Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

Health stories dominate the front pages in Northern Ireland.

The News Letter's main picture is of John Compton, the man who chaired the review into the health service - a review which the paper describes as "the biggest shake-up" of medical care in the history of the service.

It comments that in Northern Ireland "we're wedded to the idea of small hospitals in every large town, but most people will see that the existing arrangements were not sustainable".

"Under the Knife" is the main headline in the Irish News over a picture showing surgeons at work in an operating theatre.

Its view is that "there's still the small matter of persuading the public that these changes will result in a better service".

The Belfast Telegraph looks at another aspect of the health review - the idea of taxing fast food to tackle the obesity crisis.

Under the headline "Tax the Burgers," the paper says the review team also warned the politicians that they must take action to address smoking and alcohol abuse.

There are worries in Dublin about Britain's relationship with the European Union.

The Irish Times reports that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, had a telephone conversation with David Cameron amid growing concern about the impact on Ireland of the UK's isolation.

The paper says politicians in the Republic are worried about the effect on the economy, given that Britain is the country's biggest trading partner.

The story adds that opposition parties in Dublin are demanding a referendum on any new treaty drawn up by the EU.

The Irish Independent focuses on more domestic matters, reporting that anyone who refuses to pay a new property charge faces a fine of up to 2,500 euros.

The tax comes into operation in January and will affect 1.6m households. The paper describes it as controversial.

It's back to European issues in the London papers.

The Financial Times says cracks are already beginning to appear in the treaty that was supposedly agreed at last week's summit. It quotes the Czech Prime Minister as saying that it amounts to nothing more than a blank sheet of paper at the moment.

The Independent says Nick Clegg will have the job of "picking up the pieces" with Britain's European partners.

It says he's been placed in the role because of his previous experience as a Euro MP.

According to the Times, David Cameron's difficulties on the issue are not over.

It believes euro sceptic Tory MPs are planning to ambush him during a Commons debate in the new year, and will attempt to turn it into a discussion on Britain's membership of the EU itself.

And finally, news of a spreading crisis in Norway.

The Times reports that supermarket shelves in the country have been stripped bare of butter.

Apparently, tradition in Norway dictates that people should bake at least seven different types of cake for the festive season. The shortage is so acute that one man who advertised half a kilo for sale received a bid equivalent to £325.

That makes it almost as expensive as silver.

The paper quotes a Norwegian student at Oxford, who says he's taking a few kilos home in his suitcase for Christmas. He doesn't say how he plans to stop it melting at the airport.

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