Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 09:08 UK

What the papers say

newspapers

Journalist Mike Philpott takes a look at what is making the headlines in Wednesday's morning papers.

The leading loyalist Andre Shoukri features on two of the local front pages.

As the Belfast Telegraph puts it, the man who once gambled more than £850,000 in one bookie's is now penniless, and a confiscation hearing at Belfast Crown Court ordered him to pay back just £1 of the criminal assets he's alleged to have amassed over the years.

The paper says the police have promised to pursue a man who believes he is untouchable.

The Irish News describes him as "precisely the type of person the Assets Recovery Agency was set up to bring to account", because "he led a lavish lifestyle without any visible means of support".

The News Letter opts instead for a story featuring the BBC, as it reports on criticism of the corporation over its decision to appoint a Muslim as head of religious programming.

The criticism in question comes from the Ulster Unionist Assembly Member the Rev Robert Coulter, who's quoted as saying that no Christian would be appointed head of religious programming in a Muslim country.

A tragic story makes the headlines in Dublin.

Debt

It's the story of the Dunne family, who were all found dead in their home in County Wexford two years ago.

An official report found that debt had driven the parents to kill themselves and their two young daughters.

But as the Irish Independent points out, the investigation found that there was nothing the authorities could have done to prevent the tragedy.

The main recommendation of the report is the establishment of a round-the-clock social worker service, but the government has admitted that there's not enough money.

There's a happier story in the Irish Times, where it's reported that a woman from County Dublin was able to see her family for the first time this week after having her eyesight restored.

Jenny O'Connell lost her vision 46 years ago, but benefited from a surgical procedure that's rare in Ireland.

After the moats, manor houses and manure - as the Sun describes the most recent revelations about MPs' expenses - it's the turn of the Liberal Democrats to feel the heat in the Daily Telegraph.

The latest story does not feature tennis courts or swimming pools, but it does highlight claims for bus tickets, fluffy dusters and toilet rolls.

Smoking

Much of the focus is still on the Conservatives, but David Cameron's order to his MPs to pay back excessive claims is widely praised.

At last, says the Mail, one party leader has had the decency to utter the words the country has been longing to hear.

The Guardian concludes that Mr Cameron's prompt action did for the Tories what Gordon Brown should have done for Labour. The contrast is striking, it says.

Finally, the pub that's beaten the smoking ban.

It's the Cutting Edge pub in Barnsley, where a customer studied the small print of the law and found a loophole.

As the Mail reports, the pub has established a smoking research centre in a separate room.

Customers are allowed to enter the room after filling in a questionnaire about their smoking habits.

The paper says the news caused confusion in Whitehall, with the Home Office and Department of Health referring press enquiries to each other.



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