Morning top 5: Government under pressure over inflated new home figures; McDonald's banning plastic straws; Sinn Féin Ard Fheis to get underway

The top stories this morning on Newstalk

The Government is under pressure to explain how it over-estimated the number of new homes being built.

The latest statistics from the CSO show that around 53,000 new homes were completed between 2011 and 2017.

The Department of Housing has previously claimed that more than 84,000 had been built - an extra 30,000 homes.

The CSO figures took a range of data sources into consideration – while the Government had been basing its calculations solely on new electricity connections.


McDonald's is getting rid of plastic straws from its Irish restaurants - and replacing them with paper ones.

The fast food chain will start the phased rollout of paper straws in all of its 92 outlets from September.

Some eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year – with catastrophic environmental consequences.

The Environment Minister has welcomed the McDonald’s announcement, calling it a "move in the right direction" to eliminate single use plastics.


The Sinn Féin Ard Fheis begins in Belfast today with 171 motions up for debate.

Among them is a motion for the party to support the government recommendations on abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks.

Delegates will also be asked to only consider entering a left wing government after the next election.

The Ard Fheis will also hear a call for RTÉ to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest in protest at the violence in Israel.


A man is due in court later after a west Dublin drugs bust worth just over €500,000.

Three people were arrested in connection with the seizure of cannabis herb in Blanchardstown on Wednesday.

The drugs were found when Gardaí stopped and searched a car on Mill Road and later carried out follow-up searches.

Two people appeared in court in connection yesterday – while a 39-year-old man is due before Blanchardstown District Court this morning.


A memorial service for Professor Stephen Hawking will be held at Westminster Abbey in London this lunchtime.

It will include readings from astronaut Tim Peake and Benedict Cumberbatch - who played the physicist in a TV film.

His ashes will be buried alongside other great scientists like Darwin and Newton.