Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

The News Letter gives its biggest headline to that damaging leaked report on the Department for Regional Development's management of Northern Ireland Water.

The paper calls it "damning" and says it piles further pressure on the Minister, Conor Murphy.

It believes many of the 21 recommendations contained in the Audit Office document will make uncomfortable reading for him.

The Belfast Telegraph concentrates on the Ulster Unionist Party's decision not to support the draft budget. The paper says simmering tensions finally broke out into open hostility between the health and finance ministers.

It comments that all the parties share responsibility for running Northern Ireland and it's time they shouldered that responsibility like mature political representatives.

The Irish News, the Mirror and the Sun all lead with a fourth man appearing in court in connection with the murder of Michaela McAreavey.

In its comment column, the Irish News welcomes the messages of sympathy from unionist politicians, in particular that of the First Minister, Peter Robinson in the Assembly.

Brian Cowen's victory in his party's confidence vote is summed up by an Irish Times cartoon showing a dishevelled Mr Cowen standing on a rubbish tip, uttering the words "four more weeks".

Act of Settlement

The paper comments simply that the anger among the public "is palpable". It believes the opposition parties should guillotine the passage of the budget and bring on the election.

The Irish Independent agrees, and says it's difficult to fathom why the politicians are behaving as they are.

It's clearly in the national interest for the finance bill to be dealt with as quickly as possible and the election held immediately afterwards, the paper says.

A possible change in the UK constitution interests the Daily Telegraph.

It reports on its front page that the government is considering changes to the Act of Settlement to give girls in the royal family the same rights of succession as their brothers.

As the paper points out, any male child currently takes precedence over his older sisters.

The story says any change would involve altering legislation in each of the 15 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is the head of state.

The Daily Mail says Buckingham Palace has confirmed that it will abide by the government's actions. But it quotes "sources" as saying that the Queen "is concerned".

The Times leads with fears that interest rates will have to rise to keep inflation under control. It's predicting three small rises between now and the autumn that would increase the repayments on a £120,000 mortgage by around £50 a month.

Finally, the story of how the future of transport has ground to a halt.

Lembit Opik

The Segway, the two-wheeled platform that's a common sight on the streets of America, was once hailed as the most environmentally friendly way of getting around and as an alternative to the car.

But it has reached the end of the road in the UK.

As the Daily Telegraph reports, Philip Coates from Barnsley was fined on Tuesday for using one on a pavement.

The problem for owners is that the government doesn't allow them to be used on the road, effectively confining them to private land.

The former MP Lembit Opik, who turned up at the hearing on his own Segway, tells the paper the situation is "ridiculous".

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