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The 9 at 9: Wednesday

Nine things to know by 9am: Budget may introduce charges for medical cards, plans to burn Bank of Ireland bondholders, and no more ‘Six Degrees of Separation’

Image: Shayne Kaye via Flickr

EVERY MORNING, TheJournal.ie brings you nine things you need to know before 9am…

1. #BUDGET 2012: It’s now 13 days to go until the Budget is announced – but the rumours continue to circulate. Last night health minister James Reilly held meetings with the Fine Gael and Labour parliamentary parties – where he told TDs he was considering bringing in a €50 application fee for medical cards, as well as outlining other significant cuts to the health service. The proposal is reported in all of the broadsheets.

2. #RTÉ: Pat Rabbitte has admitted there are “serious issues” about the Prime Time programme which libelled Fr Kevin Reynolds, after calling for an independent inquiry into how the programme was aired. Speaking on Morning Ireland, Rabbitte said RTÉ only “got” the seriousness of the situation in the aftermath of the programme being broadcast. The cabinet yesterday agreed to seek an independent inquiry into the affair.

3. #BONDHOLDERS: Finance minister Michael Noonan has this morning announced plans to burn junior bondholders in Bank of Ireland to the tune of 100 per cent. The outstanding bondholders – whose bonds are worth around €400m – have so far refused to agree a deal with the government over an agreed write-down. The bank still needs to raise €350m in capital under the March stress tests – and doing so would completely wipe out the need for a public bailout.

4. #COURT OF AUDITORS: The chief civil servant at the Department of Finance will today face scrutiny from MEPs about his performance, as he goes forward for nomination to the EU’s top auditing body. Kevin Cardiff is likely to be grilled on the €3.6bn error in last year’s public accounts – but will not be quizzed by his chief critic, UKIP’s Marta Andreasen, who will miss today’s meeting of the committee on Budgetary Control.

5. #EUROZONE: Angela Merkel has backed proposals which would give the European Union the right to veto the national budgets of EU member states if they breached European budgeting guidelines. Jose Manuel Barosso and Herman van Rompuy present plans for new EU financial oversight to MEPs today.

6. #LIBYA: The National Transitional Council has announced the new Libyan cabinet – which includes two Libyans based in Ireland. Dr Fathi al-Akkari of Tallaght IT will be nominated to the education ministry, while Dr Fatima Hamroush will be the new health minister.

7. #BADVERTISING: The advertising standards watchdog has upheld complaints against the makers of Hunky Dory’s crisps over that advertising campaign featuring Gaelic footballers – and complained that the ads are a repeat of the previous rugby ads which it also said were unacceptable. Largo Foods, who make the crisps, says it’s not bound by the finding – and would continue to run the ads.

8. #FRACKING: The Irish News reports that the Northern Irish energy minister Arlene Foster has granted a licence for gas exploration – using the controversial ‘fracking’ technique – in Co Fermanagh, just miles from the Cavan border. Opponents of fracking say it has major environmental implications.

9. #SIX DEGREES: The old anecdote that everyone in the planet is separated by ‘six degrees’ has been upgraded by academics in Milan – who say there are now only 4.74 degrees of separation. The reason? Facebook – which is leading to people becoming ‘Friends’ with others who they don’t really know otherwise.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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