Northern Ireland

What the papers say


Journalist Keith Baker takes a look at what is making the headlines in Monday's newspapers.

We have been hearing a lot about the water crisis.

The situation is improving and there's certainly no interruption to the supply of news stories and comment.

The Irish News says hundreds of families got their water back on Sunday night but they are complaining that Northern Ireland Water didn't tell them.

The Mirror looks at the problems facing schools. It says thousands of pupils will be turned away when the schools re-open as staff struggle to deal with the destruction left by weeks of leaking pipes.

A story in The Times questions how NI Water handled the situation.

It claims they waited ten days before asking companies in Britain for help.

According to The Times, they failed to take advantage of a mutual aid scheme under which the UK's 23 water companies agree to help each other in extreme situations.

The Secretary of State Owen Paterson says this was a great shame.

And the issue of water charges raises its head of course.

This is the main story in the Belfast Telegraph. It has been asking the main parties in Northern Ireland for their views in light of the current crisis and it says they're still snubbing the idea.

But the newspaper thinks we should have an urgent debate. It says it's time we saw grown-up politics on this issue. Clean, abundant water, it says, is too important to be muddied by endless tribalism.

A lengthy editorial in The Times says that what's been happening in Northern Ireland is a political, economic and social scandal, unimaginable elsewhere in Britain.

It says no buck has been passed around NI as fast as this fiasco.

The Times tells its readers that taxpayers elsewhere in the UK subsidise our water. It says water here is being run by an "incompetent and wasteful monopoly" and it wants our politicians to invite private companies to take over.

The News Letter says we've been let down by the people whose job it is to provide the most basic of human needs and they mustn't be allowed to escape without sanction.

And as a footnote to all this, let's not forget the situation in the Irish Republic.


The Irish Times says water restrictions in the Dublin area are expected to continue for at least 12 days.

It says the amount of water in one major reservoir at Stillorgan is still just marginally more than a single day's supply for the city.

The rioting at Ford Open Prison is a big topic.

The Mail asks why dangerous men were put in an open jail, free to start a riot.

The Times is alarmed by the disclosure that only six members of staff were on duty at the time.

The Sun says this revelation and the reports that the prison was awash with alcohol reduces British justice yet again to a laughing stock.

The Mirror turns its attention to the Chancellor George Osborne. It finds him on holiday on the slopes of Klosters in Switzerland.

This provides a ready-made opportunity for a bit of Osborne-bashing.

The Mirror says he's been relaxing in a royal ski resort while the UK reels from his savage policies.

Scrambled egg

There's a comment from one trade unionist - "This is graphic proof that we're not all in this together".

So here we are in 2011 or is it two thousand and eleven? In the Irish Independent Mary Kenny makes a plea for 2011. We didn't call 1991 one thousand nine hundred and ninety one, she says, so saying two thousand and eleven is a kind of millenarianism. Good word.

The letters column of the Daily Telegraph always produces a variety of opinion on topics of the day.

On Monday morning there's an interesting discussion on a difficult subject - how to clean a scrambled egg saucepan.

Plenty of good advice but the one thing it doesn't mention is that you need water.

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