Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at Wednesday's papers.

Falling house prices feature in a couple of the local lead stories.

According to the News Letter, they have "plunged" to levels last seen in 2004. It also highlights last night's BBC Spotlight programme, on which an economist said prices were unlikely to return to their peak levels for decades.

It's a similar story on the front of the Daily Mirror. It reports that 26 properties which are being auctioned next week could sell for 70% less than their original value. The paper comments that home owners and first time buyers alike need stability in the market.

The Irish News also has something to say on the subject. It comments that there was a time when soaring prices were seen as the nearest thing to winning the lottery.

But it criticises the Stormont Executive's handling of the sale of military property on the Malone Road in Belfast. The Audit Office said it had not obtained best value for the site.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the news that grammar schools are accepting lower marks in their entrance examinations. It says more than two thirds have admitted pupils who scored the lowest grades, and it raises questions about the value of the tests.

In the Dublin papers, there is more potentially bad news for the taxpayer.

Both report that people could be asked to pay 50 euros for a medical card, which is currently free of charge. The Irish Independent says it's one of a number of budget measures being considered by the cabinet.

The paper believes it's an explosive issue, and it recalls the public reaction when the previous government tried to take away automatic entitlement for the over 70s.

The Irish Times says up to 40 publicly owned nursing homes could close to save money.

It also has a front page report on RTE's decision to suspend its flagship current affairs programme, Prime Time, after it made wrongful accusations against a priest, Fr Kevin Reynolds.

The broadcaster's director general is quoted as saying that it was "one of the gravest editorial mistakes ever made" by RTE.

Several of the papers in London focus on the investigation into standards of care for elderly people in their homes.

"Elderly abused by their carers" says the main headline in the Daily Telegraph. "Cruelty of the carers" says the Daily Mail.

It has several examples of older people being treated badly by care workers. One pensioner was put to bed for the night at 14:45 in the afternoon.

A 76-year-old cancer sufferer was forced to struggle to the kitchen to heat up a meal, because it was claimed that health and safety rules prevented care workers from operating a microwave.

The Mirror comments that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has exposed a scandal - and it's impossible to read its report without feeling rising anger and despair.

Finally, several papers report on a robbery that didn't go exactly as planned.

As the Sun reports, two women who managed to steal £400 worth of alcohol from a supermarket in Manchester left out a vital detail.

They forgot to put petrol in their getaway car. Close circuit television pictures show them being pushed by a passer-by to the supermarket's own petrol station.

The Sun's headline: Thick getaway.

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