Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

A number of the papers examine the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute a London police officer.

The Pc struck a newspaper seller, minutes before he died at the G20 protest last year.

The Mail calls it a "crime no-one will now answer for."

The Guardian's crime correspondent thinks that it leaves Scotland Yard "a tricky path to negotiate" as to whether the Met will now charge the constable.

The Times says there has been"outrage" over the failure to prosecute and The Daily Telegraph says the officer was previously investigated twice over his allegedly aggressive behaviour.

The Independent says a prosecution can only be made, "if evidence is reliable," however.

And in that paper's entertainment section, it carries an extended interview with Ballymena actor Liam Neeson on his continuing grief since his wife Natasha Richardson's death last March.

'Lethal dust'

The personal health issues that emanate from the workplace are dubbed a "ticking time bomb".

That's the danger, according to the Belfast Telegraph, for the eight children of a former shipyard worker.

Their father and mother both died of asbestos-related diseases and now one of their sons has a rare form of lung cancer.

The paper asks whether lethal dust brought home on their father's clothes decades ago could "condemn his son to death".

And another health story, but "gold-plated pensions" the lead for the Irish News, as senior managers in the Health Service look set to cost local taxpayers £31m.

According to the paper - that's up to £65,000 for individuals. A Department of Health spokesperson is quoted as saying that senior managers have "pension entitlements as part of their contract of employment."

The News Letter leads on "the confusion" over the length of sentence given to an ex-INLA killer, who shot a British army recruiting officer at point-blank range nearly 20 years ago.

'Soft target'

Declan Duffy may only serve two years of his "life" sentence under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Belfast Telegraph quotes the prosecution in the case, who said the unarmed sergeant Duffy shot dead was "a soft target."

Selling State assets could be an option for the cash-strapped government in the Republic.

That's the lead in the Irish Times, as a government-appointed group examines options to cut Ireland's 84bn euros national debt.

Airports, ports, RTE, the postal service and the ESB could all be sold off, speculates the paper.

And the Irish Independent leads on how it says banks "lied" about the scale of their losses in crucial crisis talks with the government.

It's led to what columnist Emmet Oliver calls "another fresh wave" of banking allegations.

He says that what was needed during that fraught period were not quangos and consultants but "fiercely independent contrarian figures" but there don't seem to have been many of them about.

Old jokes

And finally, where do all the best jokes come from?

The Daily Express takes up the Keith Chegwin story.

He's accused comedians of stealing his gags, but the paper says that jokes can be traced back centuries - citing a Greek joke-book from 400AD - so people can't "own" them, as such.

There's a new translation out called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

And it gives a number of so-called modern-ish funnies.

My favourite is Bob Monkhouse's quip: "They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. They're not laughing now."

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