to Turkey to study under Isis propagandist, court told

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Lisa Smith, a former Defence Forces member who denies membership of Islamic State (Isis), travelled to Turkey to become a student of a famous Islamic convert who wrote Isis propaganda, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for Ms Smith, read out a message exchange in 2013 between his client and an American Islamic scholar John Georgelas, who was living in Egypt at the time.

Counsel said Mr Georgelas asked Ms Smith to travel to Egypt to study under him and said he would pay her to help his wife, Tania Joya, take care of their children.

Ms Smith replied: “I wouldn’t dream of accepting any money for looking after your children. If I can get the benefit of your knowledge as your student that would be more than enough payment for me.”

Mr Georgelas left Egypt with Ms Joya and arranged to meet Ms Smith in Turkey.

Ms Joya, giving evidence for a second day, told Mr O’Higgins that her husband was clever and manipulative and in 2013 was communicating with Ms Smith every day over the internet.

She said he was a respected scholar who could “overwhelm” people with his knowledge of scripture. She told Sean Gillane SC, for the prosecution, that Georgelas wrote for magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah that publish Isis propaganda

Ms Smith (39), from Dundalk, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, Islamic State, between October 28th, 2015 and December 1st, 2019. She has also pleaded not guilty to financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6th, 2015.

Her trial is continuing in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Cormac Dunne at the three-judge, non-jury court.

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Rioja Estates and TORG International partner for two outlet village projects

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TORG International has partnered with leading UK outlet developer Rioja Estates for the development of two new outlets in Sweden and the UK, Malmo Designer Village and Grantham Designer Outlet Village. Both schemes have already secured planning consent, with Grantham being under construction with the opening scheduled for Autumn 2023. The Malmo outlet is expected to open in Summer 2025.

 

Conveniently located in close proximity to the Danish border, Malmo Designer Village benefits from a significant catchment area. The scheme is expected to rank in the top 25% of outlet centres in Europe in terms of traffic and is predicted to generate above-average sales density.

 

Grantham Designer Outlet Village is located on the country’s third most travelled motorway, the A1 connecting London with Northern England, and is projected to attract 3.5 million visitors annually. A lack of retail competition in the immediate area means that Grantham Designer Outlet Village will achieve significantly greater penetration of its catchment than the UK outlet industry average of 3%, namely for Phase One 7.7% and for Phase Two 8.5%.

 

Says Robert van den Heuvel, Partner Development & Leasing TORG International: “It was at Mapic 2021 that we established this new collaboration with Giles Membrey and his team at Rioja Estates, whom we have known for many years. We were impressed by the quality of their two latest developments in Sweden and the UK and are therefore delighted to be able to share our enthusiasm with the tenant community and industry at large.“

 

Adds Barbara Horatz, Partner Marketing & Retail TORG International: “We feel that both developments meet all the key criteria for a successful future outlet – the strategic location on a major motorway axis, important catchment, strong tourism potential, significant size, qualitative and sustainable architecture. There are not many strategic spots left in Europe for outlet developments and we definitely consider Malmo and Grantham as two of them.”

 

Concludes Giles Membrey: “We see Malmo and Grantham as the beginning of a great collaboration for our two companies –  there are many more opportunities for joint outlet developments that we see ahead of us and that we are already discussing, be it in Europe or in any of the other major markets globally.”

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