Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories


Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at the morning papers.

Locally, the Irish News leads with the announcement of the new police and fire training college in Tyrone.

The paper calls it is "desperately needed good news for the construction industry" and says the project will be worth £139m. The story says the plan had been affected by a series of delays which at times left its future in doubt. But now the college will accept its first recruits in 2015.

The Belfast Telegraph leads instead with a report that MI5 is targeting well-known republicans in its investigation into the terrorist group Oglaigh na hEireann.

For the News Letter, the big story is that the Church of Ireland is to hold a major conference next spring in an effort to ease growing tensions over its approach to homosexuality. But the paper says conservative and evangelical members of the church plan to hold their own meeting on the issue next week.

Unusually, both the Irish Times and Irish Independent lead with an Irish Times opinion poll. It is a poll about the likely outcome of the presidential election in the Republic - and the shock finding, according to both papers, is that the independent candidate Sean Gallagher is now in second place behind the favourite, Michael D Higgins. It puts Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness in third place.

As the Irish Times reports, the poll contains bad news for Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell and the independent senator David Norris. Support for both has plummeted.

The Irish Independent says the findings will "send shockwaves through Fine Gael", because its candidate is now on only 9%. The only contender with less support, according to the poll, is Dana Rosemary Scallon - who is on 6%.

The death of Steve Jobs would have been a huge story for the papers in London, but the announcement came too late for their print edition.

His influence on all our lives is illustrated by the fact that the Daily Telegraph's online edition has been running a live blog, updating developments in the US every few minutes and collecting tributes from all over the world.

The Guardian uses his own words as an epitaph. It quotes him as saying: "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful - that's what matters."

In the print editions, the economy is a major talking point. The Telegraph reports that household spending is at its lowest level for 10 years. The Guardian says the economy "is flatlining". The Daily Mail says the latest figures show that the downturn is deeper than had been thought.

But there is better news in the Daily Express, which reports that the cheapest ever mortgages are on offer from some lenders, who are now confident that interest rates will not rise until next year at the earliest.

And finally, practicalities win out over sentiment as a pensioner organises his own memorial. James Campbell, who is 78 and lives in Northumberland, had always planned to have a memorial bench placed at his local bus stop after he died.

But he has decided to install it while he is still alive - so that he can use it himself. He tells the Daily Telegraph that he has arthritis and waiting for the bus used to hurt so much that he would just give up and take the car.

He has had the bench engraved with the words: James Campbell - in the departure lounge.

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