EVERY MORNING, TheJournal.ie brings you the nine stories you need to know as you kick off your day.
1. #ST PATRICK’S DAY: Tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in parades and events around the country for St Patrick’s Day today. Half a million people are expected to watch the Dublin parade which begins at 12 noon, while one million more will watch the parade on television and via the internet. Around the world, landmarks and iconic buildings have been turned green to promote Ireland abroad.
2. #TROOPS ABROAD: Meanwhile more than 400 Irish soldiers will be spending St Patrick’s Day in 15 different countries on 12 difference peace missions across the world. Members of the Irish Defence Forces are stationed in Congo, Afghanistan, Kosovo and south Lebanon, among other countries.
3. #OPINION POLL: Three quarters of voters are dissatisfied with the government’s performance, according to a Millward Brown poll for the Sunday Independent. The poll also found Fianna Fáil is once again the most popular party in the country with 29 per cent while support for Labour has fallen into the single digits.
4. #CYPRUS: The president of Cyprus has defended the €10 billion bailout agreed between the country and the EU which has provoked major criticism, particularly over a plan to tax people’s savings, the BBC reports. Nicos Anastasiades said the bailout was necessary to avoid a ‘disorderly bankruptcy’.
5. #DONATIONS: The Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) is investigating gifts including free flights and hotels given to a number of TDs and Senators by an anti-abortion lobby group to see whether they broke rules around political donations, the Sunday Times reports.
6. #CHINA: The new president of China Xi Jinping has used his first speech as leader to say he will fight for “the great renaissance of the Chinese nation“.
7. #PHARMACISTS: Pharmacists are making huge profits on drugs for patients with medical cards, receiving significant reductions on the cost from drug companies and receiving reimbursements worth up to ten times more than they paid for the drugs from the HSE, the Sunday Business Post reports.
8. #STATE AID: Irish MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher has met with the European Commissioner for competition to ask him to reconsider his position on reducing or abolishing State aid from the EU to member countries, which he says would have a dramatically adverse effect on Ireland’s industry.
9. #IRAQ: At least 112,000 civilians have died in the ten years since the US-led invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam Hussein, according to a new report published today to mark the anniversary of the decade-long conflict, AFP reports.