Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

With a look at today's newspapers, journalist Keith Baker...

A story for motorists in the Irish News. The paper says one in seven drivers who should be off the road after collecting 12 or more penalty points is being allowed to keep his or her licence.

You can collect points for various offences, of course, including drink driving, speeding, going through a light or failing to produce a specimen for a breath test.

But the Irish News says that in some cases courts are ruling that a ban would cause the motorist, their family or employees exceptional hardship.

Two views on this. One from the Institute of Advanced Motorists who say they're shocked at such leniency. And there's a spokeswoman for our district judges. She tells the paper they have flexibility if a court is satisfied there are mitigating circumstances.

The main story in the News Letter - how the Revenue and Customs are hitting the dissidents.

The paper's been talking to the crime consultant Alan McQuillan, who used to run the Assets Recovery Agency. He says a major increase against fuel laundering plants is likely to cause significant damage to dissident republican activities.

Customs officers are carrying out four times as many raids as three years ago. Apparently republicans are now thought to be the only paramilitary groups involved in fuel laundering.

On the front page of the Belfast Telegraph a picture of a woman grieving at the September 11 memorial in New York.

Similar pictures throughout the other papers, of course. The Daily Mail headline calls it the grief that will never go away.

One relative's quoted in the Guardian - Everyone has made a big deal about how it is ten years but the number doesn't make a difference. It hurts just as much.

In the Irish Times, reporter Lara Marlowe reports how it took four hours to read the 2,983 names of Osama Bin Laden's victims, each reader ending with a personal message. She says it was like listening to the voicemail on heaven's answering machine.

And amid the reflections - thoughts of the future in the Times, moves to bring the Taliban in from the cold.

The Times reports that the US has given its blessing to this. Washington has apparently endorsed plans for the Islamist network to open political headquarters in the Gulf state of Qatar by the end of the year. The move has been devised so that the west can begin formal peace talks with the Taliban.

The paper says that as a reminder of the potential value of a truce, a truck bomb in Afghanistan yesterday killed two people and wounded 101 in one of the bloodiest days for American forces since the US invasion ten years ago.

Other stories in the papers this morning about the banks with George Osborne in the spotlight. The Guardian looks at his austerity programme for Britain and reckons it will cut family living standards by more than 10 per cent over the next three years.

A report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies says there will be greater inequality and child poverty, throwing into reverse progress which was made by the last government.

Elsewhere, the Daily Express reflects the views of one prominent social observer who thinks Britain's being strangled by the "petty bureaucracy of the EU" and there aren't enough schools or prisons for that matter.

Who says all this? Well, we're talking about that one-woman think-tank Joan Collins. She has a book out of course - the World According to Joan.

She says this government depresses the hell out of her - but then, so did the last one.

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