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Online library memberships soar by more than 300%

E-books and audio books have become increasingly popular during the coronavirus pandemic.

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E-books have become increasingly popular (David Parry/PA)

E-books have become increasingly popular (David Parry/PA)

E-books have become increasingly popular (David Parry/PA)

New online library memberships have soared by more than 300% across Ireland since the outbreak of Covid-19.

New book worms have turned to online library services as strict measures are keeping the nation at home.

E-books and audio books have become increasingly popular as the Government reported a dramatic increase in the use of online services in recent weeks.

Senior Government official Liz Canavan said: “There’s been a 106% increase in e-book loans and a 66% increase in eAudiobook loans since the beginning of March.

“In addition, there has been over a 300% increase in new library users throughout March.

Bringing forward this payment should significantly improve cash flow on Irish farms in these challenging timesLiz Canavan

“It’s heartening to know that people are taking advantage of community services that are made available to support them at this difficult time and reading is a great way, not only to entertain ourselves during this crisis, but also to look after our mental health.”

It was also confirmed during the government’s daily briefing that farmers will be able to access funding from an agri-environment scheme a month earlier than planned.

Ms Canavan said: “As part of the response to the impacts that Covid-19 is having on Irish farming incomes, payments for the Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme – GLAS – will commence a month ahead of schedule.

“Bringing forward this payment should significantly improve cash flow on Irish farms in these challenging times.

“The GLAS scheme incentivises farmers to promote biodiversity, protect water quality and also to combat climate change on their farms.

“Over 26 million euros in GLAS balancing payments will be issued to 42,300 farmers who are participating in the scheme and will reach bank accounts early next week.”

Ireland’s Department of Employment has also warned of a bogus email which is seeking a refund of unemployment payments made to customers to a nominated bank account.

Ms Canavan said the emails generally came from a Gmail or Hotmail address.

“The department has asked us to warn you categorically that it does not use Gmail or Hotmail addresses when issuing notifications to customers,” she said.

“These incidents are treated with the utmost seriousness and the gardai have been notified.

“Should a person receive such an email and be in any doubt as to its authenticity, please contact the department at 01704308.”

She also said that over 1,000 calls were made to the Community Call Forum on Thursday.

The forum, which is run by local authorities across Ireland, has received over 14,600 calls since it was set up last month.

Ms Canavan also said that a dispute has arisen between the owners of Liverpool Port and P&O ferries.

“This has resulted in a P&O ferry being prevented from sailing from Liverpool to Dublin yesterday,” she said.

“While this is primarily a contractual matter, any protracted dispute would have implications for the supply chain in Ireland.

“The Department of Transport is engaging actively with P&O and other port companies to resolve the issues.

“P&O ferries account for less than 20% of the freight between Ireland and the UK.

“It’s understood that our supply chains won’t be materially impacted.”

PA