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How far will Government go with reopening following Nphet recommendations?

Inside Politics: Ministers are keen to allow for a partial reopening that would still potentially involve Covid-19 certs and masks

Good morning,

When the last phase of reopening was announced, one Cabinet source remarked privately it was incredible to think that by the end of October the process of disbanding Nphet would have started.

The members of the State’s public health team were to go back to their main duties as the pandemic receded. There was a cautionary sense that thanks to our high vaccination uptake, much of the worst was behind us.

Far from being demobilised, Nphet members held a lengthy and extensive discussion yesterday. Chief medical officer Tony Holohan’s recommendations to Government filtered out late last night, and the order of the day was caution given the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.


The three party leaders met late in the evening to go over the recommendations and thrash out how they can be interpreted. Ministers are keen to allow for a partial reopening that would still potentially involve the use of Covid-19 certs and masks.

The Government has also been very keen to see a booster programme rolled out, and it now appears the National Immunisation Committee (Niac) has given the green light for this, specifically for those over the age of 60.

Cabinet is due to kick off at 9am so word of the final Government plan should begin to emerge towards lunch.

One to keep an eye on today will be the Government advice or plan in relation to antigen tests. There has been a growing clamour for these tests to be made more readily available and for Government to endorse some kind of plan around that. One source said it cannot be viewed as a “panacea” but that it should be a useful tool in the armoury.

Here's our lead story detailing the thinking in Government last night.

New and overdue laws for the gambling industry

It is a fact that never fails to amaze, but Ireland’s multibillion-euro gambling industry is governed by arcane laws, some of which stretch all the way back to the 1930s.

Many the Minister has promised action as the casinos and bookies moved from a physical premises to the phone in your back pocket.

Minister of State in the Department of Justice James Browne has been working away in the background since last year to oversee a lengthy piece of gambling legislation, and this morning it will come before Cabinet at last.

There are 142 heads in the Bill, but the big-ticket items involve the long-awaited establishment of a gambling regulator. Although the plan was to have this regulator in place by the end of this year, the role will only be advertised in the coming weeks so realistically it will be early next year before she or he is in situ.

The new laws will see free bets banned, and there will be no inducements or VIP treatment for certain gamblers.

The regulator will be given extensive powers to revoke or suspend gambling licences and will also be able to freeze accounts and block incoming payments to providers.

There was a feeling in the department that fines alone were not enough and that real enforcement powers were needed.

A social impact fund will also be set up that will place a levy on gambling companies, and this will fund addiction treatment.

A major part of the puzzle is the prevalence of gambling advertising throughout the media. It looks as though the regulator will have the power to devise a code detailing where and when such advertisements can appear.

There will also be updates at Cabinet on Ireland’s joint bid with the UK to host the 2030 World Cup and updates on the Cabinet plans to ban fur farming.

All the details can be found here.

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It’s Tuesday so Leaders’ Questions kick off at 2pm with contributions from Sinn Féin, the Social Democrats, People Before Profit Solidarity and the Regional Group.

Shortly after 3pm, Taoiseach’s Questions will be taken

At exactly 6.34pm Sinn Féin is back up with Private Members’ business and a motion on renters.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will take questions at 8.34pm, so expect plenty of news about the changed plan in relation to Covid-19 restrictions.

Topical Issues are up just after 10pm, and then the Dáil adjourns at 10.52pm.

Here is the full detailed schedule.


Proceedings kick off at 2.30pm with commencement matters before the order of business at 3.30pm.

One to watch will be statements on Sláintecare at 5pm with the Department of Health.

Private Members’ business is up at 6.45pm with a motion in relation to the River Basin Management Plan from Senators Róisín Garvey, Pauline O’Reilly and Vincent P.Martin.

The full schedule is here.


At 11am the joint committee on health will discuss the Breastcheck screening programme and improving outcomes with the National Cancer Control Programme. Representatives from the Health Service Executive will attend.

At the same time the Select Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment will meet to discuss the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill 2021, which aims to tackle white collar crime.

Also at the same time the Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science will hold a roundtable discussion on Leaving Certificate Reform.

At 3pm the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate will meet to discuss the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the COP26 with the Minister, Eamon Ryan.

At the same time the Joint Committee on Children will hold a session looking at the pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2021 to give adopted people access to their birth information.

The best of the rest is here.