Never mind Nama, it's record-making mammas in the news. The Central Statistics Office reports 75,065 births last year, the highest number in over a century. Jack, Daniel and James are still in the top 10 names for baby boys. No Brians up there, though. But what's in a Nama? Any recovery plan proposed by the opposition would still smell as foul to taxpayers, suggests finance minister Brian Lenihan in his four-hour statement to the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service. Fine Gael's Richard Bruton sees Nama as a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, insisting it would be a "disaster for Ireland". But surprising light from yonder window breaks for the government – former FG leader Garret FitzGerald is greatly concerned at the consequences of rejecting Nama.
We need a hero. But maybe not quite in the form of Africa's longest-serving leader of the continent's most oil-rich country, portrayed by a young rider resplendent on a white charger. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, once famously dubbed by Ronald Reagan as 'the mad dog of the Middle East', celebrates 40 years in power since his self-styled 'revolution', or 'coup' to those elsewhere. A blow-up replica of the VW Beetle he used to drive as a youth isn't the only inflated aspect of a Vegas-style bash more associated with excesses in the Nevada desert than the Sahara. A pre-dawn feast at a military airbase is followed by a fly-past in which fighter jets from Italy and France take part. It's in marked contrast to 1986, when Reagan-ordered American fighter jets to drop bombs over Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 41 Libyans, including one of Gaddafi's daughters. Now Gaddafi's days in the political doghouse may be slowly drawing to a close.
'Welcome back, Ali O'Grady' isn't the sort of headline you see every day, but then who knew the great-grandfather of 'The Greatest' originally hailed from Co Clare? Families directly descended from grandpa Abe were among an estimated 10,000 fans who turned out to see three-times world heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali become the first honorary freeman of Ennis. News elsewhere that unemployment figures now tip the 440,000 mark doesn't dampen the enthusiastic greeting for a man whose own ancestor was forced to seek his fortune elsewhere over a century ago. The 67-year-old fighter's wife Lonnie said: "Now we know Muhammad is an Ennis man, we will be back."
Brian Cowen must hear those increasing rumbles in the political jungle, with the latest poll showing satisfaction with the government has sunk to an historically low 17%, and 75% of the electorate favour a change at the top. It's unfortunate timing for the taoiseach, coming after the launch of the government's second campaign on the Lisbon treaty and his insistence he won't resign if it is defeated again "because defeat is not an option"...
When people are in Europe, they expect the odd shower. So says Electric Picnic organiser John Reynolds on early forecasts for the upcoming festival... The Lisbon referendum is raising odd showers all of its own. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) announces it will leaflet every Irish home urging a No vote. Interfering? "We are unashamedly a pro-British party, but that doesn't make us anti-Irish," says UKIP leader Nigel Farage, asserting that Ireland must close the "open door" to immigrants, claiming "no one else would touch this issue with a barge pole". A barge pole would be handy to dent the arrogance. Even better, maybe we could persuade Ennis's first citizen to come back and put Farage straight.
The Late Late's big new hope, Ryan Tubridy, promises some changes tonight, such as the signature theme tune, now a "reworking of an old song". Post-show, he's planning an early start for Stradbally, hoping to hear Brian Wilson among others rework some old songs at Electric Picnic.
He might have better luck than Welly4U, a husband and wife duo hoping to sell some boots and brollies at the concert, who fell foul of "an opportunistic gang" who robbed their trailer. But Peter Lambe is suitably philosophical pre-Picnic. "I think the thieves just wanted the trailer. They will have got a surprise, opening it to find it filled with hundreds of pairs of wellingtons..."
"No I don't want the retarded baby, I want the other one"
Attributed to Sarah Palin by Levi Johnston, the father of Palin's daughter Bristol's son. In a highly critical Vanity Fair interview, he says she cuddled her grandson but ignored her own son Trig, who has Down's syndrome.