Every afternoon, TheJournal.ie brings you five things you really need to know at 5 o’clock.
1. #BAILOUT: Europe’s finance ministers have agreed to increase the size of the EU’s emergency bailout fund to €500bn from 2013, with the current European Financial Stability Fund – from which Ireland is getting €22.5bn in funding – being replaced by a new European Stability Mechanism.
It remains unclear, however, that quantity of the new fund will actually be available for lending: the original €440bn fund had been criticised because it could only lend out about €250bn without losing its AAA rating.
2. #GE11: Just tens days to go now until polling day, and the fallout from last night’s second leaders’ debate has seen Enda Kenny’s stock rising: bookmakers now make him virtually unbackable to be the next Taoiseach, while his party is now expected to accrue over 70 seats on February 25.
Gerry Adams, meanwhile, has dismissed Micheál Martin’s “smear campaign” against him following comments during last night’s debate, when Martin attacked the Sinn Féin president for his apparent hypocrisy when discussing fraud.
There’s good news for Labour today too, though: a poll in today’s Evening Herald makes the party the most popular in Dublin, with 31 per cent of voters supporting them ahead of Fine Gael on 29. Sinn Féin are on 11 per cent, one point ahead of Fianna Fáil.
3. #SMOKING: Is this another poor omen for Micheál Martin? The health minister who proposed the controversial smoking ban won’t be pleased to learn of new studies showing that Irish people are smoking more, and spending more on smoking, now than they did last year.
Aviva’s stats showed that the average smoker spent €3,519 on their habit in 2010 – up by around €1,500 on the previous year – and that the average smoker smokes 23 cigarettes a day, up by 10.
4. #BERLUSCONI: A bad day, too, for Silvio Berlusconi: the 74-year-old Italian prime minister will stand trial in April to face charges that he paid a 17-year-old girl for sex. Prosecutors say the billionaire paid for sex for an underage Moroccan girl and then used his influence to have her released after a later unrelated arrest.
5. #RUBBERBANDITS: It may not have been the Christmas number one in Ireland, but the Limerick hip-hop duo are seeing a new lease of life… in Cambodia. AsiaLIFE magazine lists the Bandits in its ‘Going Up’ section, declaring “horses are clearly better than cars”.
The Limerick lads still have a bee in their bonnets though: they’re not best pleased that Labour candidate in Dublin South Central, Michael Conaghan, cogged the tune to ‘Horse Outside’ for his own campaign song.