The bleak midwinter leaves parts of the country slip-sliding around because, say some local councillors, they don't have enough money to grit the roads and pavements. It's akin to a "slow burning major incident" says Professor Stephen Cusack, head of Cork University Hospital's emergency department, as hospitals see between five and 10 times the usual number of fractures and dislocations caused by icy falls.
No ice in Australia, now the number one emigration destination… but omigod, will transition-year students be happy if schools take up a Bord Fáilte plan to use them to fill the 20,000 empty hotel rooms built thanks to tax breaks? The tourism body has drawn up mind-expanding itineraries for students, offering an Irish alternative to the usual school trip to boring old places of educational interest such as London, Berlin, Prague, Paris and even Moscow and snowy St Petersburg.
To everyone's surprise, George Ivan Morrison III comes into this world, "the spitting image" of his daddy Van and the delight of his mum, Gigi (Lee), according to an unusually personal announcement on The Man's website.
Icy exchanges between Britain and China after the barbaric execution of heroin smuggler Akmal Shaikh, 53. The British man is killed by lethal injection as China shows no mercy, even though Shaikh has a lifelong history of bipolar disorder. Gordon Brown calls in the Chinese ambassador in London for a diplomatic dressing down, telling him how "appalled and disappointed" he is at the revolting punishment. For all its spin about its "transformation" towards transparency and democracy, China is indignant that any country should try to defend the life of one of its citizens: "Nobody has the right to speak ill of China's judicial sovereignty," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu spits back. "We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the groundless British accusations. We urge the British side to mend its errors and avoid damaging China-British relations."
Errors of a systemic kind are uncovered by the investigation into the Christmas day jet bomb as major questions are asked as to why underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was allowed to board a US plane even though the authorities had been warned of fears that he had been radicalised by his father. "It is becoming clear that the system… is not sufficiently up to date," says US president Barack Obama. "A systemic failure has occurred and I consider that totally unacceptable."
The grit still hasn't arrived in remote and not so remote areas of the south-west and north-west, where many villages are still iced in. It's not about money, says the National Roads Authority, but a shortage of rock salt.
It's not about money, says social and family affairs minister Mary Hanafin as she casts a cold eye on lone parents payments. The allowance won't be cut this year but, "on grounds of social policy", she's considering stopping it once a child reaches 13 years of age. The annual €2bn cost to the state isn't the real issue, says the minister. It's the fact that the payment is deterring women from forming lasting relationships and finding jobs. Practical help such as the provision of low-cost, quality childcare and education seem to be lower down the agenda.
It's all about money and how it was handled, says communications minister Eamon Ryan, who expects that rogue bankers who brought the economy to its knees will face the law in 2010.
Three guesses as to which will arrive first: the cut in welfare, the elusive grit or bankers' charges...
Cardinal Cahal Daly, the man credited with writing Pope John Paul ll's appeal to the IRA to lay down its arms – "On my knees, I beg you to turn away from the path of violence and to return to the ways of peace" – dies at the age of 92. The IRA declared a ceasefire during the Polish pope's visit in 1979. Two days after he left, the ceasefire ended.
Two days after the news of a new Van Junior makes headlines across the world, RTE radio's News at One reports that, oh boy, there is no baby joy. Van Morrison's friend and PR executive John Saunders, says that reports of the songwriter's renewed foray into fatherhood have been greatly exaggerated. A hacker has broken into the 64-year-old's personal website and posted a false claim. Van confirms he's very happily married to Michelle Rocca Morrison, with whom he has two children.
Goodbye noughties, hello teenies. A new decade is greeted with fireworks, frozen kisses, security fears and a blue moon. The blue moon, which happens when there's a full moon twice in one calendar month, coincides with new year celebrations across Europe, but also with high tide in Venice, leaving the celebrations rather soggy. Here, it's snow joke for partygoers who show true grit and endure a long walk home after taxis skid to a halt.
From Australia, there's a tip from the police on resolutions: "If you're one of these fools that can't handle their grog, make yourself a new year's resolution to grow up and behave yourself," says Michael Daley, party-pooping police minister of New South Wales.
"While it would be pleasant to have an odd drink oneself, I am concerned that we may have a ministerial visit either before or after the summer. For that we need liquor. Most Saudis expect to be served alcohol at diplomatic receptions"
Eamon Ó Tuathail, ambassador to Saudi Arabia, in a letter in 1977 released among the state papers, explains why he arranged for cases of whiskey and wine to be smuggled into the embassy in cargo marked "preserves and furniture"