[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2006, 10:45 GMT
What the papers say
papers
Journalist Fionola Meredith takes a look at what is making the headlines in Thursday's morning papers.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's sunshine holiday in Bee Gee Robin Gibb's Florida mansion comes under scrutiny in the newspapers.

Mr Blair is accused of "cheapening the office of the prime minister and grabbing yet another freebie holiday" in the Mail.

Now Downing Street says Mr Blair is paying for the Miami beach holiday, but, in the Mail, Mr Gibb's wife - County Tyrone-born Dwina - says the couple neither asked for nor accepted money from the Blairs.

"It's just a friendly thing", she says.

Mr Blair is facing claims of a conflict of interest because Mr Gibb has been lobbying the government to change its policy on copyright laws
The Mail

"Revealed: TB and Bee Gee on the QT" is the Guardian's headline - and the paper has the lowdown on the "opulent accommodation" on offer.

"There are nine bathrooms in the 5.8m mansion, exceeded only by the number of bedrooms - and that's 10".

And the tabloids are in a bit of a tizzy because Mr Gibb's wife is "a bisexual Druid".

"It's mind-boggling to think that Mr Blair and his family are staying in this Mecca of shenanigans" storms the Mail.

Ongoing feud

More seriously, the Mail also points out that Mr Blair is "facing claims of a conflict of interest because Mr Gibb has been lobbying the government to change its policy on copyright laws".

"The year of the gun" is the Irish Independent's verdict after the latest gangland murder in Dublin.

The paper says that gardai were just 200 yards away when Stephen Ledden was shot in the north inner city.

Thousands of Northern Ireland natives home for Christmas may be tempted to stay if it wasn't for the high cost of buying a place to live
Belfast Telegraph

The Irish Times says that the shooting marks a critical point in an ongoing feud between a number of gangs and families, and the Independent adds that it is sure to heap more pressure on the government to control the frightening escalation in gangland violence.

Both the News Letter and the Belfast Telegraph report that the dramatic rise in Northern Ireland's house prices is deterring expatriates from coming home.

It is these 65% rises over the last year that are "pricing the exiles out of the market", says the News Letter, in a country that was once the cheapest housing region in the UK.

'Glossy wet seals'

The Belfast Telegraph says that thousands of Northern Ireland natives home for Christmas may be tempted to stay if it wasn't for the high cost of buying a place to live.

The rest of us may find the grey drizzly weather we've been having lately a bit of a nuisance, but the seals at Belfast Zoo find the conditions very pleasant indeed.

Anyone who is a bit anxious because they do not know the words to the new year's most famous song is far from alone
The Guardian

There is a great picture on the front of the Irish News showing a pair of glossy wet seals enjoying a fish in the rain.

If you don't know the words to 'Auld Lang Syne' then just do a bit of mumbling like the rest of us, says The Guardian.

Now, we've done Christmas - next thing is New Year.

And the Guardian says that anyone who is a bit anxious because they do not know the words to the new year's most famous song is far from alone.

Apparently most revellers are lost when it comes to Auld Lang Syne, and fewer than a fifth know what the title means. (That's 'Times Gone By', if you are wondering).

A poll reveals that only 6% of Britons have mastered all five verses - a pretty tricky undertaking with phrases such as 'pint-stowp' and 'guid-willi waught'.

In fact, 78% of respondents admitted to just humming "sort of Scottish noises".




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific