EVERY MORNING, TheJournal.ie brings you the nine things you need to know as you kick off your day…
1. #NEWTOWN: Barack Obama has told a memorial service for the victims of the Newtown massacre that America needs to change in order to prevent further mass shootings. The comments could hint at an attempt to radically change America’s gun control laws, a move that would likely prompt ire among the country’s powerful gun lobby.
2. #BUDGET 2013: The government’s concerns over getting the Social Welfare Bill through the Seanad this week appear to have been eased somewhat, however. The Irish Times reports that two of the four Labour senators who had concerns over the Bill have been placated, with only one – James Heffernan – still unsure about his vote. The government only has a 31-28 majority in the Seanad, so the defection of two government members could see the Bill defeated.
3. #SINN FÉIN: One Sinn Féin TD has been stripped of a €9,500-a-year committee job after refusing to back a Sinn Féin motion seeking legislation for the X Case. Peadar Toibín abstained in the Dáil vote last month – and will keep the party whip, but will lose his spot as the chairman of the Oireachtas petitions committee.
4. #ABORTION: Staying on that topic, a pro-life group has accused Labour of using its stance on abortion to deflect criticism of a regressive Budget. The Life Institute said Labour’s tactics would have James Connolly “rolling in his grave”.
5. #GRANTS: Fianna Fáil has called for the new student grants body SUSI to be brought under the remit of the Ombudsman, as the body struggles to clear the backlog of applications from students seeking third-level maintenance grants. Thousands of students are still awaiting the payment of their grant, meaning they have not yet been able to pay their college registration fees.
6. #AFGHANISTAN: At least 10 young girls have been killed by a landmine explosion in eastern Afghanistan. The children were collecting firewood when one is thought to have accidentally struck a mine with her axe.
7. #INDIA: The funeral is due to take place today of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who worked at the hospital in which Kate Middleton was being treated and who was found dead days after taking a prank call from an Australian radio show. The nurse will be buried in a small town in her native India. Several papers report details of Saldanha’s final messages, in which she allegedly blames the DJs for her death.
8. #SATISFACTION: A new survey of small and medium-sized businesses shows that small firms remain broadly dissatisfied with the government’s performance. The ISME survey shows a moderate increase in satisfaction in the last quarter, however, led by growing approval of how the government is dealing with the Troika.
9. #SCENIC ROUTE: Taxi drivers who bring customers on the so-called ‘scenic route’, hoping to get an extra few quid out of them, will find themselves with major fines under new legislation. The government’s bringing in new rules for the taxi sector, including a clause that requires drivers to take the shortest, cheapest route from A to B or face fines of up to €2,500.
- Over on DailyEdge.ie: Which star has robbed Tubridy’s Toy Show jumper? It’s The Dredge…