Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

A Belfast city centre assault on two women is contributing to an atmosphere of fear, according to the Irish News.

It reports that two women were punched in the face by a man in a grey suit at lunchtime on Royal Avenue on Thursday.

One woman said: "You are locking yourself in the car, you are locking yourself in your house and now you can't go for a dander." No police officers were available to come to the scene, the paper says.

The lead in the Belfast Telegraph concerns car jacking, with statistics from the PSNI that 428 vehicles have been hijacked in just three years. North and west Belfast are the worst affected areas and the figures come from a Freedom of Information request.

"Respect" - that is the promise from Danny Murphy, the most senior GAA figure in Ulster, in the lead in the News Letter.

The "respect" is to be shown for unionist commemorations, including the signing of the Ulster Covenant and the Battle of the Somme. Mr Murphy had responded to a challenge given to the sporting organisation by Rev Dr Norman Hamilton, former moderator of the Presbyterian Church.

'Funny man'

There are many tributes to the late Frank Carson in all the papers. The Belfast Telegraph has 85 jokes from his joke book. The Mirror runs his line about another comic: "I am accusing him of stealing my best material; he was a very funny man."

The financial situation at Rangers could now affect on-the-pitch action according to the Sun, which says that police have threatened to call off the next Old Firm game, unless the administrators pay their debt for policing.

On Scottish matters, the brawl in the House of Commons bar is in most papers, as the Labour MP for Falkirk is alleged to have head butted a Tory. Eric Joyce is a former major in the Black Watch.

"It was like the Wild West," reports the Express.

Phone-hacking is back in focus at News International. The Guardian says the details of Charlotte Church's phone hacking settlement will be announced in court on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph continues its investigation into abortion clinics alleged to have carried out terminations on the grounds of the gender of the child. An abortion doctor has described it as "female infanticide." The health minister called it "morally repugnant."

The death of a toddler is in the headlines i.n the Republic of Ireland.

The tragic drowning of a two-year-old in Athlone is the lead in the Irish Independent. It was a "ghost estate horror" says the paper, "an accident waiting to happen".

The estate, near the child's home, has just five occupied houses.

The Irish Times reports that the boy may have been running after the family dog when he squeezed through a fence and fell into a pool of water.

But the paper's lead is about the shock decision to refuse planning permission for a children's hospital on the Mater site in Dublin. However, Enda Kenny has vowed "that the hospital will be built within the lifetime of his government".

And finally, it is the battle of the bogs, as turf cutters draw a line in the peat.

The Times tells the story of environment versus tradition, over how cutting turf at home will break European laws. Now turf cutters are to march in Dublin on 7 March, to protest. Sean Reilly is pictured with his grandson and he says he'll go to jail for his right to cut turf, as his family has done for 600 years.

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