This month, the European Union swells by another 28 million people. With the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria into the European fold, that's maybe 28 million reasons to celebrate: there'll be bunting hung out on the streets of Bucharest and parties held in the courtyards of Sofia. As two of Europe's poorest countries, their inclusion in the ranks of the western power structure holds innumerable benefits, not least roads, recognition, grants, travel access, but also a sundering of the Soviet past.
A friend from Northern Ireland, a journalist, called me late last week, as she does on different occasions, to chat about some new book, or album, or to dissect some recent political event.
Scannal, which looked back at the Catherine Nevin murder case, missed an opportunity to examine the loose ends seemingly neglected by the Garda, while Miriam O'Callaghan and Craig Doyle tested our patience on New Year's day.
And so the world awoke from its holiday slumbers to find that this monster of global proportions, this petty tyrant, had at last received his “just desserts”, not really from his own taunting people but at the hands of a foreign power.
The general election will be the major domestic news story of 2007.
They were all at it. The weeks before and after Christmas, each daytime news programme, from Morning Ireland to Drivetime, on RTÉ Radio 1 (which the public pays for through licence fees) was filled with mediocre reviews of the year. How much of the year gone by do we really want to hear about?
In British official 1976 documents released now under the 30-year secrecy rule, the acting British ambassador in Ireland in September 1976, John Hickman, complained to a senior Irish diplomat about the nature of Vincent Browne's alleged links with the Provisional IRA.
An eye for an iPod: For people who want to believe in the potential for new media technology to create democratic and occasionally corporate-evading outcomes, there was depressing news under the Christmas tree. Ditto for the far-louder chorus who keep telling us that capitalist markets create diverse products of great excellence at keen prices. (You know who you are, ye talking heads on health insurance, mobile phones, electricity, transport, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.)
Christmas is a special time for the Irish Daily Mail. Not only does the holiday provide plenty of opportunities to trumpet the nostalgic, conservative, narrow-minded views beloved by the paper, but it also plays directly into the Mail's unique selling points – the nurturing of a generalised state of anxiety about health and the identification of people to blame for stuff.
It's a time for family, to remember loved ones no longer with us, a time when families are coming home from abroad, a time for children, for pantomimes, for Grafton Street lights. Bertie Ahern can't remember who enjoyed it more, him or his children. So he told the nation in his ‘Christmas thoughts' slot on Drivetime with Mary Wilson (Weekdays 5-6.30pm, RTÉ Radio 1).