Morning top 5: Fine Gael leadership contest to get underway; special counsel appointed in US for Russia probe

The top stories this Thursday morning...

Fine Gael's rules committee will meet today to lay out the plan for the election of a new leader.

The National Executive Council will decide when hustings and voting will take place around the country in order for the election to be concluded by June 2nd.

The two leading contenders - Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney - will spend the day finalising their campaign launches, while speculation continues that a third candidate may emerge.

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The Government Chief Whip says she will declare who she is supporting in the leadership battle today.

Regina Doherty also said she expects Education Minister Richard Bruton to announce his entry into the race later.

Enda Kenny officially stepped down as party leader as of midnight, but will stay on as Taoiseach in an acting capacity until a replacement is appointed.

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Former FBI director Robert Mueller has been appointed to lead an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign.

He will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he might uncover.

President Trump said the inquiry will show there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and a foreign power.

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Children's agency UNICEF is warning there has been a five-fold increase in number of refugee and migrant children traveling alone.

200,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum across the world between last year and the year before.

They accounted for 92% of all children arriving to Italy by sea in 2016.

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A jobs expo for prisoners will take place in Dublin today.

It will be launched by the Minister for State David Stanton, and will aim to give jobs and opportunities for ex-inmates.

Today's event comes a day after annual figures revealed the number of people in jail across Ireland had dropped.