Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

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

The issue of sham marriages is the subject of two of the main headlines locally.

The Belfast Telegraph says the UK Border Agency and the police have raided 35 suspected fake weddings and arrested 42 people on suspicion of immigration offences.

The paper says that amounts to one sham marriage a week since June.

The Irish News reports that the dissident cleric, Pat Buckley, is facing prosecution for allegedly conducting wedding ceremonies that have enabled foreign nationals to become EU citizens.

It says others accused of related alleged offences include five Chinese and Portuguese nationals.

The News Letter focuses on what it calls "unionist unity" on the Policing Board to oppose a Sinn Fein plan that would stop redundancy payments to former police officers if they are re-hired by the PSNI in other roles.

There is controversy on the front pages in Dublin.

The Irish Independent reports that three cabinet ministers responsible for introducing savage spending cuts in the recent budget are insisting on holding on to their right to a teacher's pension when they leave office.

The paper says Michael Noonan, Brendan Howlin and Joan Burton are all entitled to pensions from their teaching careers, even though they are guaranteed almost 100,000 euros a year when they retire from politics.

The Irish Times focuses on another minister with a thorny issue on his hands.

It says Phil Hogan, the minister for the environment, has insisted that a new property tax in the Republic is essential but has pledged that it will be fair.

The story adds that Sinn Fein has accused the government of attacking people on low and middle incomes by introducing the tax in a year's time.

Almost every front page in London features footballer John Terry.

The news that the England and Chelsea captain is to appear in court charged with alleged racist abuse of an opponent makes the lead in the Daily Mirror and the Sun. It also appears on the front of the Times, the Guardian and the The TIndependent.

The Guardian's headline on the story notes that he "intends to fight tooth and nail" to prove his innocence.

Simon Barnes, writing in the Times, says it is a shocking moment, but the fact that people are outraged by allegations of racism shows how far football has come from the days when the National Front did serious recruiting at soccer grounds.

Improving attitudes towards black players, he says, is one thing football has gradually been getting right.

There is a strange medical story also featured in some papers.

The Sun and the Mirror both report on the woman who has had a felt-tipped pen removed from her stomach 25 years after she swallowed it.

The woman, who is not named, apparently tripped while using the pen to hold down her tongue to check her tonsils.

Her husband and her doctor refused to believe her, and the pen was forgotten until it turned up in a recent scan.

Incredibly it was still working and the surgeon in Exeter who removed it was able to write the word "hello" to his patient after the operation.

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