The top stories in Thursday's newspapers:
THE IRISH TIMES
- Energy groups behind the controversial Corrib gas field off the Mayo coast are as much as €2.5 billion in the red on their investment as Shell's move to sell a stake to a Canadian state pension fund left it with a loss of up to €1 billion, the paper says. Shell has agreed to sell its 45 per cent stake to a unit of the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.
- It also reports that University College Cork has withheld the results of a number of final-year degree students amid allegations of cheating and breaches of exam procedures. Students from the business information systems courses are alleged to have "outsourced" key aspects of a final-year project which involved computer coding, according to college sources.
- Gorse Hill, the Killiney Hill trophy home formerly owned by solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Pat, has sold for €9.5 million to an undisclosed buyer, the paper says. Situated on two acres on one of the best coastal sites in Ireland, the six-bed house was placed on the market in March this year with an asking price of €8.5 million.
- In its business supplement, the paper reports the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has indicated that the scope for expenditure increases and tax cuts in the next budget will be just €300 million. This would mean little room for meaningful tax cuts or spending increases, alarming Fine Gael backbenchers and Coalition ministers alike.
- The FT reports that Paris judges have handed Google a rare legal victory in Europe, finding the company did not dodge French tax laws and would not have to pay €1.12 billion in back taxes. Google was accused of illegally routing its French sales through Ireland to avoid paying higher corporate taxes.
- Aer Lingus owner IAG has called for the UK and Brussels to agree that British nationals would count towards EU ownership requirements after Brexit as rivals and analysts warn that the company could be forced to buy out a quarter of its shareholders or risk being broken up after the UK leaves the EU because of the bloc's 'arcane' airline ownership laws.
- The FT's Big Read is on Brexit as it reports that modern trade is more about rules and standards than import tariffs. The problem of clashing regulations adds to the UK's dilemma of choosing between sovereignty and easy trade ties with the EU.
- In its Companies & Markets section, the paper reports that Ulster Bank owner Royal Bank of Scotland has reached a £4.2 billion settlement with US authorities over mis-selling toxic mortgage-backed securities, marking a big step in the bank's attempt to clean up misconduct issues from the financial crisis.
- Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launched a blistering rebuke to Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, the paper says, describing the behaviour of demonstrators at the Jobstown water protest as "ugly, violent and nasty". Varadkar also said that Murphy owed former Tánaiste Joan Burton and her assistant an apology as the two politicians clashed in the Dáil.
- US President Donald Trump's son admits he badly handled a Russian offer to help derail the campaign of Hillary Clinton as the president defended his son, Donald Trump Junior, declaring him to be the victim of the "greatest witch hunt in political history".
- One million households waiting for their water charge refunds are to be left in the dark until at least the autumn as to when they can expect their money, the paper says, as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe admitted he won't be in a position to offer any clarity before the Dáil breaks for its summer recess.
- The state risks wasting €800 million a year on rental assistance payments instead of building new social housing, a new report has warned. Maynooth University has found that the cost of paying for 87,000 private rental units would be €24 billion more over the next 30 years, or €800 million a year, than if the homes had been built and run by local authorities.
- The paper reports that Paschal Donohoe is to press ahead with ambitious additional spending plans for 2018, despite strong concerns being voiced about the credibility of his figures. The publication of his summer economic statement drew stinging criticism from Labour leader and former public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin who dismissed the figures as "nonsense".
- Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has been told it is vital the government decides on changes to the distribution of the local property tax next year so local authorities can fix budgets, the paper says. The advice will add to pressure on the government to decide on raising the tax in line with house price rises a year ahead of schedule.
- Naval officers organised a whip-around to bail out a number of recruits who had not been paid for weeks, the paper reports. PDForra deputy president Mark Keane said it was "disgraceful" that young recruits had been left waiting up to four weeks to be paid.
- It also reports that a damning internal audit of the Catholic Institute for Deaf People found numerous financial discrepancies as well as excessive spending on its credit cards, including a €155 bottle of whiskey. The internal HSE audit, one of dozens released under the Freedom of Information Act, found the remuneration of the then-chief executive -- at €123,000 at one point - "was in excess of HSE pay scales".