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Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

Journalist Liz Kennedy looks at what's making the headlines in Thursday's papers...

Money going up in smoke, it seems. £50million is what the Belfast Telegraph says was the "shocking cost" of fighting 20,000 arson attacks in just 19 months.

That's what fire chiefs have estimated. And if those figures are too much to take in, that is about £90,000 a day.

The paper says there are demands for a more hard-line approach to the arsonists, with South Down MLA Jim Wells claiming culprits should be jailed.

And suspected benefit cheats are under scrutiny. Twelve tip-offs a day are coming from the public, says the Irish News, about people suspected of "doing the double". There were 11,000 reports of alleged dole and benefit cheating in the last financial year.

Pressure is mounting on republicans, reports the News Letter, on a number of issues, including what the paper says is "rewriting" the past and amid allegations of special treatment for Sinn Fein, with public funds being used - says the paper's political correspondent - to support the party opting out from using civil service drivers.

And in the Republic, the issue of candidates for the Irish presidency continues to rumble on. The Irish Times reports the division in Fianna Fail, that it seems to have caused, with leader Micheal Martin and deputy Eamon O'Cuiv looking at odds with one another.

The party has now supported "by consensus" their leader's decision not to field a candidate for the post. It's not popular with Mr O'Cuiv, who is the grandson of Taoiseach and third President of Ireland Eamon de Valera.

The Irish Independent takes a look at how banks are dealing with mortgage debts and negative equity in the south, in what it calls "the home loan crisis."

And the paper's found out that one bank at least is not pursuing customers, who have sold their homes at a loss and now cannot make up the shortfall. Others are allowing negative equity debts to be transferred to a new mortgage, in "secret deals" that can't be advertised.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon is in the headlines again. The Lurgan man is said to be "raging" after the "not proven" verdict in Edinburgh on Thursday, when what the Daily Mirror calls "thug" John Wilson admitted to "lunging" at Neil Lennon.

He was convicted of breach of the peace, but cleared by the jury of making a sectarian remark. The paper says the outcome has sent "shockwaves" through the legal system.

Elsewhere, defence cuts are examined. The Guardian says the Gurkhas and the RAF will take the brunt of the cuts being announced later. And it carries a picture, as does the Times of two Royal British Legion standard bearers at Wootton Bassett, as the town that has mourned the repatriated war dead since 2007, gives up that role. "It was a very beautiful thing," said David Cameron.

Young people concern the Independent and issues to do with the confidentiality of research. The world's biggest tobacco company is said to be seeking to force Stirling University to reveal full details of its research into teenagers' smoking habits.

Finally, having yoghurt for breakfast could be even better for you than you thought, according to Irish scientists.

And the Daily Mail has the research, showing that the good bacteria in this type of dairy product is not only good for digestion, but also staves off stress and depression.

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