Northern Ireland

What the papers say

Newspapers

Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at what is making the headlines in Thursday's newspapers.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with some tough talking by the First Minister.

The paper says Peter Robinson is "on the warpath" over academic selection and endless budget dithering.

His target in both cases was Sinn Fein, and the Telegraph agrees with him - up to a point.

His call for action is laudable, it says in its main editorial, but he must follow up his speeches with deeds. Otherwise it's "just so much rhetoric".

The weather provides the dominant image for the Irish News.

It shows a Roads Service worker carrying a sign warning of floods.

But in its comment column, it also looks at the Stormont budget.

The paper says financial constraints may provide the opportunity to examine the need for all the different commissions established under the Good Friday Agreement.

Financial affairs

And it concludes that people's rights may be safeguarded just as well by merging some of the offices.

The News Letter also has some advice for the politicians at Stormont.

Job creation must be the top priority, it says. But its biggest headline goes to the news that six directors of the Presbyterian Mutual Society could face disqualification over the collapse of the institution.

The Irish Independent talks of "a last-ditch bid" by the government in Dublin to fund the banks and avoid a European bail-out.

The paper says ministers are hoping to borrow money, backed by a guarantee from the European Central Bank.

Such a move, it says, would avoid the politically damaging prospect of a loss of sovereignty by the government over its own financial affairs.

That is an issue taken up by the Irish Times in its main comment column.

Having obtained political independence from Britain, it says, Ireland may now have to settle for a bail-out from Europe "with a few shillings of sympathy from the UK chancellor on the side".

Its anger boils over in the final paragraph of the column.

"To drag this state down and make it again subject to the decisions of others is an achievement that will not soon be forgiven," it says. "It must mark, surely, the ignominious end of a failed administration."

Unusually, the issue also crops up in comment columns in London, thanks to the controversy generated by the chancellor's offer of help.

Some Conservative MPs have expressed anger that Britain should provide loans or join an international bail-out, but the Mail and the Mirror believe it would be the right thing to do.

The Mail says that to ask British taxpayers to help bail out a bankrupt Irish financial system may seem pretty rich.

Banksy

But the harsh reality is that Britain's banks have lent £140bn to Ireland, and the country accounts for 7% of UK exports.

The Mirror also makes the point that the Irish Republic is Britain's biggest trading partner, an economic ally of great importance and a nation whose prosperity is bound to the UK. What happens in Dublin, the paper says, affects Durham, Dundee and Derby.

Finally, one of Britain's best known artists has entered a competition - for the country's worst art.

Banksy - best known for his graffiti or guerrilla art - has submitted an entry for this year's Turnip Prize, run by a pub owner in Somerset.

He has made enquiries and discovered that the entry is an authentic piece of Banksy's work. But he tells The Times that it won't win - because it is not bad enough.

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