Morning top 5: Vote counting to get underway in North; Trump accuses Democrats of "witch hunt"

The top stories this Friday morning...

Donald Trump has accused Democrats of conducting a "witch hunt" in their criticism of his Attorney General over his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign.

It comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he will not take part in any investigations into Russian interference in last year's election after it emerged that he twice spoke with Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.

However, Mr Sessions has continued to draw a distinction between his conversations with the Russian ambassador in his role as a senator and his role in Mr Trump's presidential campaign.

While President Trump hit out at Democrats over their response to the revelations, he also conceded that Mr Sessions "could have stated his response more accurately" when the then-senator was questioned by Congress over Russian contacts.

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Householders could be set for a cash injection in a deal reached on water charges.

According to the Irish Independent, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have reached a compromise which would see families receive refunds of up to €325 euro.

The special Oireachtas committee has given parties until later today to make new proposals on whether we should be charged for excessive use.

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Counting will get underway at 8am this morning in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

The snap vote was triggered by the collapse of the power-sharing executive six weeks ago.

Yesterday was the second time in ten months voters have gone to the polls - and politicians now have three weeks to form a government.

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A new poll on abortion shows that more people favour reforming our 'right to life' laws than scrapping them altogether.

The survey in today's Irish Times claims that just 28% of voters want to repeal the 8th Amendment of the constitution so the Dáil is given power to legislate for abortion.

However 38% would like to see the amendment replaced with another giving greater access to terminations, while 16% said the 8th should not be repealed.

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A man arrested in connection with the murder of a Northern Ireland prison officer is due before the High Court this morning.

52-year-old David Black was shot dead on his way to work in Armagh in November 2012.

Three people were arrested yesterday as part of a joint operation by the Gardaí and the PSNI.