Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

Northern Ireland's hospital waiting lists are spiralling out of control, says the Belfast Telegraph.

It says there has been "a staggering 2,500% jump" in the number of people waiting more than nine weeks for a first appointment.

It says the number of people having to wait rose from 1,100 in June last year to almost 30,000 this year.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey blames budget cuts.

However, Stormont health committee chairman Jim Wells tells the paper it's down to management.

Independent MLA Dr Kieran Deeny says the health system is in crisis.

'Worst nightmare'

The front pages of the Irish News and the Mirror have pictures of six-year-old Stuart Wilson from Rathfriland, who has died after an accident at Cranfield beach on Monday.

In the News Letter, he is described as a wonderful little character. It says his death would be the worst nightmare for any parent.

The paper's main story looks back to the general election and the pact between the Ulster Unionists and the Tories.

It says they spent more than £126,000 on their campaign, almost twice as much as any rival party.

The paper also reports on the latest developments in the contest for the Ulster Unionist leadership.

The main story in the Irish News involves a court case.

The paper says a kidnap trial may have to take place in the hospital ward of a high-security prison because one of the defendants is bed-ridden with a rare bone disease.

It says a Crown Court judge and jury may have to sit inside Maghaberry, in what would be the first time in Northern Ireland that a trial took place behind bars.

Phone hacking

In the cross-channel papers, the Independent talks of "Tories in a spin".

It says there's a bad news cycle which could bring a four-month political honeymoon to an end.

One of the problems currently being faced by David Cameron is highlighted in the Guardian.

It reports on pressure for a judicial inquiry into phone hacking by News Of The World reporters at the time when Andy Coulson, who's currently the prime minister's media adviser, was the paper's editor.

And the papers haven't finished with William Hague yet either, with columnists, leader writers and cartoonists all having their say.

The Sun editorial hopes Mr Hague stays strong. "The government needs him, Britain needs him," it says.

It advises him to pour a cup of Yorkshire tea and get on with the job.

Commentator Michael White in the Guardian says that if Mr Hague were to retire hurt, the Cabinet's IQ would be seriously depleted, although not its stock of common sense.

'Unknown substances'

The Daily Telegraph has a cartoon about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Seven men in a room, one says... "the bloggers will have a field day".

And a columnist in the Times is fed up with the room-sharing controversy.

"Turn the light off and stop talking," he says.

There's plenty of talk about that Guns N' Roses show in Dublin on Wednesday night.

Frontman Axl Rose isn't exactly noted for his punctual time-keeping and he walked on stage at the O2 40 minutes late with unruly fans firing various missiles at him.

Guns and roses were just about the only things not being thrown: the Irish News says there were containers full of what the promoters described as "unknown substances".

As a result the singer left the stage after 22 minutes.

The Irish Independent concert reviewer calls him "a washed-up bad joke" and says he should retire from live performances with immediate effect until he "learns some basic manners".

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