EVERY MORNING, TheJournal.ie brings you the nine things you need to know as you begin your day.
1. #IMF: In its latest World Economic Outlook report, the IMF has cut its global growth forecast for this year and next - warning that government policies have failed to restore confidence. The Washington-based organisation also predicts that Ireland’s economy will be one of only a few in the eurozone to post growth this year and acknowledges the company’s “bumpy recovery”.
2. #BANK FEES: The seven Irish banks covered by the two guarantee schemes introduced by the government in 2008 and 2009 have so far paid €3.36 billion in fees to the Exchequer, new figures released by the Department of Finance have shown. More than €750 million was paid in fees by the institutions covered by the blanket guarantee introduced in September 2008 – which ran for two years – while €2.6 billion has been paid under a second guarantee.
3. #AGRICULTURE: Today more than 10,000 farmers are expected at a Dublin demonstration against possible cuts to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. The Irish Farmers Association has argued that farm incomes and profits were seriously eroded this year by poor weather and increasing input costs - and that farming schemes were disproportionately hit in the 2012 Budget.
4. #OMBUDSMAN: The annual report from the Ombudsman for Children, released today, has shown a large increase in the number of complaints to the office during 2011 – with almost half relating to education. Emily Logan says the report clearly shows the need for a statutory, independent oversight of public services with respect to the views of the child, reports RTÉ.
5. #DISABILITY ALLOWANCE: The expert advisory group on tax and social welfare advising the Minister for Social Protection has recommended that disability allowances to under-18s be cut in the upcoming Budget, the Irish Times reports. The Government was forced to U-turn on plans to cut the allowance in last year’s Budget due to strong opposition.
6. #LONGFORD: Residents of a Co Longford housing estate will meet with senior HSE officials today following an explosion at a house in the area, as well as several reports of noxious fumes at the location. There have been calls for the Gleann Riada estate to be evacuated over safety concerns – which engineers say have been caused by serious foundation faults in the area’s sewers, reports RTÉ.
7. #APRIL JONES: More than a week after the disappearance of Welsh five-year-old April Jones, locals released Chinese lanterns into the sky in tribute to her after her parents asked for people to remember their little girl. Police have now advised locals to prepare for the possibility that they might never find her, the Telegraph reports. Yesterday, Mark Bridger, 46, appeared in court on a number of charges, including abduction, murder, and the unlawful disposing of and concealing April’s body with intent to pervert the course of justice.
8. #GREECE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Athens today to hold meetings with the Greek government amid planned new anti-austerity protests. Security has been beefed-up for the visit, which will be Merkel’s first to the country since the economic crisis erupted more than two years ago and severe austerity measures were introduced.
9. #MEXICO: The leader of Mexico’s notorious Zetas cartel “may be dead” following a gun battle in the north of the country, navy officials have said. If true, the death of Heriberto Lazcano – nicknamed ‘The Executioner’ – would be a serious boon to president Felipe Calderon’s six-year war on the vicious drug cartels plaguing the country.