The top stories in Wednesday's newspapers:
THE IRISH TIMES
- A cut to the rate of Vat on house building in next month's budget has been ruled out by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, the paper says, adding his stance puts him at odds with Fianna Fáil which has called for the rate to be dropped to nine per cent from 13.5 per cent.
- It also reports that women using fertility treatment to get pregnant will be driven abroad or into "private arrangements with men on the internet" by plans to ban anonymous sperm donation and to create a register of donor-conceived children, fertility specialists have warned.
- The conviction by a Belgian court of the director of the Irish college in Leuven, Belgium over an apartment fire that killed two Irish students in 2014 has been welcomed by their families, the paper says.
- In its business supplement, the paper reports that Lego has launched an overhaul of its business as it announced its first drop in revenues for more than a decade and 1,400 jobs losses.
- Britain is developing a strict post-Brexit immigration policy that will mean tough hurdles to work in the UK for all but the highest-skilled EU migrants, according to a leaked Home Office document.
- Russian's President Vladimir Putin criticised a US-backed push for the hardest UN sanctions yet against North Korea, which the White House is demanding after Pyongyang's test of a big nuclear device.
- The paper reports that Bell Pottinger has hired accountants BDO to advise on a potential sale as the public relations firm fights to retain clients and staff in the wake of two damning reports that found it had stoked racial tensions in South Africa.
- Oxford and Cambridge have for the first time claimed the top two places in global university league tables in a sign that European competitors are strengthening their positions, the paper says.
- Permanent TSB is writing to buy-to-let investors who are in arrears, telling them that if they sell their properties the bank will write off any residual debt, the paper says in its lead story.
- People are routinely ingesting plastic through drinking water from their taps both in Ireland and abroad, a global survey has found. The extent of plastic contamination across the environment is revealed in a new reports by Orb Media, a global non-profit newsroom.
- The cost of rural broadband could rise by up to 60 per cent because of a pricing dispute with Eir, the paper says. Internal government documents reveal a belief that a recent contract with Eir could now push up the taxpayer bill and delay some elements of the rural broadband rollout.
- Homeless charity Depaul Ireland said 14 babies were born into homelessness last year while four babies were also born into homeless in the North.
- Homeowners who paid water charges will receive refunds of between €100 and €160 before the end of the year, once the Cabinet approves the move today, the paper's front page report says.
- The Department of Education allegedly blocked seven separate attempts by officials from schools affected by the fire safety scandal to access inspection reports into the facilities between 2015 and this year, the paper says.
- Companies must tell their employees if their work emails are being monitored, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a landmark privacy case.
- Ireland has the ninth highest number of financial transactions linked to money laundering or terrorist financing in the European Union, according to a new report. The EU police agency Europol says Ireland is third highest for transactions that specifically relate to the suspected financing of terrorism.