Cocaine disguised as charcoal with a potential street value of up to 35 million euros ($41.4 million) has been seized in a joint operation between Irish and Dutch authorities. The drugs were found inside two shipping containers from South America that arrived at the port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, as part of what Irish investigators believe was an attempt to import up to half a ton of cocaine to Ireland.
An Irish subsidiary of Microsoft made a profit of $315bn (£222bn) last year but paid no corporation tax, as it is “resident” for tax purposes in Bermuda. The company, Microsoft Round Island One, posted profits last year equal to nearly three-quarters of Ireland’s entire gross domestic product (GDP) – despite having zero employees. Its profits jumped from just under $10bn the previous year and compare with Ireland’s 2020 GDP of €357bn ($437bn).
Ireland’s state health services provider has shut all its IT systems and canceled some medical appointments after what it described as a “significant ransomware attack” overnight caused widespread disruption. The attack has affected national and local systems that provide core services, but not Covid-19 vaccinations or ambulance services. Several hospitals canceled outpatient visits or urged patients with appointments not to attend.
Parts of Northern Ireland saw their sixth consecutive night of violence Wednesday as unionists and nationalists clashed with police and each other. Unrest first broke out last week amid rising tensions relating to Brexit and unionist anger over a decision by police not to prosecute leaders of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein for allegedly breaking coronavirus restrictions during the funeral of a former leading IRA figure.
Some 9,000 children died in Ireland’s church-run homes for unwed mothers, a government report published on Tuesday found. This is equivalent to 15 percent of all children who were born or lived in the 18 institutions investigated over nearly 80 years. The nearly 3,000-page report describes the emotional and even physical abuse some of the 56,000 unmarried mothers — from farmhands to domestic servants — were subjected to in the so-called mother-and-baby homes.
The Irish government apologized on Wednesday following an inquiry into the falsifying of birth certificates to show that adoptive parents were birth parents, a scandal that affected at least 126 children now in their 50s and above. Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar called the disclosure ‘another chapter from the very dark history of our country.’
Sinn Féin will try to form a government in Ireland after apparently winning more votes than any other party in Saturday’s general election – a historic result that upended the political system. Sinn Féin, once a pariah for its IRA links, won almost a quarter of first-preference votes, possibly pipping Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, two centrist rivals that have taken turns ruling Ireland for a century.
Ireland voted decisively to end their abortion ban on Saturday, highlighting the liberal shift in the country. The ‘yes’ vote repealed the 1983 Eighth Amendment of the Constitution which gave equal rights to a fetus and woman and banned abortion under most circumstances. The referendum vote on Friday saw a record 65% turnout.
Irish voters from around the world are returning home to cast their ballot on whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment which effectively outlaws abortion by giving the mother and unborn child equal rights. Friday’s decision could be a major milestone in Ireland’s history of abortion with a global impact on the abortion debate.
Ireland will return to the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from midnight on Wednesday – with the prime minister suggesting the country will be able to celebrate Christmas “in a meaningful way” if the new lockdown is taken seriously. Micheal Martin warned that the evidence of a potentially grave situation in the weeks ahead is now “too strong” to ignore.