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Thursday, June 24, 1999 Published at 06:57 GMT 07:57 UK


Papers urge Trimble to break deadlock

As The Mirror speaks of increasingly entrenched sides in the Northern Ireland peace process, a number of papers believe that the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, should break the deadlock before next week's deadline for an agreement.

In the view of The Guardian, movement from both parties would be welcome, but even so, it adds, the reality is that the burden of movement now falls largely on Mr Trimble - and the hardliners around him.

The paper describes Mr Trimble's case as weak, saying the decommissioning of IRA weapons has never been a precondition for Sinn Fein's participation in the Northern Ireland executive.

For The Independent, the only way out is for Mr Trimble to take the first historic step and compromise. However, the Daily Mail takes a different view.

Were Mr Trimble to make even one more concession, it believes, his party would disintegrate. The onus, the paper insists, is on Sinn Fein. It has been the overwhelming beneficiary of the peace process, says the paper, and must make the one gesture that will break the logjam.

Nato claims questioned

The Times says Nato's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia succeeded in damaging only 13 of the Serbs' 300 battle tanks in Kosovo - despite alliance claims of large-scale destruction.

According to the paper, the Yugoslav army used well-practised Russian camouflage techniques which involved placing dummy tanks around the countryside.

Some of them were placed next to dummy bridges, the paper continues, while strips of black plastic sheeting were laid across fields as fake roads, to fool Nato pilots into thinking they had a prime target to hit.

Shopping charges looming

The main story for the Independent is that grassroots Labour Party members are demanding that the government impose tax rises on the middle classes and the rich. The paper says leaked confidential papers reveal that a battle over tax will break out at a meeting of the party's National Policy Forum in Durham next weekend.

From The Express comes word that consumers may have to pay an admission fee to enter shopping centres in future. The paper, reporting from a marketing show, quotes a consumer consultant as saying shopping centres will become more like lifestyle centres, combining shopping as well as other activities.

He cites the example of a centre in north London which has themed restaurants, a DIY store and a gym. The expert is quoted as saying that shoppers will be happy to pay for the extra experience of visiting attractions as well as doing their weekly shop under one roof.

Finally, a man was hanged for trying to rob a bank in Chester after becoming trapped by a security screen.

According to the Times, the screen, which rises from the counter, trapped him by the neck and lifted him bodily into the air. He was held pressed to the ceiling in the shutter's grip, with his body and legs dangling helplessly. Staff had to support him with a step-ladder to relieve the weight off his neck.

The paper adds that firefighters eventually freed the man - but not before word had spread, drawing sightseers to the crime scene.

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