Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Journalist Mike Philpott looks at today's newspapers,

The Irish News reports that a £5m contract for job creation in Northern Ireland has been awarded to a company in Scotland. The paper says the loss of the Go For It programme will be a massive blow, and could actually result in the loss of existing jobs here.

The News Letter reports under its main headline that the head of the Church of Ireland has tried to calm fears of a split in the Church over the gay partnership of a minister in the Republic. But the paper says Archbishop Alan Harper has not made clear his own views on civil partnerships involving members of the clergy.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that two major stores in Belfast are continuing to sell padded bras for girls as young as seven, despite concern for several years over the sexualisation of children.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster tells the paper there could be a role for the Assembly in banning the practice if the shops in question do not live up to "their social responsibility".

The papers in London are divided over the idea of scrapping the 50p tax rate.

Getting rid of the top rate was an idea floated by leading economists, who said high tax was making the UK unattractive to investors. The Daily Mail says there is a ring of truth about the argument, but it reckons it would be hard to imagine a more politically inopportune time for the Chancellor to offer tax cuts to high earners.

The Daily Mirror says even considering the idea would make a mockery of the government's claim that we're all in this together.

But several papers are in the opposing camp, including The Times. The Daily Telegraph says we are harming the prospects of growth in the name of fairness. Perhaps surprisingly, the Independent agrees. But it thinks there should be a so-called mansion tax to take a slice of unearned wealth rather than punishing high earners.

Several papers have the dramatic story of a woman who fell overboard from a North Sea ferry.

Jeni Anderson, who's 23, tells The Times that she was standing at railings on the ship when she toppled over. She does not remember how, only that she suddenly found herself hanging on and then having to let go as her strength ebbed away.

"I remember thinking," she says, "that this would be it, and it would be a terrible way to go." She does not remember being rescued either - all she recalls is people around her and a light from a helicopter.

The Sun reports that she was saved by a rescue crew in a launch and was treated by ambulance workers who were on the ferry heading off on holiday. The paper describes her rescue - in the dark - as being like finding a needle in a haystack.

Finally, our favourite cartoonist, Matt, in the Daily Telegraph, solves the mystery of the whereabouts of Colonel Gaddafi.

His drawing shows the dictator in the back of a vehicle, accompanied by a man with a machine gun. "I must leave Libya immediately," he says. "I've agreed to appear on Strictly Come Dancing."

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