Morning top 5: Evacuation of civilians from Aleppo delayed; Fianna Fáil concerns put rent strategy in doubt; HSE set to launch new service plan

The top stories this Wednesday morning...

The overnight evacuation of civilians from opposition held districts of Aleppo has been delayed.

A fleet of buses had arrived in Aleppo for the evacuation of Syrian rebels and civilians after a ceasefire was agreed.

Buses had been due to start taking people out of the city from 3am this morning - but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nobody had left an hour later.

Over the past couple of days people trapped in Aleppo have taken to social media to give their final farewells to the world in emotional videos.

***

Fianna Fáil has raised concerns over the government's new rent strategy, casting doubt on its passage through the Dáil in its present form.

The main opposition party said it has 'genuine concerns' about Housing Minister Simon Coveney's plan to deal with the rental crisis.

The party's housing spokesperson Barry Cowen said the proposed 4% cap on rent increases in Dublin and Cork is not appropriate.

The party is calling for more cities to be included in the new strategy.

Deputy Cowen said tax incentives for landlords should also be part of the package.

***

A range of Government departments are being asked to come up with half of the money for an increase in Garda pay.

When the Labour Court proposals were first issued, the Department of Justice said the extra money needed to cover the cost would come from within its own budget.

It has now been agreed that the bill will be split between the Department of Justice and the rest of the public service.

In order to pay for the Labour Court deal, €25m million will be taken off the other Departments of State - meaning all of them will have to scale back in other areas in order to meet the extra pay bill.

***

The first Garda Armed Support Unit for Dublin is being launched today.

The unit is being brought in to help tackle a surge in gangland crime, including the ongoing feud in Dublin.

The 50 member unit is equipped with high powered cars and modern firearms.

It is designed to provide a highly visible deterrent to criminal activity and is the first time the capital has had a designated armed support unit.

***

The HSE is due to publish its €14bn service plan for next year this afternoon.

The executive’s director general, Tony O’Brien will join the Health Minister in announcing details of the 2017 service plan.

The package could amount to the biggest budget in the HSE's history.

Meanwhile, it is reported this morning that the government will also unveil a new strategy to fund breakthrough drugs like the Cystic Fibrosis treatment Orkambi - using income streams like hospital car parks and private patients.