Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

The Republic's economic rescue plan merits a mention almost everywhere.

It's the lead - unsurprisingly - in the Irish Times and Irish Independent. But it also attracts the biggest headline in the Irish News and is covered widely in the London papers.

The Irish Independent reports that the average family will be paying more than 4,500 euros in extra taxes and charges by the end of the four-year plan.

There's not much of a welcome in the comment columns.

The Irish News says the failure to tax wealthy businesses while hitting the poorest paid "is hard to justify" - that's a reference to the decision to hold corporation tax at 12.5%.

The Irish Times says the plan is "not without its faults".

It describes it as "a blunt instrument" designed mainly to reduce indebtedness. And as people rein in their spending, it doesn't predict a happy Christmas for the shops.

For the Irish Independent, it's a "painful step" that must be taken. But it says "the banks still need restructuring, the political system must be reinvented and those who broke the law and broke the Republic must be brought to justice".

The News Letter says the politicians have taken the brunt of public criticism for what's happened and people seem to forget that it was the bankers and others in the financial sector who were the main contributors to the disaster.

"It's in our interests to have a stable neighbour," it says, "but stable is not a word that springs to mind at the moment."

GAA talks

Its biggest headline, though, goes to the talks between the Ulster Unionist leader, Tom Elliott, and the GAA.

The paper describes them as positive, despite Mr Elliott's previous assertion that he would never attend a gaelic game.

But it's back to economic matters in the Belfast Telegraph.

It reports that 2,500 new teachers are struggling to find a job, while schools are wasting £6m a year by using retired staff for substitute cover instead.

It says the Public Accounts Committee has criticised the Department of Education for failing to tackle the issue.

The widespread student protests dominate many of the news pages in London.

"School's out: Children take to the streets", says the main headline in the Guardian.

The paper says tens of thousands of pupils walked out of class. What they did next is documented in the photographic work on the front pages.

The Mail shows three young women attacking a police van near Downing Street. The Mirror shows another protester wearing a stolen police helmet.

But for all the anger that was on display, the Independent says it didn't spiral out of control. In fact, it says the battle was often between those intent on trouble and students who wanted to keep things peaceful.

Finally, the story of the motorist who's been given 42 years to pay off her parking fines.

As the Sun reports, the 21-year-old unemployed woman from Wales has picked up 160 tickets from traffic wardens.

Now, because she was unable to pay them, her local council has agreed an instalment plan of £5 a week.

She'll finally clear her bill - together with legal fees - in March 2053. She has - wisely - got rid of the car.

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