Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

David Cameron's speech to his party conference features on a couple of the front pages in Belfast.

The Belfast Telegraph has a front page picture of him giving the thumbs-up to his supporters. A thought bubble above his head says: "I hope this is playing well in Northern Ireland."

The paper says he was trying to woo us, but doubts over his understanding of our fragile economy won't go away.

The local edition of the Mirror concentrates on his pledge to protect Northern Ireland from dissident republican terrorism.

The News Letter says in its comment column that he endorsed the union.

But its lead story focuses on a conference on the subject of abortion - the first to be held in Northern Ireland, according to the paper.

It says the organisers have denied that the aim is to legalise abortion in this part of the UK.


The Irish News picks up on a story that appeared in Wednesday's Irish Independent - the Republic's plan to introduce new road tolls.

It says some of them will be on cross-border routes - in particular the N2 from Londonderry to Dublin.

It's back to Mr Cameron's speech in the London papers - and the reaction is mixed.

The Times and the Sun see it as the prime minister's "Kitchener moment," as he effectively told voters: "Your country needs you."

The Daily Express also looks for echoes from history, and settles for Mrs Thatcher's assertion that there was "no going back".

But for the Mirror, that's not a good thing. It says Mr Cameron's language resurrected what it calls "the frightening spectre" of Thatcherism.

The Guardian thinks his address was short on detail and "skated over" many practical issues.

The Financial Times agrees, and says that while he left us in no doubt about the pain of the cuts, the government's broader objectives "require more definition".

'No escape'

Perhaps his most enthusiastic cheerleader is the Times. It says the speech was impressively delivered, and was also impressive as a big political argument.

In Dublin, the Irish Times reports on the warning by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, that there's no escape from tax increases as the government tries to narrow the gap between revenue and spending.

The paper puts the size of the gap at 18.5bn euro.

The Irish Independent says the opposition parties have been warned that they must "toe the line" on budgetary plans or come up with their own credible alternatives.

The warning came not from the government, but from an influential credit ratings agency as it again downgraded Ireland's economic standing.

The paper says that if targets are not met, the cost of government borrowing could soar.

Finally, news of Britain's first conference dedicated to all things boring.

The Independent reports that 29-year-old James Ward had been looking forward to attending a conference called Interesting 2010.

But when he found it had been cancelled, he decided to hold an alternative - Boring 2010.

Among the subjects being tackled are the history of dust, the importance of car park roofs, and the difference in taste of semi-skimmed milk from different supermarkets.

There will also be a game of computerised solitaire projected on to a giant screen, complete with a live commentary.

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