Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

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

"Mum is no killer", says the main headline in the Daily Mirror. "Mum could never kill our dad" is the Sun's version, after convicted killer Hazel Stewart's children told the BBC's Spotlight programme that they stood by her.

The News Letter concentrates on the fact that her husband David repeatedly questioned her about the murders for which she is serving 18 years in prison.

Another murder case makes the lead in the Belfast Telegraph, as it reports that a crucial witness to the killing of census worker Joanne Mathers in 1981 has come forward to say that he can identify the gunman. The paper describes the witness as a former soldier who worked as an undercover agent inside Sinn Fein.

The Irish News leads with more controversy over the use of European funds, after yesterday's revelations about children being photographed posing as paramilitaries.

The latest claims concern a project which funded loyalist paramilitaries to travel to Poland in an effort to reduce racism in Belfast.

The newspaper says the project has closed, after visits to the city of Krakow were described as being "like a well-funded stag weekend".

A former government minister is the focus of attention in Dublin. Michael Lowry, who was communications minister in the 1990s, appears on the front of both the Irish Times and Irish Independent after the Moriarty Tribunal found that he helped a mobile phone company win a national operating licence.

The Independent notes in its main editorial that Mr Lowry rejects the findings. It says it may be better for the tribunal report to be laid before the Dail and for a line to be "finally drawn under this controversy".

The Irish Times says the tribunal was established 14 years ago and progress has been "at a snail's pace". It wants to see "an effective and speedy method" to investigate any future allegations of corruption.

Many of the papers in London look ahead to George Osborne's second budget.

The Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express all concentrate on Mr Osbourne's plans to raise personal tax allowances. The Guardian is one of several papers to note that this is a nod to the Liberal Democrats, who had pledged in their manifesto to raise allowances to £10,000 a year.

The Times focuses on plans to extend a scheme aimed at helping first time home buyers. The newspaper is also concerned about the balance between restoring the public finances and easing the squeeze on middle income families.

The Mail questions the wisdom of being involved in military action in Libya at a time when the nation's finances are in "a fragile state". It concludes that improving people's living standards is the "war the government was elected to win".

Finally, the Guardian speaks up in support of an artist who was moved on from Trafalgar Square because the authorities believed he was posing a hazard to pedestrians.

Ken Howard was told people could trip over his easel. The Guardian visited the square to discover that there was also a street performer juggling with knives, but the police did nothing. The newspaper's reporter says he was so distracted he could easily have fallen over.

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