Morning top 5: Bashar al-Assad says Trump could be 'natural ally' for Syria; Martin McGuinness to address PAC

The top stories this Wednesday morning...

President Bashar al-Assad says Donald Trump would be "a natural ally" of the Syrian government, if he follows through on promises to destroy ISIS.

The Syrian president said he was adopting a wait and see approach.

In an interview with Portugal's RTP, he said it was unclear if the President-elect could carry out his promises in the face of domestic opposition in the US.

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A group promising to reform the TUI teachers union is being formally launched today.

"Grassroots TUI" wants them to pull out of the Lansdowne Road Agreement and take a tougher stance with government over pay.

They are also angry about having to pass picket lines of their ASTI colleagues.

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The North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will appear before the Public Accounts Committee today in relation to the controversy over NAMA's Project Eagle.

The committee has been examining the sale of NAMA's northern loan book, in the wake of a critical report by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The C&AG says NAMA may have lost the tax payer around €200 million by selling the loans too cheaply.

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A British Supreme Court judge has suggested that a simple act of the country's parliament may not be enough to trigger the process of leaving the European Union.

It comes as the court is set to hear the UK's case for leaving next month - after the high court ruled Article 50 cannot be instigated without MPs having their say.

However a judge has hinted that "comprehensive" legislation could be needed - which could delay the process by months, maybe even years.

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The group representing nursing homes says they have offered up to a thousand beds to the HSE to alleviate overcrowding this winter.

The body says they are lying empty - and could be used to take pressure off hospitals.

It comes as figures from nurses showed there were almost 500 people on trolleys waiting on beds yesterday.