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Ireland on red alert as ‘extraordinary’ storm approaches

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Dublin and Cork airports have closed and much of Ireland’s infrastructure has ground to a halt as it hunkers down for what the Irish premier warns is “an extraordinary weather event”.

The highest red alert is in place and Taoiseach Leo Varakar has told people to “be back in their homes no later than 4pm” as the storm approaches.

“If you are out, please make sure you get home before then,” tweeted Mr Varadkar.

He said: “The risk to life and limb presented by severe weather conditions should not be underestimated.”

The Irish military is also on standby after Mr Varadakar “instructed all of the machinery of the state to work together to keep people safe”.

Sixty 4×4 vehicles and over 120 personnel have been sent out in the last 24 hours to help keep essential services going, said Ireland’s defence minister.

Dublin Airport has effectively been closed. Pic: DublinAirport
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Dublin Airport has closed and is unlikely to open until Saturday. Pic: DublinAirport

The red alert – from Ireland’s weather service – warns of persistent blizzards this evening, coupled with sub-zero temperatures and a fresh dump of snow.

It is set to be the country’s worst snow since 1982.

People walk past a frozen statue in Dublin
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People walk past a frozen statue in Dublin

All schools and colleges have also closed and the country is now largely cut off from air travel as Storm Emma blows in from the Atlantic.

Dublin and Cork airports have shut until at least tomorrow, and possibly Saturday.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair both suspended flights in and out of Dublin, with other airlines following suit from around 3pm on Thursday.

The airport, Europe’s 14th busiest, said: “We will have snow crews working today and tomorrow to continue to clear the runway, taxiways, aircraft parking stands and apron areas for our airline customers’ planned resumption of services on Saturday morning.”

Cork airport, in the southwest, also pulled the plug on flights, tweeting: “@CorkAirport is closed and normal operations are not expected to resume until Saturday morning next.”

Irish Rail said no services were expected to run on Friday and buses in Dublin have also stopped until Saturday.

  1. Snow covered gondolas near St. Mark's square in Venice lagoon
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    Snow covered gondolas near St Mark’s Square in Venice’s lagoon
  2. Snow covered gondola's on Canal Grande in Venice lagoon
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    More gondolas in Venice’s Grand Canal
  3. The Louvre Pyramid after overnight snowfall in Paris
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    The Louvre Pyramid after overnight snowfall in Paris
  4. Vineyards in Meounes-les-Montrieux, southern France
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    Vineyards in Meounes-les-Montrieux, southern France
  5. A woman removes the snow from her car in Saint-Chaffrey, France
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    A woman removes the snow from her car in Saint-Chaffrey, France
  6. A tramway blocked by snow in Montpellier, southern France
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    A tramway blocked by snow in Montpellier, southern France
  7. The Place de la Comedy in Montpellier in the south of France
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    The Place de la Comedy in Montpellier in southwest France
  8. Passengers walk out a TGV train blocked by snow in Montpellier in the south of France
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    Passengers walk out a TGV train blocked by snow in Montpellier
  9. A snow-covered sidewalk in front of Sforzesco Castle in Milan
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    A snow-covered pavement in front of Sforzesco Castle in Milan, Italy
  10. A dog jumps off a wooden fence in Sempione garden after snowfall in Milan, Italy
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    A dog jumps over a wooden fence in Sempione garden after snowfall in Milan
  11. A snow plough clears the road in Soerum, north of Oslo, Norway
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    A snow plough clears the road in Soerum, north of Oslo, Norway
  12. A snow-covered road in northern Germany.
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    A snow-covered road in northern Germany
  13. The snow-covered Sechselaeutenplatz square in Zurich, Switzerland
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    Sechselaeutenplatz square in Zurich, Switzerland
  14. Traffic stacks up on the snow-covered A3 motorway near Zurich, Switzerland
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    Traffic stacks up on the A3 motorway near Zurich, Switzerland
  15. A mailwoman of Swiss mail operator Schweizerische Post rides her electro-powered trike on a snow-covered street in Zurich, Switzerland
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    A postwoman working for Swiss mail operator Schweizerische Post rides her electric-powered tricycle in Zurich, Switzerland
  16. A woman walks past snow covered benches in a park in Lausanne, Switzerland
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    A woman walks past park benches in Lausanne, Switzerland
  17. A snow plough removes snow next to Air France aircraft during a temporary closure at Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland
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    A snow plough clears a taxiway next to an Air France aircraft during a temporary closure of Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland

Sky’s Darren McCaffrey tweeted pictures of the centre of the capital on Thursday afternoon, showing it virtually deserted as people heeded the warning to stay indoors.

The red alert comes as parts of the UK face their own severe weather warning, with Storm Emma combining with the freezing Siberian blast that has swept across much of Europe.



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UEFA abolishes away goals rule after more than half a century | UK News

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Europe’s football governing body UEFA has abolished the away goals rule for all of its club competitions from next season.

All ties that are level on aggregate at the end of the second leg will now go to extra time.

Paris Saint-Germain’s victory over Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals will go down in history as the last away goals result in the tournament before the rule change.

The rule, introduced in 1965, has led to some dramatic moments in recent years, including Tottenham’s stoppage-time success over Ajax in the 2019 Champions League semi-final.

UEFA said away goals would also no longer be a separating criteria when looking at matches between two or more sides level on points in the group stage of a competition.

Paris St Germain's victory over Bayern Munich in last year's Champions League will go down as the last win on away goals
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Paris Saint-Germain’s victory over Bayern Munich in last year’s Champions League will go down as the last win on away goals in the tournament

However, the number of away goals scored in all group matches could be used as an additional separating criteria if required.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said as the end of the rule was announced: “The away goals rule has been an intrinsic part of UEFA competitions since it was introduced in 1965.

“However, the question of its abolition has been debated at various UEFA meetings over the last few years. Although there was no unanimity of views, many coaches, fans and other football stakeholders have questioned its fairness and have expressed a preference for the rule to be abolished.”

Mr Ceferin added that the away goals rule had begun to go against its original purpose and was dissuading home teams from attacking.

This because the sides would fear conceding a goal at their own stadium would give their opponent a crucial advantage.

He continued: “There is also criticism of the unfairness, especially in extra-time, of obliging the home team to score twice when the away team has scored.

“It is fair to say that home advantage is nowadays no longer as significant as it once was.”

UEFA has cited statistics since the mid-1970s which showed how the gap between home and away wins had reduced.

It talked about better pitch quality, standardised pitch sizes, and even video assistance referees (VAR) as factors in the decline of home advantage.



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EE brings back EU roaming charges for mobile phone customers from next year | Business News

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Mobile network EE is to charge customers for using their phone in Europe from next year.

The company, owned by BT, had previously said it had no plans to reintroduce the charges after Brexit.

It will affect new customers and those upgrading from 7 July.

An EE phone store on Oxford Street, central London. 29/5/2018
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EE said it change would support investment in its UK network

They will face a £2 daily fee from January next year to be able to use their data, call minutes and text allowances in 47 European destinations.

The change will not apply to customers travelling to the Republic of Ireland.

British travellers have not had to pay roaming charges on their mobile phone bills since June 2017, when they were abolished after changes to European regulation.

Before then they added an estimated £350m a year to users’ bills.

Britain’s departure from the European Union meant that from January UK customers no longer had the right to use their phone in Europe without roaming charges.

However, Britain’s major mobile operators had said they had no plans to introduce them.

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December 2020: What’s in the Brexit trade deal?

EE said its decision was designed to “support investment into our UK-based customer service and leading UK network”.

It said customers travelling abroad for longer will be able to use a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass.

Ernest Doku, a mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said: “It’s hugely disappointing for consumers to see that situation change so quickly.

“If you’re an existing EE customer, these charges won’t affect you yet, but make sure you check the small print if you’re due an upgrade in the coming months.”

Sky News contacted other networks to ask if they had any similar plans.

O2 and Three said they had not made any changes to roaming.

However, both are altering their policies on “fair usage” daily data limits while in the EU – though in each case said the limits were more than enough for the vast majority of holidaymakers’ needs.

Vodafone also said it had no plans to bring back roaming charges.

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HMS Defender: Boris Johnson insists warship was sailing legally as Moscow warns ‘no options can be ruled out’ | UK News

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Boris Johnson has insisted Royal Navy warship HMS Defender was sailing legally in Ukrainian waters and that Russia did not any fire warning shots.

Russia has accused the UK of “barefaced lies” over Wednesday’s incident and said it would respond robustly to any future incursions into what it says are Russian waters.

It summoned the British ambassador in Moscow for a dressing down, while a Kremlin spokesman called it a “deliberate and premeditated provocation”.

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Russia claims this is HMS Defender ‘chased out’

“In the event of a repeat of unacceptable provocative action – if those actions go too far, no options can be ruled out in terms of legally defending Russia’s borders,” added Dmitry Peskov.

The UK rejects Russia’s claim that a border patrol boat fired warning shots and that warplanes dropped bombs into path of the ship off the Crimean coast.

Speaking on Thursday, Boris Johnson said it was “not my information” when asked if the Russians had fired warning shots.

“My understanding is that the Carrier Strike Group proceeded in a way you would expect through international waters and in accordance with the law,” said the prime minister.

He added: “We don’t recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea – it was illegal. These are Ukrainian waters and it was entirely right to use them to get from A to B.”

HMS Defender
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HMS Defender’s main wartime function is to destroy enemy planes and drones

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has also said shots were not fired and called the Russian account “predictably inaccurate”.

The Ministry of Defence said it had been made aware in advance that the Russians were conducting “gunnery exercises” in the area.

“No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path,” it said.

Sukhoi Su-24M bombers pictured over Moscow in May 2019
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Russia said Su-24M jets – pictured in May 2019 – dropped bombs in the ship’s path

However, a BBC journalist on board the 152 metre-long ship said Russian planes had flown nearby and he also heard radio warnings that shots would be fired if HMS Defender didn’t change course .

He said firing was later heard but “well out of range”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Britain of “barefaced lies” over the incident.

Russia claims the British ship had gone as far as three kilometres (2 miles) into Russian waters near Cape Fiolent, near the port of Sevastopol in Crimea.

Crimea was seized from Ukraine in 2014 by the Russians, who claim ownership of waters around its coast.

A map showing the route of HMS Defender
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The route of HMS Defender

Western countries regard Crimea to have been taken illegally.

Mr Johnson also rejected the assertion that the relationship with Russia was now at a new low, following other recent incidents such as the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in the UK in 2018.

“I can remember times in my own lifetime when things have been far worse,” the prime minister said.

Sky’s Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay said the incident was to a large extent about “testing each other’s mettle” and seeing “how far Russia is prepared to go to defend what it claims are its territorial waters – and how far the UK and NATO are prepared to go to defend Ukrainian sovereignty”.

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