Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

Stories about two of Northern Ireland's most famous figures dominate the front of the Belfast Telegraph.

Under its main headline, the paper reports that the family of George Best is taking legal action against his former wife, Alex, to prevent her selling off personal mementoes, including his passport and several trophies.

The paper also reports that the former first minister, Ian Paisley, has been moved out of intensive care and into the cardiac unit at the Ulster Hospital.

That story also turns up on the front pages of the Mirror and the Sun.

The News Letter leads with a death threat against the pastor who has organised a walk in memory of the 10 Protestant workmen murdered by the IRA at Kingsmills in 1976.

Pastor Barry Halliday tells the paper that the police have alerted him to a warning that he would be shot dead and his church burnt down.

The Irish News reports that one of Northern Ireland's top grammar schools - St Dominic's in west Belfast - is planning to continue with 11-plus-style entrance tests, in defiance of the Catholic Church.

German taunts

Finances at home and abroad are the big issue in Dublin.

The Irish Independent claims that political parties in the Irish Republic have received hundreds of thousands of euros in corporate donations that were never made public.

The story says it may be just the tip of the iceberg, and it exposes fundamental flaws in the declaration process that has allowed the parties to hide the full extent of the largesse of their corporate supporters.

The Irish Times leads with tensions between the European Union and Greece over the austerity programme agreed in Athens in advance of a new financial bailout.

The paper says the tensions arose after the Greek President declared that his country "would not be subjected to taunts from Germany".

It has a front page picture of a distraught relative of a woman who threatened to jump from the window of an office block in Athens after her wages were cut.

Hidden victims

The latest unemployment figures are the subject of some discussion in London.

It's the story behind the figures that interests the Independent. It says women are the "hidden victims" of what it calls the "flat-lining economy" and they have borne the brunt of the economic slowdown since last summer.

The Mirror agrees, arguing that women have been betrayed by the government. It accuses the coalition of turning the clock back to the days when a woman's place was in the home.

In a related story, the Daily Mail attacks the banks for failing to lend to small businesses. Despite promises, it says, lending to business has fallen every single quarter for the past three years.

Finally, the papers pay tribute to one of their own.

James Whitaker, the Mirror's Royal correspondent, has died after being diagnosed with cancer 13 months ago.

The tributes are liberally laced with anecdotes about one of Fleet Street's biggest characters.

The Daily Telegraph says he was noted at one time for his habit of writing stories with a plate of smoked salmon sandwiches and a bottle of champagne on his desk.

The Mirror says his consummate skill was in evidence the night Princess Diana died.

He was in Asia when a news editor rang him and gave him four hours to come up with a 20,000 word feature.

"Dear chap," said Whitaker, "pass me over to the copy takers".

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