Northern Ireland

What the papers say

newspaper title

Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at what is making the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.

As the Guardian reports, the MV Rachel Corrie was some way behind the other boats in the flotilla that was raided by Israeli soldiers and so avoided capture.

The paper says it is holding its course, despite a warning that it will be intercepted.

On board is the peace campaigner Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who tells the Belfast Telegraph that she plans to finish the journey. The paper says the vessel is heading for "a showdown" with Israel.

The Irish Times reports that the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, has warned of serious consequences if harm comes to any Irish citizen, but Israel refuses to give a guarantee that the Rachel Corrie will be given safe passage.

The Irish News says the reason Israel can afford to offend the rest of the world is simple - it is backed by the United States. It says President Obama must tackle what it calls the "Palestinian problem" or there will be more violence on sea and on land.

The Irish Independent says simply that the eyes of the world will be on how the people aboard the MV Rachel Corrie are treated.

FBI probe

Most of the papers report that President Obama has ordered an FBI investigation into BP's actions before the rig explosion that caused the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Independent says there are fears that the leak could continue until August as the company's share price continues to plummet. It points out that the firm has lost £42bn in value since April and that is causing alarm far beyond the oil industry.

The Times says its long-term credibility is now at stake, but the Daily Express goes further, saying that the company now has "the smell of death about it".

It believes pension funds will be hit badly by the sliding value of its shares.

The Daily Telegraph feels the company has handled the crisis badly in political and PR terms and needs to fight its corner much more effectively if it hopes to survive.

The News Letter leads with the relaxation of farm planning laws and says it has been welcomed by the Ulster Farmers' Union. It reports that the new measures, which will allow the opening up of a new building site on a farm every 10 years, have attracted widespread political support.

But it says conservationists have warned that Northern Ireland could end up like County Donegal, where the planning system has allowed bungalows to crop up around the countryside.

The paper also explores the counter-argument, that the new policy will allow farm families to continue to live and work in the communities where they grew up.

Bond magic

Many of the papers report that the ultimate James Bond car - the Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball - is up for sale for the first time in 40 years. It was bought in the 1960s for just £8,000.

The Times says the car has twin machine guns, revolving number plates, a smoke screen, a bullet-proof shield and tyre-shredding blades that emerge from the hubcaps.

But future passengers will be glad to hear that the ejector seat doesn't work.

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