Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: NI and Republic of Ireland stories

Newspapers

Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at the morning papers.

David McNarry takes up his pen in the News Letter to air his opinions on the controversy in the Ulster Unionist Party.

He writes that the party's only hope is an alliance with the DUP. He says the talks in which he was engaged before his sacking would have seen the two parties fighting elections separately but sitting as a single bloc in Stormont.

The Belfast Telegraph reports, under an exclusive tag, that Belfast City Council is about to launch a £150m initiative to boost the city out of recession.

According to the story, £20m of that will be invested in the Waterfront Hall to turn it into a world class convention centre.

The front of the Irish News is dominated by a picture of Declan McNally, a publican in Toomebridge, who claims that a member of the security services held a gun to his head and threatened him with execution unless he became an informer.

He also alleges that he has been harassed by the police since he was arrested, but released without charge, in connection with the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr.

In Dublin, two very different issues occupy the main headlines.

The Irish Times claims that Europe's new fiscal treaty was drawn up specifically to minimise the prospect of a referendum in Ireland.

The paper says Fianna Fail has joined other opposition groups in demanding that the public are given a vote on the treaty.

The Irish Independent reports that left-wing TDs who have strongly criticised the health service have refused to reveal if they have private insurance or rely on the service themselves.

The paper says it asked the question of politicians, hospital bosses, health service managers and senior civil servants and many of them declined to answer.

But it says Health Minister James Reilly has admitted that he has had private insurance all his life.

'Dishonoured'

Plain Mr Fred Goodwin takes the lion's share of the headlines in London.

"Goodwin is shredded", says the headline in the Daily Telegraph.

It is one of many papers to lead with the withdrawal of his knighthood.

"Dishonoured", says the Independent. The Daily Mail calls it "the humbling of Mr Goodwin".

The Guardian says the move has provoked calls for other bankers, politicians and regulators to be stripped of honours in a similar fashion.

But several questions are raised about Fred Goodwin's treatment.

The former chancellor, Alistair Darling, writes in the Times that there is something tawdry about the government directing its fire at Mr Goodwin alone.

The Independent agrees - up to a point.

It says that to be fair, all cabinet ministers who oversaw the boom and the bust should be stripped of their status as privy councillors.

Finally, gardeners at a stately home find a novel way of doing one of their most time-consuming chores.

The Daily Express is one of several papers to report that grounds keepers at Longleat House in Wiltshire used to take a month to trim the hedges in one of the world's largest mazes.

It took five people all that time to cut the 16,000 yew plants that make up the hedge.

But now two people can do the job in just a week - after one gardener bought stilts that are normally used by plasterers to work on ceilings.

The Daily Mail says their biggest achievement must have been getting it past heath and safety.

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