Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories


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

The Belfast Telegraph has an interview with the Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin in which she defends her appointment of Mary McArdle as a special adviser.

Listeners will know about this controversy - how Mary McArdle was convicted of being involved in the murder of magistrate's daughter Mary Travers in 1984.

The Minister, who points out that she is a former prisoner herself, tells the paper she feels privileged to have her as an adviser.

She says the appointment was not poor judgement, nor was it made to upset the Travers family but she understands their anger and grief.

Meanwhile, the SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie joins the debate. She tells the Telegraph she wants to see higher standards in these appointments and she says the time has come to end what she calls the special treatment which the British and Irish governments give to Sinn Fein.

And of course Ms Ritchie found herself in the headlines recently with leaked comments by the US Attorney General criticising her public performance.

These remarks are reported to have been made by the American Consul here Kamala Lakhdir.

One of the comments was that Ms Ritchie had an unpleasant speaking voice and was wooden. Interviewed by Liam Clarke in the Telegraph she laughs this off and apparently even sang him a few bars of Elvis Presley's song Wooden Heart.

Talking to the Irish News, she says she has no time for tittle tattle. She says sheis not bothered by the consul's remarks but she is disturbed by the fact that party insiders have been briefing against her.

And she says she is going to stay on as leader and will fight any challenger.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph notes that Ms Ritchie and the US Consul are due to meet soon. "Oh to be a fly on the wall," it says.

On to other matters and the News Letter has details of a major report by the historical inquiries team.

The focus here is on the Kingsmill massacre of 1976 when 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead.

Relatives of the victims will receive the inquiry team's report today. The News Letter says this will reveal that the guns used in the attack were also used in 110 other murders and attempted murders.

It says these include the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan who were shot dead after a visit to the police in Dundalk. This of course is currently the subject of an inquiry in Dublin.

The paper says the report's also expected to confirm that the IRA were responsible for the Kingsmills massacre. It says they have never admitted involvement and were meant to have been on ceasefire at the time.

Turing to the cross channel papers, news of impending strikes causing concern.

Typical headlines, include "Pensions war will cripple Britain" in the Express and "Britain walks out" in the Independent.

The Guardian says it feels like the Thatcher era. The Independent says some Conservative MPs would have been at primary school during the strikes of the 80s and they must be wondering - didn't she see all this off?

Finally, the most photographed couple of the day are Chritstine Bleakley and Frank Lampard, who have just got engaged.

Much speculation about where the wedding will be. The Belfast Telegraph and the Sun wonder if it will be at Ballyblack Presbyterian Church near Newtownards.

Some of the headlines are "Franks for the ring" in the Daily Mirror.

For the Telegraph it is simply, "Match of the day".

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