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Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

Journalist Fionnula Meredith takes a look at what is making the headlines in Tuesday's newspapers.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the future of emergency services as Lagan Valley Hospital's casualty unit shut its doors to patients at 20:00 BST last night.

It says the shutdown is likely to be the first of a series of radical changes to the way A&E services are delivered in Northern Ireland.

In its editorial the paper says that the NHS needs a cure not just more cuts. It is concerned that the health service will be "salami sliced" in an attempt to meet the budget, without a coherent strategy in place.

The Irish News claims that money is being wasted planning schools that may never be built. It says that bills totalling tens of millions of pounds are being run up in feasibility studies, consultants' fees, economic appraisals and land deals.

The paper says that as the education sector struggles with record cuts in public spending, there is no guarantee that building work will ever start. It claims that the amount wasted would pay for 15 new primary schools.

Over at the News Letter, there is good news for long-suffering Presbyterian Mutual Society savers - the cheques, totalling £232m, are finally in the post.

The Irish Times has questions about child protection.

The paper says that hundreds of urgent child protection reports are not being assessed or followed up, leaving vulnerable young people at risk of ongoing neglect or abuse.

Social workers have told the paper that they are being forced to ignore potentially serious reports of suspected abuse or neglect, due to heavy workloads and under-staffing.

In its editorial, the paper says that the Catholic church has been rightly criticised for its shocking failure to protect children. But if the church has a profound duty of care to children, the State's responsibility is even greater - and it is letting them down.

Phone hacking is still on several front pages.

The Independent focuses on the revelation that News International has ordered the mass deletion of hundreds of thousands of emails from its computer system in the past 18 months. The paper says the news has prompted concerns that vital evidence may have been lost to the hacking investigation.

The Daily Telegraph reports that News International is working to restore the back-ups of the email servers to help detectives establish whether any of the messages were relevant.

Elsewhere, the Daily Mail returns to its campaign to banish plastic bags. It says that Britain's coastline is awash with bags, with 70 littering every mile - a rise of more than 8% in a year.

The bags are used for twenty minutes on average but take up to a thousand years to degrade. They are harmful to marine animals and birds. The paper says the rise in littered bags is another sign of the damage caused by ministers' failure to enforce reductions.

And finally, the Daily Telegraph reports on a ding-dong over dancers' bells.

A group of Morris dancers were banned from a pub because the bells on their shoes broke its "no music" policy. The dancers had been performing in Durham and popped into the Swan and Three Cygnets for refreshment.

Troupe member Duggs Carre says his bells are only tiny, and when he sits still they don't make any sound at all.

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