Northern Ireland

What the papers say

Newspapers

Journalist Keith Baker takes a look at what is making the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.

Dramatic pictures on the front page of the Irish News taken from footage of a car bomb exploding outside Strand Road police station in Londonderry earlier this month.

The video was filmed by a local businessman who posted it on the internet.

The paper says it shows just how close passers-by came to being killed, with a pedestrian and motorists passing the car bomb eight minutes before it detonated.

The main story in the News Letter and Belfast Telegraph is the suspension of the top official at the Department of Regional Development.

The row centres on a letter sent to the Public Accounts Committee looking into the affairs of Northern Ireland Water.

The Irish News says Paul Priestly's career lies in tatters.

Pumped

The Belfast Telegraph says it would be wrong to jump to any conclusions until the matter is investigated properly, but all of this shouldn't be allowed to muddy the waters.

The main issue is Northern Ireland Water itself and whether the public got value for the millions of pounds of taxpayers' money pumped into it.

A four-letter word features prominently in the cross-channel papers: cuts.

"A bonfire of the benefits," is a phrase used in headlines in both the Times and the Daily Mail, describing government plans to cut the welfare system.

The Times writes of claims that David Cameron is breaking election pledges.

An official tells the Mail the days of universal state handouts are over. "The well is dry", he says.

And of course the papers are taking stock of the Coalition's first 100 days.

'Irksome comedy sidekick'

David Cameron tells the Sun he's on a lightning mission to reform Britain while the Coalition is still riding the crest of its popularity.

Columnist Marina Hyde writes in the Guardian about his relationship with Nick Clegg.

She thinks it's all like a buddy movie that's losing the script, saying Mr Cameron has improved in stature but Mr Clegg has ended up the irksome comedy sidekick.

A comment in the Independent says Mr Cameron looks like a prime minister, sounds like a prime minister and acts like a prime minister - "it's just such a shame that so many of his policies stink".

But a poll in the Guardian indicates that the public are largely behind the government's austerity measures.

Two film stars are in the news.

Michael Douglas is featured in several of the tabloids with the news that he's having treatment for a tumour in his throat.

"I'll beat this," is the headline in the Mirror.

There's speculation that that he might never act again, while the Mail says he might lose his voice.

Strong brand

The Dublin papers have pictures of Maureen O'Hara celebrating her 90th birthday at home in Glengarriff, County Cork.

The Irish Times says that despite the passage of time, she still looks a Hollywood star.

The head of the local tourist association says her brand is as strong as ever.

Finally, which is the best country in the world? The answer, according to the Times, is Finland.

This is the verdict of a panel of experts assembled by Newsweek magazine.

They measured countries according to education, health, quality of life, their economy and political environment.

By the way, the UK came in at 14th.

The Finns are over the moon. One local journalist says that's because they normally have low self-esteem. And he says the important thing for some people was not winning, but beating Sweden.

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