The 9 at 9 Nine things you need to know this morning…

EVERY DAY, brings you nine things you really ought to know with your morning cup of coffee.

1. #STATE PAPERS Bobby Sands reportedly offered to end his hunger strike as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher offered secret concessions to the IRA in order to end the hunger strikes at the Maze prison H Block in 1981. That’s according to documents released under the 30-year rule today. Many of the documents from the year concern the strikes at the prison in which ten men eventually died, Sands among them.

2. #ROADS Motorists could face 16 new penalty-point offences and fines next year according to the Irish Independent. Transport Minister Leo Varadkar is looking to bringing in new penalty points – including ones for drivers who put babies in rear-facing car seats beside them – by the end of 2012, the paper reports.

3. #NORTH KOREA As Kim Jong Un was anointed the Great Leader of North Korea the country warned that there would be no softening of its stance on South Korea. The communist state’s powerful Defence Commission said that the North will never deal with the South’s president Lee Myung-bak.

4. #SPAIN The new conservative government in Spain will unveil measures aimed at saving billions of euro today. The country is preparing for austerity amid a rising budget deficit and huge unemployment. It is one of those nations considered most at risk within the eurozone, Reuters reports.

5. #SMALL BUSINESS The Small Firms Association has said that while its members are confident in their outlook for their own business in the coming year, a permanent solution is needed to solve the eurozone debt crisis. In its end-of-year statement the SFA also says there needs to be a comprehensive enterprise and jobs support package to avoid another recession.

6. #JAMAICA Discontent with the state of the economy has led to the incumbent government being voted out of power. No, not Ireland but Jamaica where the opposition appears to have swept to power in general elections. It gives Portia Simpson Miller a second shot at the premiership having lasted just a year in office when she was first elected in 2006, AP reports this morning.

7. #NEW YEARS EVE Paul Brady and Damien Dempsey will be among those performing at Dublin’s College Green tomorrow night as part of a New Year’s Eve concert in the capital. It’s all part of a three-day festival which gets underway today which will include live music, street performances, a flea market and food stalls.

8. #UFOS The number of UFO sightings in Ireland has risen by around 70 per cent over the past three years, according to a report by Lyndsey Telford carried in some of today’s newspapers. Although most of those sightings are attributed to ball lightning and Chinese lanterns.

9. #JUNK FOOD Food campaigners in the UK have named Coca Cola and the makers of Tango, Chupa Chups lollipops and Nutella as being among ‘junk foods’ who make the dodgiest claims in their marketing, The Guardian reports. The Children’s Food Campaign cites a claim from Chupa Chips that its yellow lollipops are made from only real lemon juice when the juice content is just 3 per cent.

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