Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

Reports on the St Patrick Day celebrations are the main theme locally.

The Daily Mirror, amongst others, carries pictures of global festivities, alongside the local parade celebrations. Meanwhile, the Irish News shows what it calls the "sole saint's day hitch."

Its picture story shows the tricolour unfurled by a Sinn Fein councillor at the start of the St Patrick's Day parade in Downpatrick yesterday. The decision caused some people to pull out of the parade but the newspaper does point out that the controversy caused in the County Down town was unusual.

Six pages document the annual celebration, but the wakeboarding leprechauns on Lough Erne were possibly one of the more strange spectacles.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with an interview with Education Minister Caitriona Ruane, who says that scrapping the 11-plus was her proudest moment and that she wants every pupil in Northern Ireland to have the opportunity to learn Irish.

Meanwhile, the News Letter shows the grieving family and friends of Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, as his body was repatriated at Wootton Bassett yesterday. The Banbridge man was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.

The proposed visit to Ireland of the American president Barack Obama is widely welcomed.

"Yes, I can visit" is the headline in the Irish Independent. The newspaper reports on the president's promise of economic support for the Republic. Both the Irish Independent and the Irish Times carry the same picture of Enda Kenny and Barack Obama shaking hands beside the fireplace at the White House.

The latter paper says that it is unlikely that the Obama daughters will come to Ireland, as they will be in school in May.

Miriam Lord writes that it was "Enda's red-letter day, as Obama gives him the chance to roll out the red carpet." She writes that the news of his visit crowned the Taoiseach's "already successful debut".

Other international news is less celebratory and the prospect of military action being taken against Colonel Gaddafi's forces makes many leads. It follows last night's vote at the UN Security Council, approving the no-fly zone.

The Guardian's headline is: "Britain, France and the US line up for air strikes." It also carries a report from Tripoli, threatening retaliation in the Mediterranean area.

"Now it's a fight to the death" is the headline in the Independent.

The Times says that a "hesitant Obama made up his mind, thanks to European resolve" and that there will be "cruise missiles, drones, a no-fly zone, but no boots on the ground."

The tragedy of Japan's earthquake and tsunami continues, one week on. The focus of the Guardian is on older people at a hospital six miles from Fukushima nuclear plant. 128 elderly patients were apparently abandoned there by medical staff. By the time they were discovered, most were comatose, and 14 died shortly afterwards.

The Daily Telegraph shows aerial pictures of the exposed interior of unit number four at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The Sun has the story of the wild jackdaw who has struck up a friendship with a 10-year-old boy. It has been sitting on Emmanuel Adams' shoulder as he walked to school. Now it has moved in to his Manchester home, sitting on his head, as he watches television.

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