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The 9 at 9: Saturday

Nine things you need to know before 9am including: Preparations underway for Obama visit; Garret FitzGerald to lie in repose in Dublin today; thousands protest in Spain; and the end of the world, or not.

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

1. #OBAMA IN IRELAND With US president Barack Obama arriving on Monday morning, Dublin city centre has more traffic restrictions in place ahead of the rally to be held on College Green. More details of the garda traffic plan are expected today. Meanwhile the Irish Independent reports that Obama’s speech will focus on the unique US-Irish relationship whilst the Irish Times says that Westlife, Imelda May and Jedward, along with actors Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea and Gabriel Byrne will warm up the expectant crowd at the rally.

2. #GARRET FITZGERALD The two-time former Taoiseach is to lie in repose at the Mansion House in Dublin today with the public given an opportunity to pay their respects between 11am and 7pm. There will be no parking on Dublin’s Dawson Street. The removal takes place this evening to the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook. Dr FitzGerald will be laid to rest tomorrow.

3. #ROYAL VISIT Ireland bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth yesterday after a historic visit to the Republic which may perhaps be most remembered for yesterday’s warm reception at the English Market in Cork and the more relaxed security as she met members of the public on the Grand Parade. The British ambassador to Ireland told the Irish Times the visit had “gone better than we hoped.”

4. #IMF As former chief Dominic Strauss-Kahn settles into his new surroundings after being released from prison on bail the International Monetary Fund has said it will accept nominations for his successor from Monday with the hope that the new chief will be in place by the end of June. The French finance minister Christine Lagarde remains the favourite although former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is another to throw his hat into the ring.

5. #SPAIN Tens of thousands of protesters in Spain have defied a government ban and camped out overnight in a square in the capital of Madrid as they express their anger at the government’s economic policies. They have occupied the square for the past week and despite a ban imposed by the electoral commission, the police did not look to move the protesters when it came into effect at midnight, BBC reports. Unemployment in Spain is at a massive 21 per cent.

6. #REFUNDS Thousands of homeowners are to be compensated by banks according to the Irish Independent which reports that the financial institutions made errors with mortgage interest rates. AIB is among those in the firing line with the bank saying it would refund customers affected and pay them compensatory interest. The Irish Times reports that an inspection by the Central Bank revealed interest level errors across six financial institutions with mortgage and deposit accounts affected.

7. #PAKISTAN Fifteen people have been killed after a tanker carrying oil for NATO forces in Afghanistan exploded in northwestern Pakistan earlier today . BBC reports that the tanker was hit by a bomb and that separately at least 14 other NATO tankers have been damaged in another attack near the border town of Torkham.

8. #LEINSTER The biggest event in club rugby takes place at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff today as fit again Brian O’Driscoll and Leinster look for a second Heineken Cup success in three years. Thousands of fans have made the pilgrimage to Wales for the clash with Northampton Saints, among them our reporter Niall Kelly who is live blogging his epic journey via bus and sea.

9. #RAPTURE So the end of the world has so far not come to pass which is a relief to many of you we’re sure. Followers of California fundamentalist Christian Harold Camping have spent thousands of dollars putting up 2,200 billboards in cities  across the US to warn others that “the Rapture” is coming today Saturday, 21 May, 2011. But atheists have decided to party instead, reports the BBC. In any case it’s an excuse for a blast of REM…

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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