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Republic working hard to evacuate citizens from Afghanistan

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Irish officials are trying to “book space” on the military transports of other countries to ensure the evacuation of Irish citizens in Afghanistan.

It is hoped that the small number of Irish citizens who wish to leave the country will be able to do so in the coming days, but the evacuation and transport to Ireland of Afghan refugees is expected to take longer, with many expected to make their way out of the country through Pakistan.

Officials cited the chaos in Kabul, explaining the difficulty in getting a clear picture of what was happening on the ground there. However, they expressed confidence that the extraction of Irish citizens would happen relatively soon, and said they were in contact with other EU countries, the US and the UK in a bid to secure flights out of the beleaguered city.

All the Irish citizens continue to be in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs, though officials did not say if any were waiting inside the airport in Kabul. “There isn’t a single location where they are all waiting,” said one official.

US soldiers restored order at the airport on Monday, but it was unclear if Taliban fighters in Kabul were allowing people to make it to the airport from the city. It is understood that some of the Irish citizens are in other parts of Afghanistan. Some will “make their own way out”, said officials.

Afghan refugees

Military flights from the airport were reported to have recommenced earlier this morning after US troops cleared the runways of Afghans desperate to board flights. But Irish officials said the situation at the airport remained uncertain. Repatriating Irish citizens is priority for the Government while the transfer of up to 150 Afghan refugees is likely to be “a more drawn out process”, said an official.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been in touch with non-governmental organisations and in-country agencies to draw up the list of those approved for admission to Ireland. Earlier today, Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman told RTÉ: “We have a list of criteria focused on those working with vulnerable groups and human rights defenders.”

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Tiny one-room flat with BATH in the lounge and kitchen by the bed is up for rent at £1,000-a-month

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Tiny one-room flat with BATH in the lounge and kitchen just few feet away from the bed goes up for rent for £1,000-a-month in London

  • A cramped studio flat that is up for rent in south London is so small it has a bath located in the lounge
  • The property, that is in the ‘highly sought after’ Wimbledon area, has a bed only feet away from the kitchen
  • Renters will have to fork out over £1,000-a-month to live in the odd space, though bills are included

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A tiny studio flat has been mocked because it costs over £1,000-a-month to rent and the bath is located in the lounge.

While the bed is found only feet away from the kitchen area, with a giant telly on the wall.

The south London property is on the market to rent for an eye-watering amount considering its size.

The bath is right by the back door leading out to a small private area on a patio garden.

The listing states that it has been ‘designed to maximise the space available’ and adds that the bathroom has ‘been cleverly designed to be fully hidden from view’, but this appears just to be a shower curtain.

A compact studio flat in Wimbledon is charging more than £1,000 a month for the luxury of having a bath in the lounge (pictured)

A compact studio flat in Wimbledon is charging more than £1,000 a month for the luxury of having a bath in the lounge (pictured)

The property's bed is located just feet away from the 'Kitchenette area', which boasts a microwave and kettle

The property’s bed is located just feet away from the ‘Kitchenette area’, which boasts a microwave and kettle

The flat has a 'self contained pied-a-tierre' (pictured) with a small table and two chairs

The flat has a ‘self contained pied-a-tierre’ (pictured) with a small table and two chairs

The flat in upmarket Wimbledon Village will cost lodgers £1,150 per month – or £265 per week – to live in it.

Bills are included within the rental and there is a secure parking space available.

One home hunter fumed: ‘London cost of living is so disgusting that you pay £1,150 per month to rent a bath in a bed/kitchen as advertised on Rightmove today.

‘Living in a decent home is an essential and fundamental basic human right.

‘It shouldn’t be a privileged novelty.’

The letting agent said it would be ideal for someone to rent for the Wimbledon tennis tournament which starts next month.

The All England Tennis Club, where the grass championship is hosted, is just half a mile away.

A Twitter user bashed the listing, calling the price of the studio flat 'disgusting'

A Twitter user bashed the listing, calling the price of the studio flat ‘disgusting’

The listing says the flat is 'finished to an exceptional standard' and is available for short term rent

The listing says the flat is ‘finished to an exceptional standard’ and is available for short term rent

The toilet is found opposite to the bath and appears to have more than a curtain separating it from the lounge, unlike the bath

The toilet is found opposite to the bath and appears to have more than a curtain separating it from the lounge, unlike the bath

It is being let by CHK Mountford and advertised via Rightmove, the property listing reads: ‘Set on the ground floor of a wonderful detached private residence in the heart of Wimbledon Village is this self-contained pied a tierre.

‘The property has been immaculately refurbished to a very high standard and has been cleverly designed to maximise the space available.

‘To the front of the property is a small private patio.

‘The room is fully furnished and there is a small kitchenette area complete with sink, microwave and fridge.

‘There is a separate WC and a bath which has been cleverly designed to be fully hidden from view if required plus a generous storage cupboard/wardrobe.

‘One parking space is available and is set behind the properties private gates offering complete secure parking.

‘This property would be ideal for a working professional looking for a weekday base and who is looking for something which is centrally located and finished to a high standard.

‘All bills are included within the monthly rental.

‘Available on a short or long term basis, please note that for a short term rental the cost would be on a weekly basis.

‘And would be at a higher rental amount than for a long term tenancy – please contact the office directly for verification of the weekly rental.

‘The property is available for rental during Wimbledon Tennis event and is the perfect base for those wanting to be close to the site and have secure parking in addition.’

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Truss made ‘turnips in truck’ Brexit remark about Ireland, former diplomat says

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UK foreign secretary Liz Truss told a US audience three years ago that the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Ireland would only “affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks,” a former UK diplomat said.

Alexandra Hall Hall, a former Brexit counsellor at the UK embassy in the US, disclosed on Twitter on Tuesday night that Ms Truss made the remarks to a US audience three years ago.

The former career diplomat revealed in an article she wrote in a US academic journal last year that a UK government minister made the remarks but she did not identify the minister at the time.

Last night Ms Hall Hall retweeted a tweet by Ms Truss in which the foreign secretary said the UK government’s “first priority is to uphold the Belfast Agreement” – the 1998 deal that underpins the Northern Ireland peace process. Ms Truss shared a link to her House of Commons speech in which she set out plans to introduce legislation to override the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Retweeting the message, Ms Hall Hall said: “So pleased to see Liz Truss become a genuine expert on Irish matters. She was, after all, the minister who told a US audience three years ago that Brexit would not have any serious impact in Ireland . . . it would merely ‘affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks.’”

‘Under strain’

Ms Truss told the UK parliament that the protocol had put the Belfast Agreement “under strain” because of opposition by Unionist parties, citing this as a reason to plan to introduce new legislation in the coming weeks to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Ms Hall Hall wrote in the Texas National Security Review journal last year that during her time as a diplomat in Washington, DC that Boris Johnson’s government damagingly played down the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland’s peace process in statements intended for US audiences.

She resigned from her job in late 2019 because she said she was unwilling to “peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust,” she said in her resignation letter.

In her article last autumn, she described the “turnip” remarks – without naming Ms Truss at the time – as a “low point” of her time in Washington when the UK minister “openly and offensively” in front of a US audience dismissed the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Irish businesses.

Ms Truss, then the UK secretary of state for international trade, was visiting Washington at the time to meet the then US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, both members of US president Donald Trump’s administration, and other politicians.

In the academic article, she said he had become “increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves.”

She took issue in the article – entitled: “Should I stay or should I go? The dilemma of a conflicted civil service – with the UK government’s “use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options” with Brexit.

Ms Hall joined the UK foreign office in 1986 and served in various roles around the world, including in Bangkok, New Delhi and Bogota before serving as British ambassador in Georgia.

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Fancy building your own home? Five plots for sale and what you can do

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New planning rules could shake things up and allow communities to have more of a say in what is built in their area.

They include giving neighbours the chance to veto or back proposals for new housing nearby. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will allow ‘street votes’, with new developments being blocked if a two-thirds majority of residents do not agree to support them.

Difficulties in getting approval to build a new home – under the current or any proposed system – mean that sites with planning permission already granted are in high demand. We take a look at five around the country below – and what you could build there.

Fancy buying a plot of land to build your own home? (Scroll down for more detail about this plot for sale)

Fancy buying a plot of land to build your own home? (Scroll down for more detail about this plot for sale)

Housing Secretary Michael Gove believes giving people a say will create more backing for development, but critics claim the bill is a recipe for disaster, as it is likely to lead to more neighbours at war if people are given a veto.

In light of a potentially controversial planning environment ahead, building sites that already have planning permission granted are likely to be even more sought-after.

We take a look at five building plots for sale around the country, with asking prices ranging from £120,000 to £550,000.

Buyers should always do their own research ahead of buying a plot of land and consider using a planning consultant.

1. Building plot, £350k, Hasketon, Suffolk

This garden building plot in the village of Hasketon, Suffolk, has planning permission for a three-bed house and is being sold for £350,000

This garden building plot in the village of Hasketon, Suffolk, has planning permission for a three-bed house and is being sold for £350,000

The plot extends to 0.2 acres, and includes an existing period cottage that needs to be demolished as part of the planning consent

The plot extends to 0.2 acres, and includes an existing period cottage that needs to be demolished as part of the planning consent

This garden building plot is in the village of Hasketon, in Suffolk, and extends to 0.2 acres.

The existing period cottage has been unoccupied for a number of years, and has full planning permission to be demolished and replaced with a modern three-bedroom detached house.

The new 2,600 square feet two-storey family home will have far-reaching south and west facing views across the surrounding meadows towards the parish church.

The plot is being sold via Jackson-Stops estate agents with an asking price of £350,000.

2. Building plot, £225k, Willesborough

This plot of land in the village of Willesborough in Kent has full planning permission to build a  detached house and is being sold for £225,000

This plot of land in the village of Willesborough in Kent has full planning permission to build a  detached house and is being sold for £225,000

The new property will have three bedrooms, including a main bedroom with an en-suite bathroom

The new property will have three bedrooms, including a main bedroom with an en-suite bathroom

This plot of land in the village of Willesborough in Kent has full planning permission to build an architecturally striking detached bungalow.

The new property will have three bedrooms, including a main bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. The approved plans feature two adjoining single-storey pitched roof small barn type structures, with open plan living accomodation on one side and bedrooms on the other.

The finished building would be just shy of 1,500 square feet and the plot is being sold by Hobbs and Parker estate agents with an asking price of £225,000.

3. Building plot, Masbury, £550k

This building plot for sale in Masbury, Somerset, is on the south side of the Mendips and is being sold for £550,000

This building plot for sale in Masbury, Somerset, is on the south side of the Mendips and is being sold for £550,000

The site is south-facing and boasts far-reaching views of Glastonbury Tor, a hill near Glastonbury that is topped by the roofless St Michael's Tower

The site is south-facing and boasts far-reaching views of Glastonbury Tor, a hill near Glastonbury that is topped by the roofless St Michael’s Tower

The barn on the site has planning permission for a two-bedroom house to be built

The barn on the site has planning permission for a two-bedroom house to be built

This freehold building plot in Masbury, Somerset, on the south side of the Mendips boasts far-reaching views of Glastonbury Tor.

The barn on the site is south-facing and planning permission has been given for a two-bedroom house.

The site is being sold with an asking price of offers of more than £550,000 via Sandersons estate agents.

Mr Copley said: ‘This beautiful plot of land benefits from an idyllic rural location in Somerset, and is located right on the doorstep of the Mendips. 

‘The picturesque town of Shepton Mallet and the historic city of Wells are also a short distance away.’ 

4. Building plot, Crossgates, £120k

This building plot has planning permission for a four-bedroom detached property and costs £120,000

This building plot has planning permission for a four-bedroom detached property and costs £120,000

This building plot has planning permission for a four-bedroom detached property.

The plans for the dormer property include an open-plan kitchen and dining area, a bay-fronted living room, and a ground floor bedroom along with a bathroom.

The remaining three bedrooms are on the first floor, as well as another bathroom and a separate shower room.

There are no real-life photos of the undeveloped site in the listing. 

The site is in Crossgates, a village in North Yorkshire, and it has an asking price of £120,000. The land is being sold by CPH Property Services.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘This spacious plot in Scarborough would make the perfect place for a family looking to build a home that is ideally catered to their needs. Even better for prospective buyers, it already comes with planning permission for a three or four-bedroom detached dwelling.’ 

5. Building plot, Uddingston, £179k

The building plot in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, has planning consent for a new house and is for sale for £179,000

The building plot in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, has planning consent for a new house and is for sale for £179,000

This building plot is in Uddingston, a small town in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

It comes with planning consent for a large detached home with four bedrooms, include a main bedroom with a dressing room.

The plot is currently unserviced, but the services are nearby, according to the agents handling the sale. It is being sold by Residence estate agents for £179,000.

Finance available via Help to Build

Those looking to build their own home can  benefit from a £150million Government initiative called Help to Build.

This is where an individual homebuilder will be expected to put up a 5 per cent deposit, while the Government will loan 20 per cent of the build cost, with a 75 per cent mortgage making up the rest and a ceiling of £600,000.

It is a practical option for self-builders.

‘Building your own home isn’t a dream limited to the rich or the adventurous,’ says TV broadcaster Kevin McCloud on the National Custom & Self Build Association portal. ‘Anyone can do it and the rewards are fantastic. 

‘They usually make homes which are much greener and built to higher quality standards than the norm. Savings are typically a quarter to a half of the costs.’ 

You need to do your research as there are plenty of tips to learn that can make the journey smoother.

For example, submitting a pre-application so the planners can pick what they don’t like in your plans at an early stage will save disappointment later.

About 13,000 people build their own homes in Britain every year. It is hoped that number will increase to as many as 40,000 new homes a year with the introduction of Help To Build.

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