What the papers say


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

The terrorist attack on a policeman's home makes the lead in two of the local papers.

The Irish News reports how the officer and his young family have been forced to leave their home in Fermanagh just two days before Christmas.

The paper blames dissident republicans for throwing the grenade-type device at the house.

It quotes the SDLP assembly member Tommy Gallagher as saying that those responsible were "reckless".

The News Letter quotes the Ulster Unionist leader, Tom Elliott, who calls it "disgraceful and cowardly".

The Belfast Telegraph and the local edition of the Mirror focus on the weather.

The Telegraph says the cost of 900 litres of heating oil has broken the £500 barrier - and the price could go even higher.

The Mirror says thousands of families are without heating because they have run out of oil or because their pipes have frozen.

It reports that many have been forced to move in with relatives until fuel arrives or until repairs are made.

The most unusual weather photograph appears in the Guardian, and shows blue sheep against a snowy background in County Antrim.

They have been coloured to help farmers identify them.

The Irish Times reports that extra flights are being laid on at Dublin Airport as airlines try to clear the backlog caused by ice and snow. But its biggest headline goes to the Irish government's legal moves to take the Allied Irish Bank and other financial institutions into state control.

The Irish Independent leads with the contents of a confidential report on the pension arrangements of the former chief executive of Irish Nationwide, Michael Fingleton.

The paper says he built up a pension pot of 28m euro - the biggest in the country.

It points out that Irish Nationwide is earmarked to receive 5.4bn euro from the taxpayer.

There's more trouble for the Liberal Democrats in the Daily Telegraph.

It publishes more comments made by Liberal Democrat ministers to its undercover journalists, in which they describe David Cameron as "insincere" and complain that George Osborne has no experience of how ordinary people live.

In a leader, it urges the Lib Dems to "behave like grown-ups".

Leo McKinstry, writing in the Daily Express, says that what he calls the "serial carping" exposed by the Telegraph indicates that the party is "dangerously irresponsible and unprofessional".

The Financial Times says the influence of the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has been severely curtailed since his indiscretions were highlighted.

But it criticises the Telegraph for its methods.

"Entrapment may be justified in exposing corruption or criminal activity", it says, but Mr Cable's "less than earth-shattering revelations" don't qualify.

Finally, the prize for Christmas decoration of the year should perhaps go to a couple in Somerset.

The Mail is one of several papers to carry a picture of their hedge, which has been cut into the shape of a Christmas pudding.

It's a natural red-brown colour, and the top has been sprayed with white emulsion paint, with toilet ball floats added to act as berries. The owners of this seasonal extravagance? Who else but Roger and Valerie Holly.

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