Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

There are three very similar front pages in Belfast, showing the car containing the bomb in north Belfast that has caused the closure of the Antrim Road.

"Dissident bomb designed to kill", says the main headline in the News Letter, which reports that the car may have been abandoned almost two days before it was discovered.

In that time, according to the story, hundreds of people had walked past it.

The Belfast Telegraph quotes the dissident group Oglaigh na hEireann as saying that it was "within seconds" of detonating the bomb to kill three police officers but aborted the attack when a civilian arrived at the scene.

In its main editorial, the Irish News says it's "insanity" to plant a bomb in a heavily built-up area.

Aside from that, it says, "there's nothing positive to be said about being forced to leave your home or about losing trade" because of the road closure.

The paper hopes the police "will make urgent progress in apprehending those responsible".

In Dublin, the new leader of Fianna Fail, Micheal Martin, is not just the most photographed person of the morning, but stories about him fill page after page.

The Irish Times says he has challenged the other party leaders to televised debates, arguing that it would turn the election campaign into one of "focused and substantial debate" instead of what he called the culture of "the empty sound bite".

The Irish Independent highlights his apology for Fianna Fail's mistakes. A headline on a piece by its columnist Lise Hand reads: "Humility, modesty and an apology. How things have changed."

The Irish Times comments that he faces an immense challenge. But, as the Independent points out, at least his position will be secure, however bad the election result.

The front pages in London are dominated by two separate crises in Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Lost Keys

The departure of the Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys is the big story for the Sun and the Mirror.

The Independent says his radio interview in which he criticised his former bosses and spoke of "dark forces being at work" was the audio equivalent of a very long resignation letter.

The rights and wrongs of what he and fellow commentator Andy Gray did are debated once again on the inside pages.

But Stephen Glover in the Mail says he worries that what he calls "this intolerant nation" now "expects football pundits to behave like the Archbishop of Canterbury".

The other big story is the phone hacking investigation at the News of the World, which is the lead in the Independent and the Guardian.

The Guardian says Rupert Murdoch and his News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, are under increasing pressure as the police investigation reopens.

Finally, the Sun, the Daily Express and the Mirror all carry pictures of the pest exterminators turning up in Downing Street after a rat was seen scurrying past the door of number 10 during a television broadcast.

The Mirror rather cheekily has a picture of a rat with a speech bubble coming from its mouth.

It's telling the rodent squad: You'll have to come back later - they're all at the Commons."

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