EVERY MORNING, TheJournal.ie brings you the nine stories you need to know before your morning coffee.
1. #AIR TRAVEL: If you were planning on flying across Europe today, you may wish to think again. The continent’s airports are all seeing some degree of disruption from heavy snowfall, with airports in London all posing particular difficulties for Irish passengers. Aer Lingus has already cancelled some Irish flights to London today.
2. #KNIFE ATTACK: A PSNI officer has sustained a knife wound to the head in Lurgan in the early hours of the morning. The man was wounded in the back of his head after intervening to stop another officer from being injured. His condition is described as stable, and a 41-year-old man has been arrested.
3. #HOSPITALS: A number of public hospitals are in breach of guidelines on how many private patients they can treat, the Sunday Business Post reports. It cites HSE stats which say that although private patients should make up between 20 and 30 per cent of a doctor’s workload, in one hospital in Limerick they account for almost half of patients.
4. #EXPENSES: Figures released by Brendan Howlin show that 27 independent TDs have received over €3.5 million in allowances – tax free – simply for getting elected without party support. The cash, unofficially known as the ‘party leaders’ allowance’, is intended to compensate TDs who don’t have a party back-up – but does permit them to spend the money on ‘entertainment’.
Incidentally: later today we’ll be telling you about a politician who received a handsome chunk of expenses last year – for a job he couldn’t possibly have fulfilled. Stay tuned.
5. #FLY THE FLAG: A new campaign is urging people to fly the Irish flag from their homes, cars, businesses and schools as a way of boosting Irish pride and rebuilding community spirit. Its founder has been telling us why.
6. #NEGATIVE EQUITY: Almost half of Irish mortgages are probably now in negative equity, following the publication of new Central Bank statistics published this week. Both the Sunday Business Post and Sunday Times note that the figures for 2010, when combined with the 16.7 per cent fall in property prices for 2011 recorded by the CSO, mean properties are worth €8.3bn less than the loans taken out on them.
7. #FIANNA FÁIL: The government has – again – ruled out changing the words of the national anthem to remove the phrase ‘Fianna Fáil’ from the national anthem. Michael Noonan says the Irish translation of the anthem, originally written in English, was made before the political party was set up.
8. #SKY: The Sunday Independent tells us how NAMA may have put Sky’s new 800 jobs in Dublin at risk – by insisting that it rent more office space than it actually needed. NAMA, it says, had wanted Sky to rent more than the 35,000 square feet it needed at Burlington Plaza in Dublin, and only the intervention of Richard Bruton was able to ensure Sky’s deal.
9. #SIX NATIONS: After France and England got their campaigns off to the best possible start, today attention turns to Dublin where Ireland will see revenge for their World Cup defeat to Wales. We’ll be liveblogging events from before kick-off at the Aviva Stadium – the game starts at 3pm – but in the meantime, join TheScore.ie’s open thread to discuss how you expect Ireland to perform.