Morning top 5: EU leaders gathering in Brussels for key summit; search to 'begin immediately' for new US Supreme Court judge

The top stories this Thursday morning...

Concerns over drought conditions have intensified amid the continuing heatwave.

The current hot weather saw temperatures in Shannon Airport yesterday hitting 31 degrees, with similar temperatures forecast for today.

Rain at the start of last week has left the northwest in a better position than the rest of the country.

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Donald Trump's controversial trade war with the EU will be discussed as European leaders meet this afternoon in Brussels.

Leaders will also look at attempting to "break the business model" of Mediterranean people-smugglers fuelling the migration crisis.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will attend the talks, which will also focus on Brexit.

Mr Varadkar is expected to express his disappointment with a lack of progress on backstop negotiations.

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The US President has said the search for a new Supreme Court judge in the US will begin immediately.

It follows the announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring.

The retirement offers President Trump and the Republicans an opportunity to shift the balance of the highest court in the country to the right, and it follows the heated political battle to fill the last vacancy in 2016.

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The Taoiseach needs to cop on and realise he doesn't have a 'divine right to power', according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

In his strongest attack on the Government yet, Deputy Martin criticised the Taoiseach for negotiating the confidence and supply arrangement through the media.

He called on Mr Varadkar to respect his party's 'bona fides'.

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A public meeting will be held later today to discuss plans for a site of a former Magdalene Laundry on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin.

Organisers say it is at risk of being sold by Dublin City Council and turned into a hotel.

The site is the last laundry in the ownership of the State.