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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
What the papers say
Journalist Keith Baker takes a look at what is making the headlines in Friday's morning papers.

The Irish News has been talking to the head of the Child Support Agency, Barney McGahan, who has been revealing problems of bad debt.

He confirms a statement made by Northern Ireland Office minister David Hanson that more than 36m in maintenance payments is probably "uncollectable".

Mr McGahan says the reason for this is simple - the absent parent does not pay up. He says there are other factors, such as a backlog in applications and the fact that some people go "absent without leave".

The News Letter carries the story of a local company which has apparently made a breakthrough in the treatment of bowel cancer.

The firm is Almac Sciences, based in Craigavon, and it has come up with a test which identifies patients in whom the disease will return.

A spokesman for the company says the test will mean people not having to undergo unnecessary chemotherapy. He said it was an exciting discovery, describing it as "Star Trek stuff".

The Mirror carries a front-page picture of 11-month-old Ava Nixon from Londonderry who is being flown to Germany where she will receive bone marrow treatment for a rare form of leukaemia.

The paper reports that the National Health Service has agreed to pay the bill for the life-saving operation.

Investigation

Several papers report on Thursday's press conference by families of the six people murdered by the UVF at Loughinisland 12 years ago.

Daily Ireland highlights the claim by the relatives that the RUC colluded with the gang responsible for the slaughter.

The Irish News says that, until now, the families have kept their concerns private in the hope that there would be a breakthrough.

But, the paper says, there is enough evidence now to justify a full reopening of the investigation. It reckons that using detectives from an outside force should not be ruled out.

Among the cross channel papers, there is much interest in a letter from a 28-year-old Tony Blair to Michael Foot, the former Labour leader, which has just been published by the New Statesman.

The Daily Telegraph runs the "Dear Michael" letter in full and it highlights the young Mr Blair's apparent interest at the time in the writings of Marx. The Mail says this letter has "come back to haunt him".

The Queen is interested in Marx, too, but in her case it's Groucho.

There is much coverage of her 80th birthday celebrations and her quote from the great man - "Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough."

The Sun notes that after the service at St Paul's the Princes William and Harry kissed their father and their uncles on the cheek.

The paper claims that onlookers were shocked. So was the author, the former SAS man Andy McNab. He tells the paper that this sort of thing from two young soldiers won't go down too well in the Army.

Bush-ism

Finally, the Independent has been to a press conference given by George Bush where he tried to banter with a reporter who was wearing dark glasses.

"I'm interested in the shade look," he said, "there's no sun."

It turns out that the reporter is partly blind and has to wear dark glasses to shield his eyes from the glare.




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