Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

The lifetime ban here on gay men giving blood is examined. The Belfast Telegraph's political editor looks at what he calls the health minister's "questionable stance" in retaining that ban, which was relaxed in the rest of the UK at the end of last year.

Liam Clarke says "there is talk in gay advocacy and health circles of a possible judicial review." He said the minister has "sparked anger", after claiming that blood donations from prostitutes are less dangerous than those from gay men.

And the search for the Disappeared - those murdered and secretly buried by republican paramilitaries, mainly the IRA, is to halt, according to the Irish News. The paper says the organisation tasked with finding the bodies has said its future "looks bleak", unless more information is provided.

And reaction to the report into the La Mon bombing in 1978 continues. "What a farce" is the headline in the News Letter. Jim Mills, an injured survivor, who lost both his wife and sister in the incendiary attack, has said that the two-year wait for the Historical Enquiries Team's report was a "waste".

Meanwhile, the paper's editorial examines David Cameron's visit to Scotland yesterday. It says that the "integrity of the Union must remain".

And the English papers continue on the Scottish theme. And a bit of a kilted stereotype in the picture on the front of The Times, with the prime minister photographed in front of a painting of the emblem of Scott's Porage Oats. That's the Scottish shot put thrower wearing his vest and kilt. Mr Cameron visited a porridge factory in Fife.

The cartoons in the Independent and the Sun both have Cameron himself as the Union flag-kilted figure on the porridge packet. The Independent wonders whether a visit to a porridge factory was really necessary. It says kilt-makers and shortbread manufacturers will be on full alert between now and the eventual referendum date.

And another referendum is up and coming in the south, this time on children's rights. It's kids, rather than kilts, who are the lead in the Irish Times. Atlantic Philanthropies is one of the charity backers of the Campaign for Children.

Campaigners says that the absence of an "explicit reference to children's rights in the constitution in the Republic is having a negative effect on the welfare of vulnerable young people".

Meanwhile, "splashing" of cash is what the Irish Independent calls it, as it reports that what it calls "archaic regulations" do not require political parties in the Republic to provide invoices or receipts for financial outlay.

Enda Kenny was said to have received 50,000 euros a year out of taxpayers' cash, to "bump up" his basic salary, when he was leader of the opposition. Only a handwritten spending statement was required to account for the money.

And potential pay rises for MEPs in the Daily Express. It slams a proposed 3% increase, for MEPs in Brussels, already on wages of over £20,000 more than Westminster MPs, as it says "the eurozone teeters on the brink of catastrophe".

And finally, the feel good story that just keeps on giving. You'll remember the honest street cleaner, who handed in a £21,000 gold watch which he found in a drain.

The Daily Telegraph reports that Aaron Large has now found three more expensive timepieces. If they are not claimed within 30 days, he could net £60,000. Watch this space.

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