Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

A couple of political opinion polls make the headlines. One of them is in the Belfast Telegraph, and it finds that 90% of Ulster Unionists want the party to pull out of government and go into opposition at Stormont.

The survey was carried out at the party conference at the weekend. It also shows that eight out of ten members believe Tom Elliott is the best person to lead the UUP into the next election.

The other poll is in the Irish Times, and indicates that the independent candidate Sean Gallagher has gained a remarkable 20 points to put him in a commanding lead in the presidential contest.

According to the findings, support for Martin McGuinness has slipped back, putting him on 15%. And Dana Rosemary Scallon is on just 3%, down three.

The presidential election is also the lead in the Irish Independent. It focuses on what it calls an "explosive" letter in which Sean Gallagher boasts of his lengthy service with Fianna Fail, including two years working with the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey.

But it notes that his links with the party don't seem to have damaged his standing with the voters.

The News Letter leads with the break-in at the home of a 94 year-old woman in Newry. Its headline is taken from an interview with her son. "What kind of men are they?" it asks.

For the Irish News, the big story is what it calls "the most radical overhaul of the criminal justice system since the 2001 Patten reforms". One of its proposals is that prisoners who have been held on remand for more than a year would automatically be entitled to be released on bail.

In London, David Cameron is in the spotlight. The Sun describes this as his "week of hell" as he goes into battle with European leaders over the eurozone and with his own MPs over the idea of a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.

The Daily Express reports that up to 100 Conservative MPs are expected to defy the Prime Minister and support the referendum motion. It says that instead of Tory firepower being turned on Labour and the Liberal Democrats in this debate, Mr Cameron's guns are turned on his own ranks.

The Times says a German demand to bring forward a discussion on changing the rules governing the EU caught Mr Cameron off guard and strengthened the hand of the Eurosceptics in his own party.

The Daily Telegraph criticises the government for stifling the debate over the UK's membership of the EU. It's in the national interest for the voice of the people to be heard, not silenced, it says.

And finally, the Sun has the story of perhaps the happiest man in the country. It's Noel Gallagher, the former front man of Oasis.

He's a fanatical supporter of Manchester City, who inflicted the worst home defeat on Manchester United for 56 years. It was the icing on the cake in a week that saw his first solo album go straight to the top of the charts.

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