Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories


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

A tragic story fills the front page of the Irish News.

It reports how a young couple from west Belfast took their own lives within a week of each other. Now, says the paper, their fathers have spoken out in the hope of saving others. Suicide can happen to anyone, says the headline.

There's another appeal by a grieving family on the front of the News Letter. An inquest heard how Irwin Roulston, a farmer from Strabane, fell and suffered head injuries while trying to move heavy bales of hay.

His wife tells the paper that people should be aware of the dangers on farms, and she does not want any other family to go through what she has suffered.

The biggest headline in the Belfast Telegraph goes to an Audit Office document which suggests that the Policing Board awarded contracts to lawyers without going through a tendering process. The paper says the contracts in question were worth nearly £700,000.


On A-level results day, education is a major talking point.

The Independent talks of a growing crisis for the UK's young people. It says more than 200,000 of them will fail to obtain a university place, while one person in five in the 16 to 24 age group is out of work.

The Times says a scramble for university places begins on Thursday, with students abandoning the notion of a gap year to beat the rise in tuition fees. It says so many have applied that even those with good grades will miss out. The paper carries a 24-page guide to coping with the clearing system.

The Daily Telegraph's supplement runs to a remarkable 56 pages. Its main story quotes the higher education minister, David Willetts, as saying that students who take tougher subjects like science and maths should be given priority for university places.

The Belfast Telegraph has words of comfort for anyone who doesn't achieve the expected grades. One set of exam results is not the end of the world, it says.

The Irish Independent reports that the government in the Republic is considering "drastic measures" to reduce spending on education, including raising the school starting age to five, instead of four. The paper says the measure would lead to "chaos" for parents, who would have to make childcare arrangements for an extra year.

'Disastrous dates'

The Irish Times says teachers will oppose the government's wider plans for the education system, including unannounced inspections which would allow the authorities to obtain a better picture of the standards of teaching.

Finally, an account of how stories about disastrous first dates became a sensation on Twitter.

It all started with Rhodri Marsden, the keyboard player with the band Scritti Politti, who posted a brief description of a bad date.

But, as the Daily Telegraph reports, he soon discovered that he was far from alone as the topic went viral.

One woman told how a first date ended when the man said he had to get home because there was a piece of chicken going off in his fridge.

Another conversation in a restaurant went: "Seeing as I'm paying, we won't have starters and we'll stick to tap water."

But perhaps the best of the paper's selection is the woman who said: "Met guy at his flat. He opened the door in blue check dressing gown with an electronic tag on his ankle and said 'shall we just stay in?'"

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