Northern Ireland

What the papers say


Journalist Fionola Meredith takes a look at what is making the headlines in Tuesday's newspapers.

The papers anticipate the effects of the new higher VAT rate.

The Daily Telegraph said that the cost of many goods and services will rise by more than three times the rate of today's VAT increase.

And it claims that businesses such as gyms, mobile phone companies and restaurants will use the tax to mask a more dramatic price review - adding far more to a family's annual expenditure than was previously thought.

The Mail predicts chaos at the tills, as retailers add on the extra tax when shoppers come to pay - which is likely to go down badly. So is the move justified?

The Mirror thinks not. Accusing the government of betraying our trust, it says the Tories have broken an election pledge not to raise VAT, and "we must neither forget nor forgive the prime minister for dipping his hand into our wallets".

Not so, says the Sun - it's actually all the fault of the previous government, and it insists that the painful cuts and tax rises "will help to pull us back from Labour's abyss".

Locally, the row over the performance of NI water continues. The Irish News says there is increasing speculation that embattled NI Water boss Laurence McKenzie is set to resign from his job.

The paper says his position has been widely seen as untenable after the First and Deputy First Ministers failed to offer their support.

Meanwhile, the News Letter focuses on calls for Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy to step down.

In the Belfast Telegraph, Gail Walker sees evidence of failure and mismanagement right across the board.

She likens Northern Ireland to the old Eastern bloc, with an infrastructure literally crumbling away, a political class lost in fantasy, and a people who have lost faith in their supposed leaders.

She says that while NI Water deserves to be taken to task for their alleged ineptitude, politicians must face up to their own responsibilities.

No more finger pointing, chasing votes and blaming others - as Walker says, "that won't fix the flaming pipes. What we need is some serious leadership."

There are many tributes to actor Pete Postlethwaite, locally, those tributes have been led by actor Gerard Conlon.

Postlethwaite played Conlon's dying father in the Oscar-nominated film, the Name of the Father, about the Guildford Four.

In the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish News, Conlon describes Postlethwaite as a giant of a man and a great human being.

Donald Clarke, in the Irish Times, says that with his long face and mournful, cracked voice, he developed into one of the most sought-after character performers in Hollywood.

And the Guardian describes him as a "true star of stage and screen - despite a face like a clenched fist". It says his "rugged features made him every casting director's go-to guy for raw, lived-in truth".

Meanwhile, concerns about the puffiness of chef Gordon Ramsay's face are very much to the fore in the Mail and the Daily Express.

The Sun cruelly dubs him the "puff pasty chef".

All the tabloids have pictures of Ramsay visiting a Californian safari park with his pals David and Victoria Beckham, looking - as the Mail puts it - "shockingly pale and bloated".

Experts say it could be a side-effect of a procedure to thicken his hair.

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