Newspaper review: Unisex flu and lingerie secrets

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Daily MirrorImage source, Daily Mirror
Image source, News Letter

A bomb explosion outside the home of a police officer in Londonderry is widely condemned in Thursday's papers.

The Belfast Telegraph says the officer's family has been left traumatised by the booby-trap bomb planted under his car.

The bomb was so sensitive it blew up as soon as it was touched by an Army bomb disposal robot, says the News Letter.

The Irish News quotes Supt Gordon McCalmont as saying it was not a pipe bomb but "something more intricate".

'Shut up'

The dailies also concentrate on the Prime Minister's claim that Troubles investigations are disproportionately focused on killings by the security forces when "90% of deaths were caused by terrorists".

The Belfast Telegraph says Theresa May is appalled by people who "try to make a business out of dragging our brave troops through the courts".

Image caption,
Theresa May told MPs it was not fair that soldiers were being treated less favourably than terrorists

Unionist parties welcomed the Commons intervention, with Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliot telling the News Letter it is helpful that English MPs are now "taking a keen interest" in Northern Ireland veterans.

However, a frustrated coroner's snappy challenge to the Ministry of Defence to "put up or shut up" over its Troubles-era files gets even more coverage.

Coroner Brian Sherrard is trying to investigate the IRA murders of 10 Protestant workmen at Kingsmills, County Armagh, in 1976.

The Irish News says he will "not tolerate prevarication" after it emerged the MOD is considering an application to withhold its Kingsmills files from public disclosure.

But it's not bombs or bullets on the front page of the paper, which instead leads with an eight-page special report on the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal.

Among the timelines and in-depth analysis of the botched heating scheme, the paper says it has uncovered one RHI firm that is "paid more than £1,000 of public money each week". [£]

'Woman flu'

The News Letter has its own special report, but this time it's a 12-page supplement on the Northern Ireland Assembly election campaign.

Featuring a cartoon of an obligatory crocodile on the front cover, it examines the chances of unionism retaining its majority at Stormont.

In an opinion piece, commentator Alex Kane states that it has the potential to be "the most important election ever in Northern Ireland".

The campaign has certainly taken its toll on the candidates, with many leaders struck down by illness.

Flu is an equal opportunities infection, with DUP leader Arlene Foster, Alliance leader Naomi Long and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood all suffering from well-publicised colds.

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood launched his party's manifesto joking that he wasn't sure if he had man flu or woman flu

Mr Eastwood launched his party's manifesto with a jibe at Mrs Foster, who declined to answer reporters' questions because she was suffering from so-called man flu last week.

The Belfast Telegraph quoted him outlining his own illness: "I am not sure whether it is man flu or woman flu - flu of some description."

The SDLP leader added that it was "disgrace" that crocodiles had got more attention than the health crisis in this campaign.

The closure of half of Northern Ireland's First Trust bank branches dominates the dailies' business pages.

The move is a "major blow" but banking unions are working to avoid compulsory redundancies, according to the Daily Mirror.

But as one familiar brand disappears from our high streets, The Belfast Telegraph lets it slip that a more famous name, Victoria's Secret, is preparing to open new stores.

Describing it as the "world's best known lingerie brand", the paper reports that the US firm has been "eyeing up" locations in Belfast city centre.