It comes as a decision on travel restrictions is due later this month.
Eta Aquariids set to dazzle night sky with up to 50 meteors per hour
The best time to see the meteors is later this week
Skygazers can look forward to seeing several shooting stars on Wednesday night, as the Earth passes through the dust left over from Halley’s Comet.
The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is expected to peak on Wednesday night with up to 50 meteors per hour, and will be visible until early Thursday morning.
This celestial display is associated with the Halley’s Comet, officially designated 1P/Halley, which orbits the sun once every 76 years.
Anna Ross, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich says “As both the Earth and Halley’s Comet have elliptical orbits around the Sun, these two intersect twice per year.
“This causes not only the Eta Aquariids but also the Orionids meteor shower in October.”
The Eta Aquariids takes its name from the constellation of Aquarius in the southern hemisphere, where the shooting stars appear to originate from.
Meteoroids from Halley’s Comet strike the Earth’s atmosphere at an approximate speed of 150,000 miles per hour, burning up in the process.
Published: 03/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Queen sends ‘warmest good wishes’ for NI centenary
The Queen has sent her “warmest good wishes” to the people of Northern Ireland on the date which many consider to be its centenary.
She referred to “treasured” memories she shared in Northern Ireland with her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and paid tribute to its people.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also marked the date, describing it as a “very significant national anniversary, marking the 100th year since the Government of Ireland Act came into effect and the formation of the United Kingdom as we know it today”.
In a statement, the Queen paid tribute to the people of Northern Ireland.
“This anniversary reminds us of our complex history, and provides an opportunity to reflect on our togetherness and our diversity,” the monarch said.
“It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment.
“During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions.”
The Queen also paid tribute to the Republic of Ireland, recalling her historic visit there 10 years ago.
“I also wish to recognise the important contribution made by our friends and closest neighbours towards the success of Northern Ireland,” she said.
“I look back with fondness on the visit Prince Philip and I paid to Ireland, ten years ago this month. I treasure my many memories, and the spirit of goodwill I saw at first hand.”
The Queen urged inclusion and hope for the future.
“Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process. May this be our guiding thread in the coming years,” she said.
“I send my warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland. Elizabeth R.”
Mr Johnson acknowledged “differing perspectives” on the centenary.
“It is also important that we pause to reflect on the complex history of the last 100 years. People from all parts of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and across the globe, will approach this anniversary in different ways, with differing perspectives,” he said.
“While this is a moment of shared reflection, it is also an important opportunity to come together to celebrate Northern Ireland and build towards a better and even brighter future for all its people.”
The day that many consider to be the date the state of Northern Ireland was created will be quietly marked on Monday.
Much like the day that Northern Ireland was founded 100 years ago, there will be no huge celebrations or grand ceremonies.
Very few people who were alive to witness the birthdate of Northern Ireland were aware it was a particularly significant day.
Northern Ireland was created on May 3 1921 when the Government of Ireland Act came into effect and partitioned the island of Ireland into two separate entities.
But the exact date of when Northern Ireland was created has divided opinion.
The effect of the Government of Ireland Act split the 32 counties of Ireland into two, leaving Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone to form Northern Ireland.
Whether one marks, acknowledges, remembers, celebrates or boycotts the centenary, Northern Ireland has had a turbulent history from which no single narrative can be drawn.
Nationalists and unionists hold sharply differing views on the history of Northern Ireland, on its past governance and public representation.
There are different views on the security situation including decades of conflict, seismic events such as the Second World War or the civil rights movement and issues including public housing, freedom to demonstrate and equal voter representation.
Centenary commemorations, however, have not escaped the effects of Covid-19 restrictions.
The pandemic has caused huge disruption to plans by unionist parties to mark the centenary event.
On Tuesday, a panel will examine the history of Northern Ireland.
The talk, involving a number of historians brought together to advise the Government on the centenary, will take place on Tuesday live from the Ulster Museum.
The Government’s plans to mark the centenary of the state’s foundation include a major business showcase in London, a £1 million Shared History Fund, a futuristic programme for young people, tree-planting projects, academic and historic events and an international church service for all denominations.
A total of £1 million has been awarded to 39 community projects to research and demonstrate what 100 years of Northern Ireland has meant to them and their community.
Belfast City Council will host an event at the City Hall marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Northern Ireland Parliament in the building on June 22 1921 by King George V.
Every school will be presented with a native tree to plant in their grounds while an extensive young people’s programme will explore what the future will look like in the next 100 years.
The Centenary Rose, a flower the Government said would represent reflection and hope, will be produced in Northern Ireland and planted in the gardens of the royal residence at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down.
A Centenary Rose will also be presented to the Queen for her own garden and there will be a decorative rose pin designed and produced in the UK, to be worn by VIPs at centenary events and given to programme participants.
Published: 03/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Ugly scenes at Manchester Unitedâs Premier League clash against Liverpool which left a police officer needing emergency hospital treatment have been condemned as âcompletely unacceptableâ by police representatives..
British nationals should not be used as ‘political leverage’ by Iran – Cleverly
British dual nationals such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe should not be used as “political leverage” by Iranian authorities, a Government minister has said.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said ongoing legal disputes between the UK and Iran should be kept separate from the “arbitrary detention” of prisoners in Tehran.
It comes after Iranian state TV suggested Britain would pay a £400 million debt to secure the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, citing an anonymous official.
But UK officials have since downplayed the idea that payment of the debt would mean Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imminent release and Mr Cleverly said recent reports out of Iran had been “inaccurate”.
“We have always said that British dual nationals should not be used as political leverage,” Mr Cleverly told Sky News.
“We have also seen a number of occasions where the Iranian regime have used disinformation, we’re hearing inaccurate reports coming out over the last couple of days.
“On the one hand, they are saying that these proceedings are legitimate, we don’t agree with that at all, but then also saying that they are linked to this legal dispute – it can’t be both.
“We’re making it very, very clear. It is in the hands of the Tehran regime to release these people and they should be released.”
The legal dispute dates back to the 1970s when the then-shah of Iran paid the UK £400 million for 1,500 Chieftain tanks.
Britain refused to deliver the tanks to the new Islamic Republic when the shah was toppled in 1979, but kept the cash despite British courts accepting it should be repaid.
Hopes were raised when Iranian state TV reported that the UK had agreed to pay the £400 million to see the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Mr Cleverly told Times Radio that the dispute was a “completely separate issue” and should “absolutely not” be linked to ongoing imprisonment of British nationals.
“The charges against them are illegitimate, they’re unfounded, their incarceration is completely unacceptable and inappropriate,” he said.
“That is a completely separate issue to the legal dispute that is still ongoing with Iran.
“Iran should absolutely not be linking the two.”
The anonymous official was also quoted saying a deal had been made between the US and Tehran for a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of seven billion dollars (£5 billion) of frozen Iranian funds.
But Washington denied the report, saying suggestions of a prisoner swap were “not true”.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, of north London, was detained in Tehran in 2016 while taking daughter Gabriella to see her family, as authorities made widely refuted allegations of spying.
She completed a five-year sentence in March, having carried out hunger strikes in protest over her treatment in jail as diplomatic efforts were made to secure her freedom.
But she and her family were delivered a fresh blow last week when she was given an additional one-year jail term.
She was also banned from leaving Iran for a further year.
Published: 03/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thanks medics for malaria recovery
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has thanked the medics who helped him fight his way back from malaria to stake a claim for a role in Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final showdown with Villarreal.
The 31-year-old striker scored the Gunners’ second goal in a 2-0 Premier League win at Newcastle on Sunday, his first start since contracting the illness while on international duty with Gabon, and could now be in line to play a significant part in Thursday night’s second leg clash with the Spaniards.
Asked how he felt after getting 77 minutes under his belt on Tyneside, Aubameyang told the club’s official website: “At the end for the last five minutes, I was dying a little bit. But to tell the truth, I felt good the whole game, so I was really happy with that.
“I have to say that the doctors did incredible work with me, bringing me to the hospital and stuff like that. I’m really thankful for them.
“I have to say, when you are out for a few weeks you realise how good it is to be back on the pitch. I was really happy to be back first and scoring a goal.”
Aubameyang returned to action as a late substitute in Thursday’s 2-1 first leg defeat by Villarreal, but will now hope he can take greater responsibility in a game which could go a long way towards shaping how Arsenal’s season is viewed.
He said: “It was really important to take some confidence and win this game. We know that we will need everyone to be ready on Thursday.
“We saw that today, everyone was ready and hopefully we can go through.”
In truth, the Gunners could hardly have asked for a more routine preparation for their big night as they dominated Newcastle – who went into the game unbeaten in four – from start to finish despite manager Mikel Arteta making eight changes to Thursday night’s team.
They took the lead with less than six minutes gone courtesy of Mohamed Elneny’s first Premier League goal and Aubameyang wrapped up the points an hour later with an adept finish from the impressive Gabriel Martinelli’s cross.
The only disappointment for Arteta was a hamstring injury to defender David Luiz, which sees him join Kieran Tierney and Alexandre Lacazette on the casualty list.
For Magpies head coach Steve Bruce, it proved a sobering afternoon as his hopes of climbing to 13th place in the table were wrecked by just a second defeat in nine outings.
Asked about Arsenal’s much-changed line-up, he said: “Some would argue whether it was their second string when I see David Luiz and Aubameyang and people like that.
“But we’re disappointed because we didn’t do enough against them and we didn’t play well enough.
“To beat any Arsenal team, we were going to have to play better than we did today, unfortunately. It was a difficult afternoon for us.”
Published: 03/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Israeli officials under scrutiny over warnings ahead of festival stampede deaths
Officials are coming under growing scrutiny for ignoring warnings about safety lapses at one of Israel’s most visited holy sites, as the country mourned 45 ultra-Orthodox Jews killed in a stampede at a festival.
The disaster at Mount Meron also heated up the debate over the role of the ultra-Orthodox minority in Israel and the refusal of some of its leaders to acknowledge the authority of the state.
The festival had drawn 100,000 people, most of them ultra-Orthodox Jews, after powerful ultra-Orthodox politicians reportedly pressured prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others to lift attendance restrictions.
On Sunday, a group of retired police commissioners called on the prime minister to launch an independent commission with wide-ranging powers to investigate.
The body would have the authority to investigate senior politicians and decision-makers, going beyond a Justice Ministry inquiry which is looking into possible misconduct by police at the site.
The increasingly acrimonious blame game comes amid a political power struggle between Mr Netanyahu and former allies-turned-foes bent on toppling him.
After inconclusive elections in March, his chances of forming a ruling coalition and staying in power seem to be waning, while ultra-Orthodox political allies would feature prominently in any Netanyahu-led government.
The stampede, the deadliest civil disaster in Israel’s history, happened early on Friday during a festival called Lag BaOmer on Mount Meron in northern Israel.
The site is believed to be the burial place of prominent second century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and the annual springtime celebrations are marked by the lighting of large bonfires, singing and dancing.
This year’s festivities went ahead despite national coronavirus restrictions that prevent assemblies of more than 500 people outdoors, and longstanding criticism by police and health authorities in recent years about the safety of mass assemblies at the site.
A common complaint after the stampede was that no single authority was in charge of managing festival safety.
The site is ostensibly run by the Religious Services Ministry’s National Centre for Holy Places, but Eli Ben Dahan, a former deputy religious services minister, said in an interview with Kan radio: “There’s no one person about whom it can be said that they run the event, that everything falls on their shoulders.”
Mount Meron is divided between an assortment of religious trusts, he said, and called for it to be brought under a single administrative authority.
“I don’t think that a place in the state of Israel should be extraterritorial, that the state doesn’t have any control over it, doesn’t manage it, isn’t responsible for it,” he said.
Several retired police commanders told Israeli TV channels over the weekend that during their years on the job they came under intense political pressure to accede to the wishes of religious politicians. They said they had no authority to enforce safety regulations, such as limiting attendance.
Yosef Schwinger, head of the National Centre for Holy Places, said in an interview hours before the stampede that interior minister Aryeh Deri of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party “fought like a lion” at a cabinet meeting to allow the festival to take place unimpeded.
Mr Schwinger said Mr Deri deserved credit for “saving” the Lag BaOmer celebration from a more limited format.
Experts have long warned the site was inadequately equipped to handle a large number of visitors on the holiday, and that the existing state of infrastructure was a safety risk.
The warnings became reality early on Friday when thousands of people leaving one area of the site funnelled through a narrow passageway descending the mountain.
A slick slope and stairs caused people to slip and fall, resulting in a human avalanche that killed 45 people and and injured at least 150.
Published: 02/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Johnson should resign if he broke ministerial code, says Scottish Tory leader
Boris Johnson should resign if he is found to have broken the ministerial code, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said as the Prime Minister is investigated over renovations to his Downing Street flat.
Douglas Ross said on Sunday that Mr Johnson should “of course” quit if he is found to have breached the code as probes are under way into whether he properly declared any donations for the lavish refurbishments.
The Prime Minister, however, remains the “ultimate arbitrator” of the code and gets the final say on whether he broke the rules, a situation Labour says allows him to be his own “judge and jury” as the opposition calls for reform.
Mr Ross’s comment came amid signs a string of allegations may be damaging the Tories ahead of Thursday’s elections and as fresh claims over donations emerged.
He was asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show if Mr Johnson should quit if found to be in breach of the ministerial code, with Mr Ross having previously called for the resignation of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon if she had broken the rules.
“Of course, I think people expect the highest standards of those in the highest office of the land, that’s why I think people are looking at the investigations that are currently ongoing and waiting for the answers,” Mr Ross said.
The Electoral Commission this week launched an investigation into whether any donations or loans to pay for the refurbishment of his residence in No 11 were properly declared.
But new standards adviser Lord Geidt has also been tasked with reviewing the controversy, in an investigation expected to touch on whether he has breached the ministerial code.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended Mr Johnson on Sunday but declined to say whether the Prime Minister should resign if he is found to have broken the law by the Electoral Commission.
“I think the right thing for me to do is respect the integrity of those reviews and let them run their course rather than commenting on what may or may not be found at the end of it,” he told Marr.
Mr Raab declined to deny a claim that a second invoice for lavish renovations of the Prime Minister’s residence in No 11 may have been settled with the supplier by a Tory donor.
And he was asked about the suggestion in The Sunday Times that an MP received a complaint from a Tory donor that they were asked to pay for a nanny for Mr Johnson’s one-year-old son Wilfred.
“I have no idea, you don’t have conversations like that with the PM,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, as he derided the claim as “tittle-tattle”.
A No 10 spokeswoman said the Prime Minister “has covered the cost of all childcare”, but did not respond when asked if he paid for the original bill himself or had reimbursed somebody else.
Mr Raab backed the Electoral Commission as some backbench Tories called for reform of the watchdog.
“I trust it to look at these things in the right way,” the Cabinet minister said.
As well as pressure over the renovations, Mr Johnson has been forced to deny saying he would rather see “bodies pile high” than impose a third coronavirus lockdown, on top of a lobbying row and allegations of cronyism.
Although earlier polls suggested the “sleaze” allegations were not significantly denting public support for the Tories, two fresh surveys gave evidence to the contrary ahead of the local elections in England and votes for the parliaments in Scotland and Wales.
The Conservatives fell to a five-point lead over Labour, with 42% compared to 37%, according to the Opinium poll of more than 2,000 adults between Wednesday and Friday.
That put the Tories down two points and Labour up four compared to a week earlier, halving the Conservatives’ lead ahead of the elections, in which some 48 million people are eligible to vote.
And in separate polling, Focaldata put Labour on 39%, one point behind the Tories, who previously had a healthy lead, according to The Sunday Times.
Mr Johnson has denied breaking any laws over the refurbishment of his residence and insisted he had paid “personally” for the works.
But he has refused to say whether he received an initial loan from the Conservative Party, as Downing Street launched two separate reviews into the controversy.
Published: 02/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Colleague pays tribute to ‘ray of sunshine’ PCSO Julia James
A colleague of murdered police community support officer Julia James has paid tribute to her as a “ray of sunshine” as the investigation into her death continues this weekend.
Ms James, 53, died from serious head injuries while out walking her dog and her body was found in woods close to her home in the village of Snowdown, near Dover in Kent, on Tuesday.
Police have not ruled out that Ms James was killed by a stranger, someone she came across during her work, someone trying to steal her dog, or as part of a sexual assault.
Her body was found just a few hundred yards from her home.
Mourners have been laying floral tributes to Ms James in a park in nearby Aylesham village.
Kelly Adsia, a PCSO from Canterbury, who had come to see the tributes, told the PA news agency: “We are just completely in shock and completely numb and can’t compute it at all.
“We are just trying to focus on the amazing times we had with her, the laughs and the hugs, rather than what happened because that (her killing) dehumanises her.”
Ms James joined Kent Police in 2008 as a crime reduction PCSO and more recently had supported victims of domestic abuse, based at Canterbury police station.
Ms Adsia said: “You can say amazing and wonderful but it is not enough and it sounds like a cliche. When you say that someone is lovely, it makes them sound like she was a wet lettuce and she wasn’t.
“She was so cheeky, funny and naughty. She would walk into the office and we would all be laughing. She was just like a ray of sunshine.
“There are just not the words you can use (to describe her). She was just so wonderful and lovely.”
She added: “She was involved in so many people’s lives. We all know her to a certain extent and we are all looking after each other.
“It is one thing (the police) are all good at, thank God, which is looking after each other.”
Ms Adsia continued: “I know that my colleagues will not stop – they will do that for anybody – but they will not stop until we find whoever did this.
“If they (the killers) knew Julia and met her for even five seconds they would not have done this – even if they had just said hello to her, they would not have done this.
“We want to remember her and not what has happened – that is what we want to focus on.
“We are never going to know (what happened) until somebody finds them.”
At a press conference on Friday, Kent Police Assistant Chief Constable Tom Richards urged members of the public to be “vigilant” and “aware of their surroundings”.
Mr Richards would not comment on motive or any potential murder weapon and also declined to say whether detectives had found signs of a struggle.
Mr Richards said the force had not yet identified any suspects and was “keeping all options open” while the killing was investigated.
On Saturday, police officers could be seen searching the verges of the woods where Ms James was found.
A white police tent had been erected nearby.
One tribute to Ms James was addressed “to our beautiful niece Julia”.
It read: “No words can express our sadness. Our family has lost the most beautiful soul. In our hearts always. George and Jane.”
Ms James’s family recalled her “beautiful smile” and “brilliant sense of humour” in a statement on Friday.
“There are no words to adequately describe the void left in our lives by the death of our mum,” they said.
“She was so much to so many people; a wife, mother, daughter, nanny, sister and a friend.
“Mum was fiercely loyal, she loved with her whole heart and nothing was too much trouble for the people she cared about.”
They added: “Her loss will be felt by us every moment of every day. She will be so sorely missed. As a family we are trying to understand how we will navigate our lives without her, it seems an impossible task.”
Published: 01/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub
Police receive report of sex offences following allegations against Noel Clarke
The Metropolitan Police say they are assessing a third party report relating to claims of sexual offences committed by a male, after allegations were made against actor Noel Clarke.
Earlier this week, The Guardian published allegations of misconduct from 20 women who knew Clarke in a professional capacity.
Clarke has previously said he “vehemently” denies allegations of sexual misconduct or criminal behaviour but said he will be seeking professional help and has apologised “deeply” for his actions.
In a statement, the police said no investigation is currently taking place.
A Metropolitan Police statement said on Saturday: “On Wednesday April 21, police received a third party report relating to allegations of sexual offences allegedly committed by a male over a period of time.
“Officers are currently assessing the information. There is no investigation at this time.”
On Friday evening, ITV pulled the concluding episode of drama Viewpoint, which starred the 45-year-old.
Broadcaster Sky, which has aired three series of Clarke’s series Bulletproof, has said it is halting work with Clarke following the accusations.
Bafta has also suspended Clarke’s membership of the organisation and his outstanding British contribution to cinema award, which he was handed last month at the film academy’s awards.
Following the allegations he has also been suspended from Unstoppable Film and Television, a production company he co-founded in 2007, according to a statement from a spokesman for parent company All3Media.
In a statement to the PA news agency on Friday, Clarke said: “I vehemently deny any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing.
“Recent reports however have made it clear to me that some of my actions have affected people in ways I did not intend or realise.
“To those individuals, I am deeply sorry. I will be seeking professional help to educate myself and change for the better.”
Published: 01/05/2021 by Radio NewsHub