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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C

The 9 at 9 In today’s 9 at 9: State funeral for Garret FitzGerald; final preparations for Obama; another volcanic eruption; elections in Spain; weak children; and the glory that was Leinster in Cardiff.

EVERY MORNING, brings you nine things you should know with your morning coffee.

1. #GARRET FITZGERALD The funeral of the former Taoiseach will take place in Dublin today. Thousands turned out in the city centre yesterday to pay their respects to Dr FitzGerald who died on Thursday and lay in repose at Mansion House. FitzGerald will be buried in a State funeral in Donnybrook beside his late wife Joan this afternoon. will be live-tweeting events.

2. #OBAMA VISIT Preparations are continuing for the visit of US president Barack Obama tomorrow with traffic restrictions in place across Dublin city centre, full details of which are here. Giant US aircraft arrived into Dublin yesterday carrying the helicopters, jeeps and limousines that will transport the presidential entourage, reports RTÉ.  Meanwhile the Sunday Times reports (subscription) that the visit could even boost Ireland’s campaign to secure a cut on its bailout interest rate.

3. #DERRY BLAST Politicians in Northern Ireland have condemned yesterday’s bomb blast in a bank in Derry which fortunately didn’t injure anyone but could have killed people according to police. RTÉ reports that first minister Peter Robinson has condemned the blast, blamed on dissident republicans.

4. #IMF It appears former UK prime minister Gordon Brown’s hopes of becoming the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are over after UK chancellor George Osborne gave his backing to the favourite, French finance minister Christine Lagarde. Osborne said that Lagarde was “far and away the outstanding candidate,” reports the BBC, effectively dismissing Brown, one of his predecessors as the Treasury. Ouch.

5. #VOLCANIC ERUPTION Iceland’s most active volcano, Grimsvotn, has started erupting. But don’t worry officials are saying it will not cause the air travel chaos that engulfed Europe in 2010 when plumes of volcanic ash erupted from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. “It can be a big eruption, but it is unlikely to be like last year,” an Icelandic geologist told the BBC. Phew.

6. #SPAIN Polls have opened in Spain for regional elections even as thousands of young protesters camp out in squares across the country. The governing Socialists are expected to suffer major losses in voting for city councils and regional governments with prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero being heavily criticised for high unemployment and a recession.

7. #BONUSES Government ministers are to impose a crackdown on bonus payments to the heads of commercial state companies. Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has written to the heads of ten semi-state companies to stress his belief that bonuses would be inappropriate in the current economic climate as key board meetings are convened to decide such bonus payments, the Sunday Business Post reports.

8. #WEAK CHILDREN A new reports indicates that children are becoming weaker, less muscular, and unable to do physical exercise because of computers replacing outdoor activity, according to The Observer. It cites a study of children in the UK which found for example that the number of sit-ups a 10-year-old can do declined by 27. 2 per cent between 1998 and 2008.

9. #LEINSTER ‘Miracle’ would perhaps not be overstating what happened in Cardiff yesterday as Leinster came from 17 points down to beat Northampton Saints and lift the Heineken Cup for the second time in three years. Our reporter Niall Kelly was there and is currently flying home he’s on such a high (Tell a lie, he’s actually on the ferry and bus). The Sunday Independent points out that the Blues turned around the 17 point half time deficit within 17 minutes, hailing it as the ‘Comeback of the Millenium’, while the Sunday Times hails an ‘epic revival’. All in all it was a rather great day for Irish rugby: