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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C

The 9 at 9 Nine things you need to know by 9am: the bailout’s on (or maybe it’s not); Sarah Palin’s new reality show airs in the US – and do the unemployed really earn more than the average industrial wage?

Every morning, brings you nine things you really need to know with your morning coffee.

1. #BAILOUT: Confusion surrounds reports on the status of Ireland’s discussions on a possible bailout. Bloomberg reported last night that the Department of Finance has admitted that talks on debt problems are on ongoing, while the BBC says “it’s not a matter of whether but when” a bailout happens – a claim which reportedly enraged the Taoiseach. However, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said last night such talks are “fiction” and the Department of Finance is still insisting (to Irish media organisations, in any case) that it has not applied for financial assistance.    Meanwhile, the Irish Independent reports that Minister Brian Lenihan may ask fellow European finance ministers in Brussels tomorrow if it would be possible for the banking sector alone to access money from the rescue fund.

2. #ARREARS: Struggling homeowners are carrying mortgage arrears of up to one eighth the original size of their loan, according to a survey of 500 cases carried out by the ESRI and reported in today’s Examiner. Three quarters of repossession cases relate to people who borrowed late in the boom.

3. #SPEED CAMERAS: Ireland’s network of new speed cameras comes into operation today.

4. #WELFARE STATE: Figures from the State’s business advisory Fórfas reveal that an unemployed couple earn more in benefits than workers on the average industrial wage. Benefits “have become so generous that employers say even vacancies offering €15 an hour have become hard to fill”, the Irish Daily Mail reports. The newspaper reports that an unemployed couple on the dole with three children, who avail of jobseeker’s benefit, rent allowance and children’s allowance, are entitled to €40,223 per year – the equivalent to a gross income of €53,000. By contrast, the average industrial wage is €33,000 before tax.

5. #CHURCH ABUSE: Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the Pope’s envoy investigating child abuse, has been criticised by victims of abuse after he began his visit to Dublin by celebrating mass with two bishops named in the Murphy report.

6. #BURMA: Aung San Suu Kyi says she will fight for human rights and the rule of law in Burma.

7. #ONLY A MATTER OF TIME: The first episode of Sarah Palin’s new reality TV show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska, aired last night, showing the former Republican vice-presidential candidate climbing a section of the highest mountain in North America, leaping across dangerous crevices, watching bears in the wild, salmon fishing, shooting a gun and flying in a sea plane..

8. #USA: SWAT teams have rescued a 13 year old girl in Ohio who was found bound and gagged in a basement, a week after she was kidnapped along with her 10-year-old brother, her mother and her mother’s friend. A 30-year-old Mount Vernan man, who was in the house where Sarah Maynard was being held, has been arrested and is due in court today.

9. #NOT JUST AN AVERAGE SINGER: Singer James Blunt has claimed he “prevented World War 3” when he refused an order to attack Russian troops when he was a British soldier in Kosovo.