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Education news

Ophelia claims a third life while schools across the island remain closed tomorrow

 Picture from Met Éireann on Twitter at 9am shows the path the storm is taking
Digital Staff

Ophelia has claimed a third life in the Republic. 

In the latest fatal accident a man died after a tree fell on a car in Ravensdale, Dundalk.

A man in his thirties and a woman in her fifties have also died.

The man died in a chainsaw accident in Cahir, Co Tipperary after  trying to remove a tree downed by storm Ophelia, gardai said. 

The woman died after a tree fell on her car in severe winds. She was driving close to the village of Aglish in Waterford.

A female passenger, in her seventies, was also injured and taken to Waterford Regional Hospital for treatment, gardai said. Her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening at this time.

Gardai have urged all road users to remain indoors and not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Gusts of over 96mph (156kph) have already battered the south west coast of Ireland.

Meanwhile, schools across the island will remain closed for a second day tomorrow.

Northern Ireland Electricity has reported "widespread damage" to the network. Currently, 1,300 customers are without power in the region.

Around 360,000 homes and businesses have been left without power in the Republic as winds sweep across the island.

ESB, the Republic of Ireland's electricity network, warned that more outages are expected and that repairs will take several days.

Northern Ireland is covered with an amber warning - meaning there is a "potential risk to life and property", issued when forecasters believe people need to be prepared to change their plans and protect themselves from the impacts of severe weather.

The emergency services are urging people to stay away from open water, cliffs, harbours etc. A man take selfies in waves and high wind at Lahinch in County Clare. Picture by Niall Carson, PA Wire 

Traffic and travel

The main A2 road from Harbour Roundabout in Larne to Mill Street, Cushendall is to be closed from 7pm.

All Translink Metro services and Goldline services will be suspended from 5.30pm. At 3.30pm Translink said there were delays to all rail services "due to poor rail conditions".

The final trains today are:

Derry

17:10 Great Victoria Street to Derry
17:38 Derry to Great Victoria Street

Portadown 

18:40 Great Victoria Street to Portadown
18:45 Portadown Great Victoria Street

Bangor 

18:32 Great Victoria Street to Bangor
18:57 Bangor to Great Victoria Street

Larne 

18:15 Great Victoria Street to Larne
18:28 Larne to Great Victoria Street

Portrush 

18:43 Coleraine to Portrush
19:03 Portrush to Coleraine

A fallen tree has caused delays on the M1 and on the train service to Portadown, past Lisburn. A building has fallen on the Albertbrdige Road in east Belfast.

The Department for Infrastructure has activated its emergency plan and is monitoring roads, rivers and tides. 

The M1 is queued westbound from Stockmans Lane to Lisburn as people make their way home and traffic is heavy on many routes out of Belfast.

Translink says cross channel services are also affected while Aircoach has cancelled services to Dublin Airport.

The counties worst hit by 12.30pm were Kerry, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Limerick.

 

Flights have been cancelled at Belfast International and Belfast City Airports.

Forests and country parks are also closed to the public while the RSPB has closed its Portmore Lough Nature Reserve and Belfast's Window on Wildlife.

 

Hospital appointments and procedures cancelled

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has asked the public to avoid using GP services during the storm except for emergencies.

While hospital emergency departments remain open, the IMO has also urged the public to ensure that these are reserved for genuine emergencies.

Dr Padraig McGarry, chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO, said that while most GP surgeries will remain open today, they want to ensure GP members are free to deal with genuine emergency cases rather than with more routine business.

In respect of emergency departments of hospitals, Dr Peadar Gilligan, chairman of the Consultant Committee said: "We expect emergency departments to be particularly busy over the coming 24 hours and we would urge the public to respect the fact that these should be reserved for genuine emergencies only."

The South Eastern Trust "plans to continue to deliver services, both in hospitals and in the community".

"If you feel you can travel safely and get home safely, we will be here to provide your services. However, we don’t want anyone to feel under pressure to attend appointments today if they have concerns or feel it is unsafe. We can assure you that you will not go to the bottom of the list and we will endeavour to reschedule your appointment as soon as we can."

Belfast Trust has cancelled all outpatients appointments and elective day cases this afternoon.

The Western Trust says it has postponed routine outpatient appointments and routine treatments scheduled for this afternoon at Altnagelvin Hosptial, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care and the South West Acute Hospital. "The trust is contacting people directly with regards to their appointments," it said.

Services scheduled for tomorrow will be reviewed this afternoon and the trust said it will update the public via its social media accounts.

Help the homeless

St Patrick's Soup Kitchen in Belfast city centre will open today to provide food and shelter for the homeless and rough sleepers.

Volunteers will be there from 5pm although they will open earlier if required.

St Patrick's Soup kitchen is on Donegall Street, beside St Patrick's Church.

Housing Executive offices will close from noon and emergency calls will be accepted from 5pm on 03448 920 901.  Its Waterside Office in Derry is open for anyone needing to present as homeless today or you call 03448 920 901 until 5pm. 

 

 

Emergency meeting at Stormont

The Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling, held an emergency meeting with the permanent secretaries from all government departments this morning.

It was decided that all government buildings providing non-essential services close at 1pm and all non-essential civil service staff will leave work at that time.

Guidance is to be issued later in relation to school opening arrangements for Tuesday.

School closures

The Department of Education advised that all schools in the north should close on Monday. Authorities faced criticism after announcing closure advice so late, giving parents limited time to arrange childcare.

Ulster University has closed its Belfast, Coleraine, Jordanstown and Magee campuses today while Queen's University is not holding classes after midday.

The storm had been a hurricane but is now classified as an ex-hurricane with destructive winds.

Banks, businesses and services which have closed

 Shops are closed in Belfast city centre. Picture by Mal McCann

All government buildings will close at 1pm and all non essential staff will be sent home/advised to work from home, according to the civil service.

Dunnes stores has closed all its stores across the island and confirmed that "all staff rostered to work 16/10/17 will be paid as normal". Ikea Belfast has also closed while Titanic Belfast is closing at noon.

A number of companies have also sent staff home early. Many shops and business were closed by lunchtime in Belfast city centre. 

First Trust, Danske Bank and Bank of Ireland branches have closed. Ulster Bank closes at 1pm.

Courts and Tribunal Service offices will close at 1pm.

 

How to stay safe

Farmers are being urged to remain vigilant and mindful of their own safety when protecting their premises and livestock. 

The RNLI has issued a warning for people to stay out of the sea during the extreme weather.

Belfast Harbour has advised that City Quays walkway will be closed from noon and people are asked to stay away from the water's edge around the harbour.

 

Republic of Ireland

All schools and colleges are to remain closed tomorrow, the government has announced.

Counties Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal are due to bear the brunt of the winds as the storm sweeps up the island.

In the Republic schools, nurseries and colleges have been closed, court sittings postponed, numerous hospital outpatient appointments cancelled and the Defence Forces put on standby. Bus Eireann has also cancelled all services until 2pm.

Businesses have been urged to consider whether opening would pose a risk to employees. 

 

Amber warning in Northern Ireland warns of 'potential danger to life'

The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland and warned of "potential danger to life".

The differing severity of alerts north and south of the border is more due to differences in the way Met Eireann and the Met Office rate threats, rather than an indication that Northern Ireland will not be hit as hard.

In regard to Northern Ireland, the Met Office said: "There is a good chance that power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.

"Flying debris is likely, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown on to coastal roads, sea fronts and properties.

"This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life."

 

Heavy rain is also possible in parts of Northern Ireland.

Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said that while storms with these wind speeds tend to happen at this time of year, the one on its way is "quite a substantial system", adding that he would describe it as "pretty exceptional".

Mr Miall said Ophelia will have gone through a transition on its way across the Atlantic and will no longer be a hurricane, but will still bring "hurricane-force" winds.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: "Please check in with older neighbours and those who need medical care."

 

 

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