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The 9 at 9: New Year’s Eve

Bertie Ahern announces his plans to step down from politics; The government considers lowering the age of consent; and water restrictions are eased in some parts of the country for New Year’s Eve.

Image: Eduardo via Creative Commons

Every morning, brings you nine things you really need to know with your morning coffee.

1. #BYE BYE BERTIE: Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has announced he will be stepping down from politics at the next general election.

In a speech to his local branch of Fianna Fáil, the O’Donovan Rossa Cumann, Ahern said that the move was based on an earlier decision that he would step down from politics at the age of 60.

The announcement brings an end to a 34-year Dáil career, which saw him serve as taoiseach three times.

2. # SHOOTING: A man who was shot in Finglas last night is in a critical condition in hospital.

The man, who is in his 40s, was shot three times at the Cappagh House pub on Barry Road in Finglas at about 8.30pm. The attackers fled the scene in a Volkswagen. Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

3. #CONSENT: The government is considering lowering the age of sexual consent to 16, from the current age of 17.

It is also proposing to introduce new laws for incest, raising the penalty for women who engage in incest to life from the current maximum sentence of seven years.

Ireland and Cyprus are currently the only European countries where the age of consent is 17.

4. #GUINNESS: Miranda Guinness, Countess of Iveagh, has passed away at the age of 70 following a long illness.

In August this year, members of the Guinness had gathered for a party in Dublin in celebration of her 70th birthday.

5. # WATER: Water restrictions are being eased by some local authorities across the country today, in response to the New Year festivities.

Some local authorities, however, will not be lifting restrictions. For more information, visit your local authority’s website:

Carlow County Council | Cavan County Council | Clare County Council | Cork City Council | Cork County Council | Donegal County Council | Dublin City Council | Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council | Fingal County Council | Galway City Council | Galway County Council | Kerry County Council | Kildare County Council | Kilkenny County Council | Laois County Council | Leitrim County Council | Limerick City Council | Limerick County Council | Louth County Council | Mayo County Council | Meath County Council | Monaghan County Council | North Tipperary County Council | Offaly County Council | Roscommon County Council | Sligo County Council | South Dublin County Council | South Tipperary County Council | Waterford City Council | Waterford County Council | Westmeath County Council | Wexford County Council | Wicklow County Council

6. # BLATHNAID: Gardaí are renewing their appeal for missing woman Blathnaid Timothy, who was last seen two weeks ago.

The 33-year-old was last seen getting into a dark-coloured taxi on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin. Gardaí have again asked for the taxi driver to come forward with information, adding that he may not have seen previous appeals if he had been away on holiday.

RTÉ reports that gardaí do not believe her disappearance involved any criminal activity.

Anyone with information should contact Harcourt Street Garda Station on 01-6669500.

7. # AUSTRALIA: Thousands more people in eastern Australia are preparing to flee their homes, as heavy flooding is set to continue.

Queensland’s premier, Anna Bligh, has said that the floods have affected about 200,000 people over an area larger than France and Germany.

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8. # RUSSIA: Several western countries have condemned the new six-year sentence imposed on former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky by a Russian court.

The US, UK and Germany criticised the decision to sentence Khodorkovsky, who is nearing the end of an eight-year sentence for tax evasion, to a further six years in jail for embezzlement and money-laundering.

The US said that the sentencing seemed to abuse Russia’s legal system, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “The impression remains that political motives played a role in the trial”. Meanwhile the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague called the move “retrograde”.

Russia has not yet responded to the comments but has dismissed previous criticism of Khodorkovsky’s verdict from western powers as interference.

9 #ITALY: Italy is set to join Ireland in the war against plastic bags by banning their use in shops from 1 January.

Starting tomorrow, only biodegradable, cloth or paper bags will be offered to shoppers – in a country that has one of the highest consumption of the bags in Europe.

Eva Alessi from the World Wildlife Fund told Euronews: “Every year each Italian uses 400 plastic bags and Italy in total is responsible for 25 per cent of all plastic bags that are used and produced in Europe.”

The BBC reports that Italians use 20 billion plastic bags a year – more than 300 per person.

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