Santa Claus has been given the all-clear to enter Irish air space, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said.

"Santa and Mrs Claus, associated reindeer and a very, very large sleigh have been granted permission to enter Irish air space from 5pm this evening," the minister said in a statement.

Santa earlier announced his estimated time of arrival in Ireland.

In a surprise phone call to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he declared that he would be coming into view of Ireland at about 6.45pm this evening.

Sharing news that one of Blitzen's hooves got caught in a Christmas tree last night, he said the reindeer might be in need of some veterinary assistance.

As a result, Santa said he might be "a little late getting to some places in the world" but assured all the girls and boys in the world that he always manages "to deliver on time".

Speaking from Leinster House today, Mr Ross said there would be "no obstacle" to Santa "entering Irish air space as soon as it gets dark this Christmas Eve."

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He said that "Santa's sleigh has been checked for air worthiness and is fully approved for round-the-world travel."

"All permits and insurance credentials are in order," he added.

The minister said that "Mrs Claus will be accompanying Santa in her role as chief navigator" and said she has "advised that milk, cookies and carrots are the best items for children to leave out before they go to bed".

He said Mrs Claus is known to be passionate about the sleigh being an "alcohol-free" zone and that, in a tradition which started last year, Santa now insists on being breathalysed before setting on his travels.

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