Northern Ireland

What the papers say


Journalist Liz Kennedy takes a look at what is making the headlines in Friday's newspapers.

A number of papers pay tribute to the Royal Irish Regiment soldier killed in Afghanistan.

"I wanted to make my family proud", is the headline in the Belfast Telegraph.

The Daily Mirror quotes Ulster Unionist Party deputy leader Danny Kennedy, who said Lance Corporal Stephen McKee's loss was "absolutely devastating".

He was "a hero in life and a hero in death" reads the headline in the News Letter, referring to the RIR soldier from Banbridge. He was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan this week. The 27-year-old Lance Corporal is pictured with his younger brother Michael, also a Lance Corporal.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Stephen McKee was the first of his brothers to join the RIR. He had spoken to the paper a few weeks ago and said that his ambition had always been to join the army.

News Letter reporter Sara Girvin recalls the banter between Stephen McKee and his brother Michael, whom she met on a recent trip to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile the couple, who were murdered in Craigavon at the beginning of the week are pictured on their wedding day, on the front of the Irish News.

Hugh McGeough had extensive drug connections and the paper reports speculation about what will happen to the murdered man's assets.

And the intensity of Colonel Gaddafi's assault on rebels in Libya is reported.

"A mosque lies in ruins" reports Deborah Haynes from Zawiya. The Times journalist reports from the square there.

ITV's Bill Neely describes the devastation graphically in The Guardian as like mixing "a huge IRA bomb with a tank battle" and "an artillery barrage".

"Dozens were killed" in the battle for Martyrs' Square in the town just thirty miles from Tripoli, according to the Northern Ireland newsman. Streets were deserted, but he counted more than 20 new graves in the square.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror reports that Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif's house in London's Hampstead has been occupied by squatters it calls "pro-democracy Libyan activists".

The Daily Express leads with what it calls "the new pension disaster warning." The paper says that government ministers are "determined to crush a mass revolt by trade unions" over plans to "slash" public sector pensions.

New Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be trying to bring down the interest rate on Ireland's bailout says the Irish Independent. But Angela Merkel is pushing for an increase in corporation tax in the Republic.

The picture story shows Michael Flatley, star of Lord of the Dance at the premiere of the 3D film of his dance spectacular in London last night. The Irish-American star is supporting an American tourism campaign to encourage travel to Ireland.

But travelling the other way will be nine Irish cabinet members and around 30 councillors and council officials from the Republic going to Washington and New York for St Patrick's Day, according to The Irish Times. It is the 250th anniversary of the St Patrick's day parade in the Big Apple.

There is good news on the health front. It is all about body shapes in the Daily Telegraph this morning. Doctors have thought for a long time that apple body shapes are less healthy than pears. Now research from Cambridge seems to refute that idea. Being obese isn't good, but you can be an apple and a little plump round the middle.

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