The 9 at 9 In today’s 9 at 9: Price of ‘cheap’ alcohol to rise; Romney “trounces” Gingrich; Taoiseach is slammed over “offensive” comments.

EVERY MORNING, brings you nine things to know with your morning cup of coffee.

1. #MAD WITH BORROWING The Taoiseach has been slammed by the opposition over his comments yesterday that Irish people went “mad with borrowing” during the boom. Fianna Fáil said the Taoiseach was “taking one approach at home and another abroad” while Sinn Féin described the mark as “offensive”.

2. #ANGLO The Director of Public Prosecutions could bring the first charges in the investigation into alleged financial irregularities at Anglo Irish Bank within weeks, the Irish Independent reports today. The investigation has taken three years so far. But Justice Peter Kelly wants to ensure the entire investigation is finished before he brings any charges, the paper says.

3. #CHILDREN Children who have lots of extra curricular activities can end up damaging their school performance. That is according to the Economic and Social Research Institute’s survey of 9-year-olds, Growing Up in Ireland, which shows that the ‘hurried child’ can end up achieving low scores in reading and maths.

4. #DESIGNER DOGS ‘Designer handbag’ dogs are being dumped when owners get tired of them, the Daily Mail says today.  The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says that more dogs are being abandoned, and that people get animals and don’t budget for them. One dog was thrown out of a car at the side of the M50, while another was thrown into a skip.

5. #TIT BONHOMME Caithlin Ní Aodha, wife of Michael Hayes, the skipper from the Tit Bonhomme, has appealed for experienced search and rescue divers to join the search for her husband and his crewmate Saied Ali Eldin. The search is to intensify this weekend as weather conditions improve. The trawler sank 12 days ago.

6. #ALCOHOL Minister for Health James Reilly and Northern Ireland Minister for Health Edwin Poots, as well as Minister of State for Health Roisín Shortall told The Irish Times that they plan to increase prices for low-price, high-strength beers, cider and own-brand spirits. This is part of their strategy to tackle alcohol abuse on both sides of the Irish border. Dr Reilly said these were not ‘Nanny State’ decisions, while Minister Poots said it was to ensure there wasn’t a disparity between the cost of alcohol in Northern Ireland compared to the Republic.

7. #US 2012 Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich went head-to-head in a televised debate last night. Romney questioned Gingrich on illegal immigration and personal finance transparency, and The Guardian says he “trounced” his rival and showed a “pugnacious” side to his character that has rarely been seen so far.

8. #CANCER A scanner in Cork University Hospital has not been used for three years, meaning that cancer patients have to travel to Dublin for a PET scan, the Daily Mail and Irish Times report today. One patient, Martina Jones from Douglas, Cork, described the situation as “disgusting”. The HSE said the delay was due to the moratorium and difficulty recruiting specialised staff.

9. #IRAN Iran is ready to return to talks with the US and other world powers about its nuclear programme, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said. The country insists it will never give up uranium enrichment. Meanwhile, gunmen in Syria have kidnapped 11 Iranian pilgrims on the road to Damascus. Syria is Iran’s closest ally in the Arab world.

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