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The 9 at 9 Nine things you need to know on what’s officially the most miserable day of the year: Cowen and Martin go head to head for the leadership of Fianna Fail; a Tyrone village mourns; and AIB launches investigation into how forged documents were allegedly used to claim a couple’s home.

Every morning brings you nine things you really, really need to know by 9am.

1. #FF HEAVE: Taoiseach Brian Cowen has tabled a motion of confidence in himself for tomorrow afternoon, as Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin breaks cover and declares he’ll oppose Cowen in a battle for the leadership. Last night Martin became the first cabinet minister to publicly call for Cowen to step down, insisting that the “very survival of the party is at stake”.

2. #MICHAELA: Thousands of mourners are expected to turn up for the funeral of Michaela McAreavey, which is to take place at 12.30 today in the Tyrone village of Ballygawley. Meanwhile, it’s emerged that her killers may not face a murder trial, and the charges could be reduced to unlawful killing, the Irish News reports.

3. #AIB: AIB is conducting an investigation into how forged documents were allegedly used to claim security over the family home of a couple, who borrowed €120,000 to finish work on an investment property, the Irish Examiner reports. The couple signed the loan agreement on 8 September 2008, but claim new ‘altered’ documents were produced on 23 September – giving the bank security over their investment property and their family home, without their knowledge. AIB later claimed that it “didn’t know” how the new credit agreement had been produced.

4.#MORTGAGE HIKE: Thousands of homeowners could be pushed into mortgage arrears as a new round of mortgage hikes takes hold, the Irish Independent reports.

5. #GE11: Banking experts Peter Mathews is to run for Fine Gael in the election in Dublin South or Dun Laoghaire. Speculation is continuing about whether David McWilliams will also run, the Irish Independent reports.  Michael McDowell has declined to comment on whether he’ll run, it’s reported.

6. #BANKS: Irish banks are running out of collateral they can use to borrow from the ECB, and are turning to the Central Bank on an ‘unprecedented scale’, the Telegraph reports.  The latest data shows that Anglo Irish Bank and other lenders borrowed €51 billion from the Central Bank by the end of December, “under an obscure progamme listed in the balance sheet as ‘other assets’.” This is in addition to €132 billion in loans from the ECB itself, which is the figure normally tracked by analysts – and already accounts for 24 per cent of all ECB lending. The actions of our Central Bank are authorised by Frankfurt, but “fall into a grey area of monetary policy since they appear to involve creation of money outside the normal control of the ECB’s governing council.”

7. #HEAD SHOPS: A loophole in the legislation means head shops are able to rebrand themselves as ‘grow shops’ selling the specialised equipment needed to grow cannabis plants, the Irish Times reports.

8. #GOLDEN GLOBES: The Social Network and Glee were the main winners at last night’s Golden Globes. Colin Firth was named best actor for his role in The King’s Speech. But claims that the wartime monarch portrayed by Firth in the film had Nazi sympathies may dampen his Oscar hopes.

9. #MISERY GUTS: Today is officially the most miserable day of the calendar year, according to the Sun. The factors contributing to the general air of gloom are work woes, poor weather, fading Christmas memories and unpaid credit card bills.

Here at we’ll be doing our bit to look on the bright side. If you’ve got a photo that makes you smile, send it to us at

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