Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

Local political leaders are the focus. Looking ahead to the weekend and new SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell has said he will not wear a poppy on Remembrance Sunday.

He will attend the ceremony at Belfast City Hall, but won't follow the example of his predecessor Margaret Ritchie, who wore a poppy last year, reports the Belfast Telegraph. His party has issued a statement to say that people should be free to wear or not wear the poppy "without fear of rebuke".

Meanwhile, the News Letter leads with the refusal of Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott to disband his party. That follows the call from David Cameron to dissolve the UUP and merge with the Tories.

"Last-chance saloons" is the headline in the Irish News, as an industry body warns that 100 local pubs are set to close over the next year, with 30 bars in Belfast about to call time. The chief executive of Pubs of Ulster says that the net profit on a £3 pint is now just 3p.

And the end of Mary McAleese's Irish presidential reign is well chronicled. She's waving from her official car on the front of both the Irish News and the Irish Times, as she leaves Aras an Uachtarain for the last time - as her official residence, at least.

Miriam Lord says there were "no brass bands" as the president completed her second term, visiting a hostel for the homeless, amongst what Mary McAleese called "frail people".

In the Irish Independent columnist Lise Hand said that "emotions bubble near the surface" as she took her leave and she recalled, when - as one of nine children - the Belfast woman and her family experienced what she called the "misery of homelessness" in her home city for a short time.

And on a sartorial note Sabina, wife of new Irish president Michael D Higgins, will wear a red coat by Belfast designer Helen McAlinden at the inauguration today.

Eurozone problems

There are fresh warnings about the deepening financial crisis in the eurozone. "A new blow" says the Independent and former chancellor, Alistair Darling, writes in the paper that a break-up of the euro is the last thing we need and he advises "what Europe must do now, to avert calamity."

But his most worrying claim is that the so-called "rescue fund" does not exist, nor will it any time soon.

And the Daily Telegraph reports that France is drawing up plans to create "a breakaway group" of eurozone countries.

The headline in the Daily Express is "death of the euro" reporting that France and Germany's "secret plot" will wreck the currency.

On a smaller scale, young Frankie Cocozza or "shamed X-Factor tearaway" appears on the front of the Sun and the Daily Mirror. The 18 year-old has said "I'm not an addict, I'm an idiot." Or a teenager under too much pressure.

And at the other end of the music scale, in the Daily Mail, Joan Bakewell suggests that well-off pensioners don't need their winter fuel payment. They should give it away.

She says she bumped into Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin at their local post office and the multi-millionaire told her that he gets the non means-tested fuel payment too.

And finally, finishing on a true musical note. The Guardian has the story of the real viola da gamba, which will be heard at a festival of early music in London this weekend.

They've been making it from mahogany for centuries, but now an Irish instrument maker has made the true one from a scented south American wood. It sounds quite different, "almost flute-like" he says.

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