Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

It's budgetary matters all the way this morning, starting with the local papers. The rich have won and pensioners have lost - that's the view of theBelfast Telegraph.

Its editorial says that, by hitting tax allowances for people above pensionable age, he has scored "an enormous own goal". As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, the paper says, the budget is "unimpressive". It welcomes the investment in high end television production but points out that the thorny question of corporation tax remains.

TheIrish Newssays half a million people in Northern Ireland have won a tax cut, but drivers and smokers will pay. But it concludes that it remains to be seen if it will make any difference to people and businesses "trying to make ends meet".

For theNews Letter, the budget contains elements of benefit for ordinary citizens, but high earners will be rewarded significantly.

There are quite a few special supplements in the London papers. TheGuardianand theIndependenthave 16 pages each. The Times has 20 pages.

And theDaily Telegraphboasts a staggering 21 broadsheet pages of coverage. It says that what it calls "the granny tax" on middle class pensioners has been condemned by the over-50s organisation Saga as "an outrageous assault".

The paper concludes that George Osborne performed a sleight-of-hand taken directly from "the Gordon Brown textbook".

TheDaily Mailsays the chancellor has "picked the pockets of pensioners". TheExpresssays 5m of them have been "robbed". And theSunsays that, while he has saved Wallace and Gromit with his film incentive, he has put too much money in "the wrong trousers".

The most brutal assessment is in theMirror, where Mr Osborne and David Cameron are the subject of a mocked-up picture showing them wearing hoodies and carrying a baseball bat. "Mugged", says the headline.

TheTimessees it as a gamble, but says the chancellor was "right to produce a budget that put incentives for growth ahead of the immediate political consequences".

There is no escape from national finances, even in the Dublin papers. TheIrish Timesreports that the government in the Republic is negotiating with the European Union to avoid a payment of more than 3m euros in bank debt which is due at the end of this month.

TheIrish Independentsays a deal to defer the debt for 13 years is "on the cards". If the government succeeds, it says, it will help to allay fears that a second budget and even more cutbacks might be needed this year.

Other stories on the Dublin front pages are the siege in Toulouse and the imminent verdict of the Mahon tribunal on allegations of political corruption.

Finally, Matt in the Daily Telegraph has no fewer than three cartoons this morning. The best of them shows Little Red Riding Hood speaking to a wolf kitted out in a dressing gown and white cap.

She's saying: What a big tax bill you have, grandma.

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