Northern Ireland

What the papers say

newspaper title

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

Tony Blair's memoirs prompt plenty of discussion in the comment columns in Belfast.

The lead story in the Belfast Telegraph sets the scene. It talks of "unionist anger" after the former prime minister praised Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

The paper itself comments that Mr Blair used "artful guile" to seal the peace deal in Northern Ireland, essentially telling each of the parties what they wanted to hear.

That approach doesn't exactly cement people's faith in his principles, it says. "And those who regard him with suspicion will have learned nothing to make them change their minds."

The News Letter calls him " a master of double-talk" but it believes that - in Northern Ireland at least - history may look kindly on him, even if his negotiating tactics "would not stand up to the closest scrutiny".

The Irish News says people will form their own views about whether Mr Blair was right to employ the tactics he did. But his approach gave him something which eludes most leaders of government - namely, a lasting political achievement.

Mr Blair is pushed off some of the front pages in London by another politician.

Hague adviser

William Hague captures several of the biggest headlines, after his remarkable statement following the resignation of his special adviser, Christopher Myers.

The Daily Telegraph describes the statement as "extraordinary".

The Mail says his comments were "astonishing" and "startling" in their frankness about intimate details of his marriage.

The paper says the foreign secretary "broke cover" after 10 days of "increasingly lurid allegations" on the internet about the nature of his relationship with Mr Myers.

It says the admission that on several occasions they had shared a room has led fellow Tories to question his judgement, and ministers are said to be irritated that he allowed himself to be put in such a compromising situation.

The Guardian questions the wisdom of appointing a 25-year-old with little experience of foreign affairs as a special adviser.

But The Sun calls Mr Hague "the victim of a baseless whispering campaign". It's a miserable sign of the debasement of our politics, it says, that such rubbish can be peddled.

The Irish Times leads with an assurance by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan that the Republic's economy is stable - despite what the paper calls signs of renewed weakness in the latest figures.

The paper says consumer spending has fallen and the mild recovery which was in evidence earlier in the year seems to have reached a plateau.

The Irish Independent says the middle classes are feeling the squeeze, after a jump in job losses among the professional classes and a surge in mortgage arrears. The worst hit, it says, are people in their 30s and 40s with young children and big house loans.

Red hot golf

Finally, the story of a golfer who achieved something even more remarkable than a hole in one.

The unnamed sportsman, who's perhaps wise to keep his identity secret, was trying to play a ball out of the rough on a course in California.

As The Express reports, he missed and struck a rock. That created a spark, which ignited the tinder-dry grass.

The fire spread rapidly to undergrowth at the edge of the course. In all, 25 acres were consumed, and it took 200 firefighters seven hours to bring the blaze under control.

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