Morning top 5: Civilians flee Eastern Aleppo; Francois Fillon to contest French Presidential election; Taoiseach to meet with Pope in Vatican

The top stories this morning on Newstalk.com

Nearly 10,000 civilians have fled eastern Aleppo, with Government forces determined to retake the entire city.

Government forces have reportedly retaken control of three key districts in rebel-held eastern Aleppo in two days.

UN officials say at least 250,000 civilians have been trapped under government siege for months in the east, with dwindling food and fuel supplies.

Since 15 November, the resumed bombardment in Aleppo has killed at least 212 civilians, including 27 children according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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Francois Fillon has been elected as the centre-right candidate to fight France's presidential election; and he appears to be the favourite to win.

He defeated rival Alain Juppe by a wide margin last night. Mr Fillon had won 67% of votes and Mr Juppe was on 33%, according to results from about 90% of polling stations.

The pair - both former prime ministers - were vying to become the centre-right Les Républicains party candidate in the election.

Speaking after his victory, Mr Fillon, 62, said: "I must now convince the whole country our project is the only one that can lift us up.

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Cystic Fibrosis Ireland (CFI) is calling on the Minister for Health to make the drug, Orkambi, available as soon as possible.

In a statement, the health service said the drug is considered to be unjustifiably expensive and said it is disappointed the manufacturer, Vertex, will not lower what it has called "the exorbitant price."

CFI described the leak of the news to a Sunday newspaper as heartless and said it was disrespectful to the Health Minister, Simon Harris and patients who have been waiting for months for a development.

Philip Watt, CEO of CF Ireland said group has sought a meeting with Mr Harris who he said has indicated that “this is not the end of the line” for the drug in Ireland.

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The Taoiseach will meet Pope Francis in the Vatican today.

Enda Kenny is expected to discuss the church's World Meeting of Families planned for August 2018, which will include a papal visit to Ireland. 

There's speculation he could encourage Pope Francis to extend his itinerary to include parts of the country outside Dublin, as well as Northern Ireland. 

It has been five years since Mr Kenny made a speech in the Dáil which was highly critical of the church's handling of the clerical sex abuse crisis.

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Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon is due to arrive in Ireland today.

Ms Sturgeon is working on strengthening links with other countries in the wake of the Brexit vote, and her itinerary includes talks with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

Ms Sturgeon will visit Trinity College in Dublin today and she will become the first foreign leader to address the upper house of the Irish Parliament when she addresses the Seanad tomorrow.