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Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

Journalist Fionola Meredith has a look at the morning papers.

One story dominates all the local papers - the conviction of Karen Walsh. The News Letter styles her as the Christmas Day killer, while the Mirror and the Sun call her the crucifix killer.

"Unholy, pitiless, beyond belief" - that's the headline in the Belfast Telegraph, which asks - will we ever know what drove Walsh to take the life of a God-fearing pensioner with a crucifix? Many papers repeat the grisly details of the case, but there are no answers to that question.

The Irish Times says that we may never know what possessed her because she pleaded her innocence in court, and therefore, offered no excuses.

The Irish News hopes that the guilty verdict may offer Maire Rankin's family some solace, after the prolonged ordeal of the trial, where they were forced to hear the horrifying details of the murder. It says that the life sentence tariff handed down should reflect the additional pain the family had to endure because of Walsh's claim of innocence.

Further developments in the race for the Presidency dominate the Dublin papers.

The Irish Independent says that independent candidate David Norris received a disability payment for 16 years while out of work as a Trinity College lecturer - even though he was a 'full time' senator for the entire period. Mr Norris has confirmed receipt of the payment, but would not say how much it was, or what his disability is.

Meanwhile, Miriam Lord in the Irish Times has an account of last night's presidential debate, chaired by Vincent Browne. Not sure about the X Factor, she says but they all had the Max Factor - primped and powdered to within an inch of their lives. Lord says that overall Michael D Higgins came across as the most reasoned and presidential, and seemed content to let the others slug it out.

A smiling Amanda Knox is pictured on many front pages. The Independent sums it up with its headline - "beaming Knox heads for home .... Leaving the Kercher family back at square one". The paper says that Knox flew out of Italy a free woman yesterday after four years in prison, leaving behind a divided public and angry prosecutors who vowed to appeal against her acquittal.

The Express describes Knox as "laughing all the way to the bank", claiming she is heading home to "a multi-million pound future".

But the key question was raised by the murdered student's brother, Lyle - if Amanda Knox and Rafffaele Sollecito did not murder Meredith Kercher, who did? As the Independent says, the exoneration leaves the family in limbo.

The Times says the case shows the Italian criminal justice system to be "farcically incompetent". The Guardian also has strong criticism of what it calls the "legal opera" of the Italian courts, and the Daily Telegraph calls the case "calamitously mishandled".

And finally, the Times reports on the invention of the Mumbai 'Spa Van'. The paper says the vehicle is the Mumbai elite's answer to appalling traffic congestion. Stressed bankers and Bollywood starlets have a new way of tackling the hellish commute - they can be ferried to and from home in the spa van, while being pampered with massages and manicures.

As the paper notes, it must be the only spa in the world to charge by distance rather than by the hour. There is just one problem. As one on-board masseuse notes, when you go over potholes, it can break your concentration.

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