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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 10:04 GMT
What the papers say
Daily Ireland editor Colin O'Carroll takes a look at what is making the headlines in Friday's morning papers.

The big story in all the Irish papers is, of course, the collapse of the case of an alleged IRA intelligence-gathering operation being carried out at Stormont.

A high-profile and very public police raid was carried out and led to the suspension of devolution.

Daily Ireland has an exclusive interview with one of the men aquitted over the allegations who claims the arrests were "politically motivated to discredit Sinn Fein and bring down the institutions".

The Irish News links the Stormont "fiasco" to President McAleese's meeting with Queen Elizabeth, claiming the visit was "a cover for the decision to collapse the case against the men arrested in the Stormont raids", not wasting a picture of the pair at Hillsborough Castle.

The News Letter simply refers to a "spy row" and says Ian Paisley will now demand a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain.

Agenda

Presumably he will not be asking why the case was brought at all, but "why those pesky Shinners weren't nailed good and proper".

The whole affair is coming home to roost for the PSNI, which is facing growing allegations of a political agenda being operated.

Daily Ireland also refers to the ongoing Irish Ferries dispute as does the Irish Times, with a rally in support of the workers in Dublin expected to draw thousands onto the streets on Friday.

The dispute is being seen as a marker for the unions to lay down the way forward, as other employers watch closely to see what the government will do.

So far, Bertie Ahern has taken the "Pontius Pilate approach", claiming there is nothing he can do, but it will be interesting to see if he shifts, as the unions flex their muscles for almost the first time since the Celtic Tiger started roaring.

Former junior minister Ivor Callely's demise, which stole the government's budget thunder, is the focus of the Irish Independent.

His passing will be a blow to the press, as he has provided the best entertainment in the Dail for quite some time.

The Irish edition of the Daily Mirror goes with Status Quo's Rick Parfitt's apparent battle with throat cancer.

The Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Mail lead with the headline that the NHS may not treat smokers or the obese.

I hope Rick Parfitt has got private cover.

One cannot help but feel that the bureaucrats only want to have nice healthy people in their hospitals, not the sick, because they only clutter up the place.

The papers then qualify the statement by informing us: "This is only if the lifestyle of the patient will affect the outcome of the treatment."

What exactly does that mean? Don't fix a runner's broken leg for example?

The Mail also deals with the Law Lords' decision on evidence gathered through torture.

'Hot air'

The Guardian devotes its front page to the ruling, which, according to the paper, "leaves the British government's anti-terror policy in chaos and could lead to the release of many people currently held without trial".

The Independent, meanwhile, dismisses the current UN climate conference as "simply hot air".

Finally, the Irish Independent refers to the psychology behind Bratz dolls, apparently the must-have toy for girls this Christmas.

The paper claims the shape of the dolls, with their big heads, collagen-pumped lips and skinny bodies, are a reflection of the ideals of the women's lib movement, according to a child psychologist.

The silly season is truly upon us.




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