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Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

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

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie appears on all the front pages of the local papers after her decision to step down.

"Sincere, decent and focused, but she wasn't a leader" is the Belfast Telegraph political editor Liam Clarke's opinion of the SDLP leader.

The News Letter and Irish News both report that she will also step down from her Stormont seat, to concentrate on her Westminster role.

In the Irish News, reporter Diana Rusk reports that Ms Ritchie was already facing a leadership challenge from her deputy Patsy McGlone, but wonders where it leaves what she calls the SDLP's "ambitious rising star" Conall McDevitt.

But the paper leads with the "return of the 100% mortgage". One bank is offering that option to customers in full-time employment. And they will not require a deposit either.

Meanwhile, the figures in the News Letter concern the welcome news for students - and parents - that university fees in Northern Ireland will remain static. But one local economist says the figures "don't add up".

Elite schools?

Education is also the theme elsewhere, with the Prime Minister courting controversy.

We need "more elitism" in schools, according to Mr Cameron, reports the Daily Telegraph. That will fix "broken Britain", but it is "first class for all" in schools that he is calling for and minimum entrance requirements for teacher training courses - at least a 2.2 degree.

And there are also reports on the calls for universities to cut fees, to recruit more students in both the Telegraph and Guardian .

The Times is reporting on figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development -growth in the British economy this year is predicted to be less than 1%.

The Mirror says the forecast "sets out in stark statistics the need for a Plan B" and calls on ministers to change their economic policies.

Elsewhere, the outcome of the French court case against British fashion designer John Galliano is slammed by the Sun . It is angered by what it sees as the leniency of the sentence for making anti-Semitic remarks.

It is "a slap on the wrist", it says, with a suspended fine of 6,000 euros and a bizarre one euro damages to be paid to each of his three victims.

Costs in court are one of the themes in the papers in the Republic of Ireland.

The Republic's government is set to pay out more for the Catholic Church's legal fees -to the tune of 35m euros, says the Irish Times. Religious orders are set to be reimbursed up to that amount, to meet outstanding legal costs, it reports. Some 22m euros has already been paid out on third-party legal costs.

Sinead's search

Meanwhile strong opponent of the church, singer Sinead O'Connor is under the spotlight in the Irish Independent . The vocalist will be accompanied by a personal bodyguard at all times, as she searches for a suitor at the Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival this weekend, the paper says.

She will be taking her two male nannies with her as well. They are also said to be on the search for romance with Irish girls.

Finally, on a musical theme, the diva way of welcoming your family into the world.

Singer Mariah Carey had very definite ideas about the birth of her twins, according to the Daily Mail.

She played one of her own live recordings, so that they were born to wild applause at their delivery earlier this year. Two hours later, Ms Carey was fully made-up and dressed.

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