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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 January 2007, 09:12 GMT
What the papers say
Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at what is making the headlines in Thursday's morning papers.

Internal tensions in Sinn Fein over policing are the subject of much debate.

The Irish Times says Tony Blair cut short his holiday after telephone discussions with Gerry Adams "indicated that the prospect of agreement was in danger of breaking down".

The paper adds that the prime minister will have further intensive talks with Sinn Fein and the DUP on Thursday.

The News Letter talks of Sinn Fein "feeling the strain".

It says republicans are "trading blows over the policing issue," after a former hunger striker attacked Mr Adams's leadership and an MLA quit the party.

The Belfast Telegraph comments that a fifth of Sinn Fein's assembly team won't be standing for re-election in March, partly because of the policing issue.

It says the dissidents "must be won over by debate, and any attempt at intimidation is unacceptable".


It concludes that republicans and unionists find themselves in the same position, having to win over the doubters in their communities.

The Irish News devotes its entire front page to the collapse of the case against two men accused of involvement in the Northern Bank robbery.

It quotes one of them, Dominic McEvoy, from Kilcoo in County Down, who spoke of his relief.

The paper says the case "reflects poorly on the police at a number of levels" and it concludes that the lack of decisive progress calls for a detailed explanation.

The execution of Saddam Hussein continues to make headlines in the cross-channel papers with the Independent remarking that "this sectarian lynching," as it puts it, has "turned the former dictator into a hero" throughout the Middle East.

The paper says it "takes a real genius to create a martyr out of such a man," but it marks the "culmination of a series of chaotic choices by the American and British administrations".

The Daily Telegraph talks of "embarrassment over the behaviour of the American-backed Iraqi government" in the way the issue was handled.

The Times reports on attempts by Washington and London to distance themselves from the manner of the execution.


There is more of the same going on in the Guardian, where it's reported that Gordon Brown will seek to rid the government of what it calls the "political stain of Iraq" by concentrating on different aspects of foreign policy if he becomes prime minister.

One of them, it says, is the issue of climate change.

Several papers pay tribute to 14-year-old Michael Perham, the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic single-handed.

The Sun hails him as "a daredevil" and says he's an inspiration to young people.

The Express reports that he "battled hurricane-force winds and waves as high as a house".

But much more coverage goes to a group of people facing a less dangerous ordeal.

They are the latest celebrity contestants in the Big Brother house.

There are many pithy assessments of those involved, of whom Leo Sayer and Jermaine Jackson are perhaps the best known.

The Sun describes the group as "Dregs Eleven".

The Mirror is a little unkind about the ages of some of the house-mates and the "lack of fame" that characterises the others.

Its headline is: "Wrinkle Wrinkle Little Star".

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