Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

The Belfast Telegraph reports on what it calls "serious concerns" that children are being educated in buildings that are crowded and dilapidated.

The paper says it has obtained nearly 70 letters and e-mails from public representatives to the Department of Education expressing concern.

The News Letter talks of unionist anger over a crusade against government welfare reforms by Social Development Minister Alex Attwood.

The paper says Northern Ireland could be left to pay its own £3bn bill for benefits.

Public money is also under the spotlight in the Irish News.

It says convicted criminals could receive tens of thousands of pounds after what it describes as "blunders" by the Prison Service.

According to the story, 35 former prisoners are claiming that they were detained unlawfully, including one man who says he was held for a further eight months after he had served his sentence.

The Irish Independent in Dublin talks of a drastic plan to save the banks as the euro faces a new onslaught.

It says the government in the Republic will effectively nationalise AIB and Bank of Ireland before the weekend.

It points out that the value of AIB - including all its branches and deposits - stands at just over 350m euros, compared with 22bn at its peak.

The Irish Times reports that a challenge to the leadership of Taoiseach Brian Cowen fizzled out at a Fianna Fail parliamentary meeting, and he doesn't plan to call an election until February, once the budget measures have been passed.

The paper says he rejected a Fine Gael demand to bring the budget forward and have all the legislation in place by Christmas.

'War clouds'

The Times, the Independent and the Guardian all have front page pictures of smoke rising from Yeonpyeong island in South Korea, after it was shelled by the North Korean military.

The Independent talks of war clouds gathering over the peninsula as the South warns of "massive retaliation".

The Times comments that the North has shown itself to be immune to diplomatic blandishments and a threat of overwhelming military force may now be the only way of destabilising the regime.

Back at home, the Daily Express reports that the royal wedding in April will be marked with a four-day celebration, including a bank holiday, street parties and a concert in Hyde Park.

The Mail points out that people could get eight days off work, because the wedding date falls just after Easter and just before the May Day bank holiday.

The Daily Mail says Westminster Abbey will be packed with children, volunteers and the homeless for what it calls "a people's royal wedding".

Finally, the Mail has pictures of the moment when Culture Minister Ed Vaizey spotted a Bronze Age bracelet during a visit to the British Museum.

He reached out to try it on, causing panic among museum officials, one of whom told him off.

As the paper points out, the jewellery is so delicate that it shouldn't be touched by an ungloved hand.

To add insult to injury, it says, he was there to announce cuts to the fund that looks after public treasures.

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