Five things you need to know today

Almost 8,000 banned motorists still driving; extra hospital beds to open; Ballaghaderreen to house refugees

1. Almost 8,000 multiple-ban drivers still behind wheel - RSA

There are almost 8,000 drivers on Ireland’s roads who have multiple concurrent disqualifications on their licences but continue to flout the law by driving.

That was the situation last August when research compiled by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) found that the licences of 7,651 drivers had multiple banning orders on them. The previous year, 1,767 disqualification notices were issued to drivers who were driving while banned.

2. Extra 60 beds to open in attempt to tackle trolley crisis


Some extra beds are being opened immediately as Minister for Health Simon Harris and the Health Service Executive (HSE) attempt to tackle the latest winter trolley crisis in hospital emergency departments.

An additional 60 beds are being made available immediately to 10 acute hospitals, with a further 63 coming onstream in the weeks ahead.

Other measures, such as a discharge lounge in Waterford Hospital, as well as identifying private hospitals that can take in public patients, such as in Kilkenny, Mullingar and Cork, were included in a list of measures from the HSE to tackle the crisis following a meeting with Mr Harris last night.

3. Ballaghaderreen to house 80 mostly Syrian refugees

Members of Roscommon County Council have been called to a special meeting of the council Friday morning after officials were informed on Thursday by the Department of Justice that 80 mostly Syrian refugees were to be housed in a former hotel in Ballaghaderreen.

Council members were informed by text message and email Thursday night that the Abbeyfield Hotel in Ballaghaderreen, which has been restored recently after a period of closure, has been selected to house 80 refugees of mostly Syrian origin currently resident in Italy and Greece.

The hotel is to be used as an emergency reception and orientation centre.

4. German media sympathetic to Irish Brexit fears

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told German media that the Irish people will never accept a hard post-Brexit Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

His remarks were part of a series of German newspaper and radio reports in recent days, highlighting particular Irish concerns raised by Britain’s EU departure.

The media reports explain to German audiences from an Irish perspective the economic fears and peace process risks should full Border checks return to what, in future, will be the EU’s outer western wall.

His interview with German media outlets is part of a recent publicity blitz by the Government and mirrors intense private diplomatic contacts between Dublin and Berlin.

5. OCI candidates get in position for election ahead of February egm

Several existing members of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) executive committee have already lined themselves up for re-election ahead of next month’s extraordinary general meeting (egm).

The closing date for nominations for all executive committee positions, including the role of president, is next Wednesday, January 11th.

The egm will formally bring to an end Pat Hickey’s tenure in that role, which he has held largely unchallenged since 1989, winning a record seventh four-year term in 2014. Hickey stepped aside in August pending the outcome of ticket-touting charges during the Rio Games, and confirmed last month that he has “repeatedly advised in the past year prior to the Rio Games 2016” that he would be “finishing his term of office after the Games” and that he “will not be a candidate for president at the forthcoming elections”

And finally: It is naive to say Ireland would never leave the EU

Noel Whelan writes that with Brexit meaning our main trading partners, the UK and US, will be outside the EU, there is no point denying that we may have to leave it.