Northern Ireland

Newspaper headlines: Phonegate, suspicious betting and Doris Day

Daily Mirror front page Wednesday 22 February Image copyright Daily Mirror

The Alliance Party and 'phonegate' continues to cause a lot of chatter.

The News Letter says party leader Naomi Long denied knowledge of a spin doctor's call to activists to "hijack" a BBC phone-in show with friendly questions during an interview with her.

The Belfast Telegraph, who broke the phone-in story on Tuesday, says the BBC has been warned its credibility is on the line in the wake of what it calls the "fake callers" row.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell told the paper the BBC needed to ensure its shows "don't become a propaganda tool for any party".

'Sanctimonious perch'

The BBC said producers worked "as rigorously as possible" to identify every caller.

The Belfast Telegraph's viewpoint admits it is hard not to "smirk" at the party "falling off its own sanctimonious perch" but it says the story raises issues of media manipulation and issues of trust.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Both the News Letter and Telegraph used this picture of Naomi Long at the party's manifesto launch

Under-fire Alliance launched its election manifesto on Tuesday and the Irish News focuses on the party's claim that the real drain on our resources is not a botched energy scheme but the £800m-a-year cost of servicing a divided society.

The paper also covers People Before Profit's manifesto launch and its hopes to win extra seats in West and North Belfast.

Bomb discovery

The front page of the Irish News carries the latest legal ruling in relation to Pat Finucane, the solicitor who was shot dead in front of his young family at their home in Belfast by loyalist paramilitaries in 1989.

His widow, Geraldine, lost her challenge to the British government's refusal to hold a public inquiry.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The discovery of the bomb in west Belfast led to a security alert

The paper leads on comments from the judge about a "discreditable" delay in police identifying "new and significant information", which emerged in an 2012 review of the murder.

The discovery of five pipe bombs and ammunition at a house in west Belfast on Tuesday is covered by all the papers.

The News Letter's front page says the find is thought to be linked to the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

Calamity Doris

Sport makes the front page of the Daily Mirror, which reports an investigation has been launched into suspicious betting on an Irish Cup match.

Five players have been suspended by Crewe United while the probe continues, it says. It is in connection with the County Antrim's sixth round tie at Warrenpoint.

There is no suggestion Warrenpoint was involved in any wrongdoing, the paper adds, and a Crewe spokesman said it took action as soon as the club was notified by the Irish FA.

Image copyright Getty Images

And finally, the Mirror says Wednesday has been renamed Doris Day - in honour of the fourth winter storm roaring in from the Atlantic.

In Calamity Jane, Doris Day sang about Chicago being the windy city and that nickname could easily apply to parts of Northern Ireland over the next two days.

Consider yourself weather warned.