Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

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

The Belfast Telegraph claims that there could be a major shake-up in the National Health Service in Northern Ireland.

It claims that hospitals and A&E departments could be forced to shut their doors in a desperate bid to save the NHS due to a £1bn shortfall in the health budget.

The paper says it has seen a confidential document that casts doubt on whether the health service will break even this financial year, and the document calls for significant changes to the current pattern of acute hospital services.

In an editorial, the Telegraph says that this is an issue that "must be shorn of emotion," and a realignment of health services is inevitable.

"If that means fewer hospitals," says the paper, "then that's the price that must be paid."

The Irish News says that the latest attempt to kill police officers has simply confirmed what many people knew - that the dissidents are impervious to public opinion and are stubbornly wedded to their futile campaign.

Warning that we are standing on the abyss, the News Letter calls for the full backing of the community "to root out dissidents once and for all".

The Irish Times carries a new report on the financial crisis in the Republic.

"Lax oversight by regulators and the government and flawed lending by the banks" - these were two of the main reasons behind the collapse of Ireland's financial sector.

That's according to Finnish banking expert Patrick Nyberg. But his report stops short of pinning the blame on any individuals, merely noting that large parts of Irish society were willing to let the good times roll on to the very last minute.

The paper's editorial thinks the Nyberg report is surprisingly light on figures and heavy on psychology.

But it admits that the collective refusal to confront "what was staring us in the face" is the fatal flaw that links the banking crisis to the Moriarty tribunal and the Ryan report.

Several papers discuss Britain's involvement in the crisis in Libya.

The Times reports that senior army officers are heading for Benghazi to sharpen up the Libyan rebel movement, prompting concerns that Britain is being dragged further into the messy stalemate with Colonel Gaddafi.

The Independent says that the move will spark fears of "mission creep". But the Times says it shouldn't be seen as "boots on the ground" - more like "a small selection of sensible shoes on the ground".

Elsewhere, the Daily Express is concerned that energy saving lightbulbs may be giving off cancer-causing chemicals, claiming that they "pulse out" poisonous materials when they're switched on.

And the red-tops lead with the search for whoever sent two mail bombs to Celtic boss Neil Lennon.

Finally, the Daily Telegraph reports on a small victory for a micro pig.

Patrick, the pet micro pig, had been banned from his owner Lee White's outdoor clothing shop in Lancashire, because council officials thought he was a health risk.

According to Mr White, Patrick was upset about this, and was close to tears when he couldn't go in. So Mr White registered as a pig farmer, and now Patrick is back in the shop.

According to Mr White, there's no way the pig is any risk to health. He says that Patrick is "bathed twice a week in baby shampoo, and his skin is lovely".

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