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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C

The 5 at 5 5 minutes, 5 stories, 5 o’clock.

Every afternoon, brings you 5 things you really need to know by 5pm.

1. #NO SURRENDER: The government remains defiant on all fronts today, rejecting calls from the opposition to resign, while again holding firm on Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax rate.

Opening Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 this morning, Brian Cowen said government talks with the EU and IMF were “constructive”, and rejected Labour calls for the government to step down, saying it still had a job to do in finalising the four-year budget package and in passing next month’s Budget.

Fine Gael, meanwhile, will put a motion before the Dáil next week in an attempt to safeguard the rate.

2. #GOOD NEWS: The economy seems to be looking up, however. New stats from the Central Statistics Office show that Ireland’s trade surplus grew in September, on the back of an increase in the volume of exports.

The trade surplus – the amount by which Irish exports exceeded imports – reached €3.91 billion for the month of September, up from €3.8 billion in August. Perhaps unusually, though, Ireland’s third largest export partner is… Belgium, to which we sent €8.66bn of exports in the first eight months of the year.

3. #BAD NEWS: Of course, for every yin, there is a yang. AIB announced today that it had seen €13bn taken out of its deposit book so far this year, with depositors evidently not believing that the government bank guarantee was enough to ensure the safety of their cash.

When combined with the news last week that Bank of Ireland had seen €10bn in deposits taken off its books in the third quarter alone, the gravity of the liquidity problems facing the Irish banks – as the IMF talks continue – is underlined.

4. #NEW ZEALAND: 27 coal miners are missing after an overnight explosion at a mine on New Zealand’s South Island.

Staff at the Pike River mine are understood to be trapped underground, but time is running out to save them: the blast appears to have knocked out the ventilation at the mine, meaning that not only is the air supply limited, but any drilling to free the trapped men could ignite trapped gas and cause another blast.

5. #THAILAND: Finally this week, police in Thailand have uncovered the remains of more than 2,000 foetuses in a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, thought to be from illegal abortions carried out in the country.

Two temple workers and a woman suspected of collecting the foetuses from illegal abortion clinics have been arrested. The remains were found after temple workers reported a foul smell shortly after the temple’s furnace broke down.