Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

With a look at today's newspapers, journalist Mike Philpott...

It is the big trial. The Irish News has a picture of one of the accused arriving at the Crown Court wearing a Halloween mask to conceal his face. The paper says space was at a premium, with around 30 barristers in the room and press benches packed to capacity.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Robert Stewart, one of two brothers providing prosecution evidence, spent two hours in the witness box, flanked by two police officers, one of whom was armed with a taser. The paper says silence descended on the court as he described attacks that took place in 1996.

The News Letter has a picture of a long line of police officers in the grounds of the court building as it reports that the trial got off to "a tense but uneventful start".

The paper also reports on its front page that the Church of Ireland could split over the gay partnership of a minister in the Republic.

The local edition of the Daily Mirror reports that hundreds of parents in Northern Ireland are to join a class action against Facebook over claims that their children are being put at risk on the site.

The Daily Telegraph says new evidence by former executives at the News of the World to a committee of MPs amounted to 15 devastating minutes for James Murdoch.

The Guardian reckons he will be hauled back before the committee to explore his previous testimony that was contradicted by Tuesday's evidence.

The Independent points out that there is more at stake than just the veracity of his account of what happened. If he is seen to have misled MPs, it said, his succession as head of his father's media empire will be thrown into doubt.

But the Daily Telegraph says he came out fighting, by issuing a statement reinforcing his original claim that he was aware of only one reporter involved in hacking.

There are two sides to the debate, of course, and very little common ground. The Independent thinks it will improve public confidence in the legal system. It draws parallels between this issue and allowing cameras into parliament.

But the Daily Express has been talking to Roger Gale, a Tory MP who is also a former television producer. He says televising parliament has resulted in grandstanding by MPs and the same could happen with what he calls "eccentric legal professionals".

Several papers report how an American couple are spending their annual break at a B&B in Devon - for the 40th year in a row. The Sun reports that Bill Donald fell in love with the place after serving in the UK during the war.

The Sun also has the story of an entire street in Wales that has been to Spain for a holiday. Forty-nine neighbours made bookings on the same day in their local travel agent after somebody suggested it at a barbecue.

Remarkably, nobody fell out with anyone else and they are planning to do it again next year.

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