Evening top 5: Britain files for divorce; Helicopter missing over Irish Sea; Commissioner fears further garda malpractice

The top stories of the day on Newstalk.com ...

Helicopter missing over Irish Sea

A helicopter with five people on board has gone missing over the Irish Sea.

A spokesman for the UK Coastguard said it was coordinating a search operation in the Caernarfon Bay area of North Wales.

Radar contact with the twin squirrel red helicopter was lost this afternoon and the UK Coastguard was asked to start a search operation at 4.15pm.

Ireland "firmly" on team EU as Britain triggers Article 50

European Council President Donald Tusk has received Theresa May's letter triggering Article 50.

The letter was delivered by Britain's EU Ambassador Tim Barrow in Brussels this morning.

It means the British Prime Minister has now launched the formal process for leaving the EU.

Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty the UK will now leave the EU two years from today, and a tough period of negotiations begins with the EU27.

Garda malpractice could extend deeper into force

The Commissioner of An Garda Síochána is set to reveal that the malpractice that led to the latest series of scandals engulfing the force may extend deeper than feared.

Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is due before the Oireachtas Justice Committee tomorrow – however her opening remarks were published by the Irish Independent this afternoon.

The commissioner will offer her sincere apologies to the public for the “grave mistakes and wrongdoing” over the past ten years that led to the latest revelations.

Water charges "one step closer to full abolition"

The government’s water charges committee has agreed on a set of final recommendations that, if accepted, would see very few people in Ireland paying for domestic water.

The Oireachtas Committee on the Future Funding of Domestic Water Services will deliver its final report to the government next week.

While the committee has recommended that there should be fines for households that are “wilfully wasting water” – the proposed threshold for wastage has been set at 70% higher than the average usage.

Noonan launches attack on Public Accounts Committee

The Minister for Finance has launched an unprecedented attack on the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, accusing it of 'conjuring up' unfounded criticism of him.

The accusation set the stage for an evening of heated argument in the Dáil, with the minister and the chair of the committee calling on each other to resign.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, Seán Fleming revealed that the minister had earlier threatened him with an injunction over the committee’s report.