The top stories in Wednesday's newspapers:
THE IRISH TIMES
- The confidence and supply arrangement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael was under renewed pressure last night as the two parties clashed over the future of water charges. The paper reports that Fianna Fáil has insisted it will not support any form of charging regime, even for excessive use of water by individual households.
- Almost 5,000 Irish people became millionaires last year thanks to a combination of rising asset and property values. The Wealth Report 2017 from estate agent Knight Frank says some 24,900 more Irish people will be millionaires by 2026.
- The Health Service Executive has denied that concerns over the care of vulnerable people in foster care in the southeast were covered up. It also promised that disciplinary proceedings would begin immediately into staff implicated in care failings identified in two reports on the abuse allegations.
- The trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick has become the longest running criminal trial in the history of the state as it entered its 90th day at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.
- Sir Philip Green has paid £363 million to the insolvent pension fund of collapsed store chain BHS in an effort to resolve a contentious corporate failure that threatened the retail tycoon's knighthood and drew a parliamentary rebuke for his bankers at Goldman Sachs.
- A blockbuster auction for the global rights to separate memoirs by Barack and Michelle Obama has reached more than $60 million, according to people with knowledge of the process, a record sum for US presidential memoirs.
- Nissan has told the UK government to spend £100 million to attract component suppliers to the UK or risk the future of its Sunderland car plant. The carmaker said its reliance on overseas suppliers has left its assembly line vulnerable.
- In its Companies & Markets section, the paper reports that South Korean prosecutors have charged Lee Jae-yong, Samsung's de facto boss, with bribery and embezzlement in connection with the country's sprawling political corruption scandal, leaving the company leaderless as it attempts to recover from the fallout surrounding its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.
- The paper also leads with water charges, reporting that Housing Minister Simon Coveney is to risk a general election by facing down an ultimatum from Fianna Fáil over the scrapping of the charges. Coveney believes permanently ending the charges would leave Ireland open to massive fines from the European Union.
- Gangland boss John Gilligan wants taxpayers to fund a new home for him after he lost three properties to the Criminal Assets Bureau, the paper says. The convicted drug trafficker presented himself at council offices in Blanchardstown last week, claiming he is facing homelessness.
- Just one of five Bus Éireann routes set for closure or cuts will be replaced amid fears that more face the axe. The National Transport Authority has revealed it will provide only a single new service to take over when Route 21 from Athlone to Westport closes on April 16.
- In its business section, the paper reports that the Central Bank's deputy governor Cyril Roux is moving to the private sector, making yet another high-profile departure from the regulator. The Frenchma, who is responsible for financial regulation, was appointed in 2013 and will leave the bank in April.
- Two HSE officials directly involved in the Grace foster abuse scandal were promoted to senior roles to protect vulnerable adults at risk of abuse two years after the damning Conal Devine report was completed, the paper says.
- The government has been accused of "presiding over the demise" of Bus Éireann as the country faces into a nationwide bus strike. Transport Minister Shane Ross was attacked for "choosing to do nothing" to avert the dispute with Fianna Fáil called on him to get his chequebook out to solve the escalating crisis.
- Enda Kenny has announced a five-state tour during what is expected to be his final St. Patrick's Day trip to the US as Taoiseach. He will fly straight back to Ireland after his US trip, increasing the speculation around when he will announce his departure date, the paper says.
- The latest unemployment rate of 6.6 per cent for February has prompted Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar to consider "more ambitious unemployment targets". At present, the government is aiming to achieve a jobless rate of six per cent by the end of 2020.