Northern Ireland

What the papers say


Journalist Liz Kennedy takes a look at what is making the headlines in Friday's newspapers.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with what it says are the results of a report by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

Its headline reads: "Loughgall: the IRA fired first." The paper's political editor Liam Clarke says that is the conclusion of the report into the shooting at the police station in the County Armagh village in May 1987.

Eight IRA members and a civilian man were killed. Further findings in the cold case will be published later this month.

Meanwhile, the News Letter leads with a pledge from Secretary of State Owen Paterson that he will ask the Irish Republic's government to open its archive on what the paper calls "unionist concerns about Dublin's historic relationship with the Provisional IRA".

The paper also looks at the proposal to close 34 PSNI stations and says that the cost-cutting measures will "leave a police barracks almost a rarity here".

The Irish News speculates that Stormont may be the venue for a rally to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster covenant next September. It says problems have been identified with other venues, according to the Orange Order.

Its front page also carries a picture of an artist at work on a portrait of Patrick McGurk, owner of McGurk's bar, bombed 40 years ago.

The troubled waters of the euro zone seem slightly calmer, according to a speech by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

He will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris on Monday. The Irish Independent and the Irish Times both think a response from the European Central Bank will take new steps to calm the debt crisis in the Euro zone.

They also carry warnings for Ireland from Mr Sarkozy, who has said that what he's calling "unfair competition" on corporation tax cannot continue.

The Irish Times reports that Taoiseach Enda Kenny's so-called "state of the nation" speech will be broadcast on Sunday night.

It recalls what it calls Charles Haughey's "infamous" address in 1980, when he told his audience "we are living way beyond our means."

Mr Kenny's expected address on Sunday will come on the eve of the budget in the Republic.

Jeremy Clarkson is en route to Beijing and on almost every national front page, after his outburst about strikers on the One Show which received over 23,000 complaints.

The papers vary as to how it is judged. According to The Times, Mr Clarkson - who has since apologised - claims his comments were "agreed in advance" with the producer of the programme.

The Daily Mirror says he went into "reverse gear" firstly saying he was not sorry and then apologising two hours later.

The Guardian retraces what it calls "the bumpy road" of the Top Gear presenter's previous gaffes, as well as David Cameron's remark that Clarkson was "only being silly."

Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Brendan Barber has said the jibe was "more than silly" and that if Mr Clarkson "wanted to confirm his caricature as an outlandishly right wing figure, he has managed to do that".

The Daily Express has the story of one man in Somerset who has certainly got his Christmas decorations up. He has a Ferris wheel, polar bears and a quarter of a mile of fake snow outside his bungalow.

He also has his own radio station, which belts out festive music and the lights on the house flash in time to the tunes.

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