Northern Ireland

What the papers say

Newspapers

Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at Thursday's newspapers.

The Health Service is firmly in the spotlight in the Belfast papers.

The Irish News carries details of two critical reports which, it says, officials had claimed didn't exist.

The paper talks of "a culture of cover-up" and says it's the latest in a series of damaging revelations, including the warning by a consultant that patient safety was being compromised by the failure to analyse thousands of X-rays.

The News Letter comments that a picture is emerging of a service that is "under immense strain and fraying at the edges".

It believes NI's devolved system of government is asking much tougher questions of those in charge, but it says there needs to be a much more thorough debate about health care "that goes beyond point-scoring over the latest scandal".

The paper's lead story is the latest evidence in the trial of Hazel Stewart - a subject that also dominates the front of the Belfast Telegraph.

Another trial makes the lead in the Mirror, as it reports on the life sentence imposed on Ryan Leslie, who murdered his baby son, Cameron.

The paper says Cameron's mother cheered when the verdict was announced at Belfast Crown Court.

Parish pump politics

In the Republic, the latest opinion poll in the Irish Independent indicates that voters want a move away from "parish pump politics" in the election campaign and a greater concentration on national issues like the economy and job creation.

The paper says "personality politics" are now of little interest and voters want solutions.

It comments that people are demonstrating that they want "broad-minded legislators, not narrow-minded local politicians" and they will cast their votes according to the "big, seismic issues" that will affect everyone in the country over the next five years.

The Irish Times concentrates on attempts by Fianna Fail and Labour to undermine Fine Gael's poll lead by focusing on what they claim is a 5bn euro "black hole" in its economic plans.

Egypt

The Daily Telegraph is one of several papers to report a darker side to the uprising in Egypt.

It talks of a "brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating" inflicted on the CBS reporter Lara Logan in Cairo.

She was surrounded by a chanting group of 200 men after being separated from her camera crew, and was eventually rescued by a group of women and Egyptian soldiers.

The Times says many of the poorer-educated men in the country regard western women as having loose morals, and there is a culture of sexual harassment that often goes unpunished.

The Telegraph and the Independent both report that Colonel Gaddafi's Libya is the next north African nation to face the anger of its people.

The Independent says the west's interests in the region will be served best "by standing up for democracy".

Finally, shock and horror as the nation runs short of a trendy vegetable.

Purple sprouting broccoli is a common ingredient on the middle class menu, thanks to the efforts of chefs like Jamie Oliver, says the Daily Telegraph.

But the cold winter has wiped out much of the annual crop.

The paper says it's a crisis on a par with the fettucine famine of three years ago, when Waitrose ran out of ribbon pasta.

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