Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

The commentators don't envy Tom Elliott in the task he faces as the new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.

It's put in rather blunt terms on the front of the Belfast Telegraph.

"Can the grey man really lead his party to salvation?" is the question posed in the paper's main headline.

Its political editor, David Gordon, reckons his options are limited.

"The link with the Conservatives has failed," he says, and "heading down the unionist unity path of closer co-operation with the DUP looks like a self-defeating cul-de-sac."

The News Letter says he needs not just the support of the people who voted him in as party leader, but from all those who turned out for his opponent, Basil McCrea, as well.

It concludes that he'll need to draw on "all his reserves" if he hopes to reverse the decline of his party.

But - unlike the Telegraph - it believes he "should be consulting with other unionists" at the earliest opportunity.

The story only makes it on to page four in the Irish News.

It leads instead with a report that a prison officer is facing jail after pleading guilty to smuggling Class A drugs into Maghaberry prison for a notorious bank robber.

The Irish Independent leads with a court hearing which appointed an official to divide up the assets of the disgraced former banker Sean FitzPatrick.

The paper says his creditors won't be able to touch his wife's share of his assets, which amounts to 3m euros.

The Irish Times reports that the consumer panel appointed by the financial regulator in the Republic has accused the banks of fleecing their customers with higher interest rates as they attempt to rebuild their balance sheets.

It also has an interesting picture story on a new range of Irish stamps featuring big names from the showband era.

The 55 cent stamp has a picture of the Miami Showband, three of whose members were murdered in a gun attack on the band's bus by loyalist paramilitaries in 1975.

Games turmoil

In London, the papers continue to comment on the troubled build-up to the Commonwealth Games in India.

The Daily Telegraph has a front page picture of children helping to install seats at a stadium in Delhi, supervised by a man carrying a stick. The paper says the photographer who took the picture was ejected from the arena.

The Independent sees a huge contrast with China, which used the Olympics as what the paper calls a "giant coming out party".

Despite the difficulties, one of the columnists in the Guardian urges the athletes to attend. Turning up, she says, is the least they can do.

The Daily Telegraph also lines up with the host nation, hailing what it calls its economic miracle. It hopes the glitches will be ironed out by the time the games begin on 3 October.

Finally, as the Mail and several others report, researchers in Toronto have concluded that muttering to yourself is not a sign of madness - quite the opposite in fact.

Apparently talking to yourself helps release your inner voice, improves self-control and prevents people from making impulsive and wrong decisions.

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