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The 9 at 9 Nine things you need to know by 9am: Deadlines loom for would-be Fianna Fail leaders, for a final date for General Election 2011 – and for the person who wants to be the one to flick the ‘crush’ switch on Sean FitzPatrick’s BMW.

Every morning, brings you nine things you really need to know to kickstart your day.

1. #FF LEADERSHIP Micheal Martin is the frontrunner in the Fianna Fail leadership race as the deadline for nominations draws close. Martin believes he has a majority of parliamentary party voters behind him but Brian Lenihan also believes he is a major contender. Eamon O Cuiv and Mary Hanafin look likely to remain the only other nominees before the lunchtime deadline after Conor Lenihan declared he would not run late yesterday evening. He has pledged his support to his brother Brian.

2. #GE11 The date for the general election may be brought forward. Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told The Week in Politics last night that he believed the country could well go to the polls earlier than the March 11 date set out by Brian Cowen on Thursday last, once the Finance Bill has been passed. According to the Irish Independent, dates  such as March 4, February 25 and even February 18 were being tossed around by observers last night.

3. #CAR CRUSH Another deadline closes at 4pm today. That’s when the last bid will be made on Ebay to be the person to flip the ‘crush’ switch on Sean FitzPatrick’s BMW. So far, bids have reached €5,200 – all proceeds will go to The Samaritans.

4. #ON THE PISTE Trinity College Dublin have confirmed that they are investigating alleged bad behaviour by Irish students in the French ski resort of Les Deux Alpes. The students were alleged to have painted swastikas on the walls of ski chalets, burned and smoked €50 notes and three male students were reported to have walked naked into a female student’s room. The Irish Daily Mail is today saying a number of UCD students were also on the trip.

5. #TEACHERS Secondary school teacher unions are to hold a second ballot on the Croke Park Agreement after the Department of Education made ‘clarifications’ on terms of the agreement. Members of the TUI and the ASTI voted against the Agreement the first time round.

6. #ROAD DEATHS Sunday is the most dangerous day on the roads – it is the day when drivers are most likely to be killed, according to figures in a Government report.

7. #CF All newborn babies born in Irish hospitals will now be tested for cystic fibrosis before the summer. Ireland has one of the highest rates of cystic fibrosis in the world.

8. #ISRAEL Reactions to the results of an Israeli investigation into the Israeli storming of the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship bringing aid to Gaza last May have been polarised. The probe cleared the Israeli army and government of all blame but this finding has been rejected by Turkey.

9. #COPY KATE A Sligo girl can now charge up to €700 a day pretending to be Kate Middleton. Collette Mullarkey – who is also a Riverdance performer – has found her stock has risen since Middleton got engaged to the British Prince William.