Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

The resignation of Laurence MacKenzie as chief executive of Northern Ireland Water came too late for the papers, but as they went to press they were in no doubt that he was about to quit.

He's described in the Belfast Telegraph as "the fall guy", but the paper says there are calls for others to be made accountable.

It comments that questions must be asked about the role of the regulator and of the Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy.

The News Letter says Mr Murphy is facing a vote of no confidence in the Assembly, but Sinn Fein can stop it succeeding "because of Stormont's complex voting arrangements". But the paper describes the minister as "wounded".

The Irish News claims that Laurence MacKenzie will walk away "with a six-figure payout", despite being in his job for only 18 months.

It devotes its main headline, though, to the news that hundreds of operations are being put on hold because hospitals are under pressure from cases of swine flu.

It says people with the illness are occupying 33 of Northern Ireland's 77 intensive care beds.

The Daily Telegraph says doctors' surgeries in other parts of the UK are running out of vaccine and manufacturers are warning that they have no supplies left.


According to the story, there are only 1,300 doses of the vaccine for more than a million people in Derbyshire.

The paper reports that the number of flu cases is rising faster than before the last epidemic in the winter of 1999.

The Mail says it could be eight months before new doses of vaccine are available.

The Sun reports on a crisis at one hospital in Warwickshire, where 16 patients contracted the virus in a single day.

It's not the only piece of bad news on the front pages. Several papers report on increasing prices in the shops.

The Mail talks of fears that "surging food and energy costs" will add to the pressure on people's finances.

The Guardian says the experts are divided about whether inflation is here to stay. But if it is, says the paper, it will bring higher interest rates and a threat to economic recovery.

Cash transfer

The papers in Dublin focus on a bankruptcy hearing in Boston involving the former boss of Anglo Irish Bank, David Drumm.

The Irish Times says he transferred more than 500,000 euros into his wife's American bank account in the month he quit as chief executive.

In a separate story, the Irish Independent reports how the wife of the indebted builder, Sean Dunne, has set herself up as a property developer in the US.

Finally, several papers report on the rather expensive consequences of a spilled cup of coffee.

A pilot knocked over his drink on a flight from Chicago to Frankfurt.

The liquid interfered with communications equipment, sending out a distress signal indicating that the plane was being hijacked.

That, in turn, led to a full terror alert. But as the Guardian reports, it all ended happily with an unscheduled stop in Canada.

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