Northern Ireland

What the papers say

Newspapers

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

The Belfast Telegraph reports on moves to reduce corporation tax and make Northern Ireland more competitive.

It says the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster is to look at reducing the current rate from 28% to 12.5%.

It quotes the North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, who's a member of the committee, as saying that a reduction could increase business opportunities.

The paper's business editor, Lindsay Fergus, comments that "in a dark economic climate, it provides a little light".

Apology

The Irish News leads with the story of how a US supermarket executive broke down in tears as he apologised to the family of two brothers murdered by a man who now works at Asda.

William Hunter was sacked earlier this month in a dispute over a loyalist tune but reinstated after protests outside the store in north Belfast.

The paper reports how Rick Bendel, an executive from Asda's parent company Walmart, flew into Belfast to apologise to the family of Thomas and John McErlane, who were shot dead in 1975.

The News Letter reports under its main headline that Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has been criticised after giving conditional approval for another four Irish language primary schools.

It says unionist politicians have pointed out that "there are too many empty seats in existing Irish schools".

In Dublin, there's news that one of the city's department stores could change hands for a knockdown price.

Debt

The Irish Independent reports that Arnott's could be sold to the banks for just one euro, effectively wiping out the shareholding of the existing owners.

But it says jobs at the store are safe for now.

According to the paper, Arnott's owes the Anglo Irish Bank 150m euros, while Ulster Bank holds the remainder of the company's debt.

The Anglo-Irish Bank turns up again in the lead story in the Irish Times.

It reports that the office of the Republic's Financial Regulator signed off on the sale of 15% of the bank's shares to the businessman Sean Quinn in 2008.

It says the loan to the Quinn Group for the purchase of the shares came from the bank itself, and the information is contained in a confidential letter which the paper's reporter has seen.

The Times in London reports that the backlash against the leaking of thousands of intelligence documents about the war in Afghanistan is growing.

'Immature and dangerous'

The paper says US politicians and human rights groups have all condemned the Wikileaks web site. It joins in the clamour in its main comment column, describing the leak as "immature and dangerous".

The Guardian says a furious diplomatic row has erupted between London and Islamabad after David Cameron accused elements of the Pakistani state of promoting the export of terrorism, including support for the Taliban.

The paper says Pakistan's high commissioner to London has accused the prime minister of damaging the prospects for regional peace.

Finally, most of the papers identify those "must-have" gadgets that you don't really need at all.

The consumer organisation Which? has been looking at some of the items that households buy at a cost of £630m a year, and found that some were worse than useless.

As the Daily Mail reports, they include anti-wrinkle creams, smoothie makers and so-called "amazing" rubber balls which are claimed to reduce tumble-drying time and stop creasing.

The researchers say they are amazing for all the wrong reasons, because their effect was precisely zero.

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