What Friday's papers say

Voters 'prefer new abortion amendment'; FF says no EU water threat, refunds likely; anger at latest Ashley buy

3rd March, 2017
The main headlines from today's newspapers

IRISH TIMES

- The Irish Times leads with figures from its Ipsos MRBI opinion poll which show that there is stronger support among voters for a new constitutional amendment regulating abortion than for repealing the Eighth Amendment. Replacing the Eighth with a more liberal provision is favoured by 38 per cent of voters, against 28 per cent who want to see the current constitutional ban removed completely. The paper says there is strong support for making abortion legal in a number of limited circumstances, such as rape, incest or child abuse.

- The paper reports on research carried out by Dublin architect Mel Reynolds, which warns that the Government's plans to accelerate housing supply are likely to fail and lead only to more young people being priced out of the market. Reynolds finds that, over the last 40 years, increasing the supply of new private sector homes has never once led to a reduction in property prices.

- The Irish Times says thousands of pensioners receiving overseas retirement income could find themselves facing fines and even prosecution if their tax affairs are not in order by May. Almost 135,000 Irish residents were in receipt of British state pensions as of last August.

- The paper says telecoms company Eir has initiated High Court proceedings against regulator ComReg, claiming the body has overstepped its remit by imposing a new obligation on the company to fix lines faults within two days.

FINANCIAL TIMES

- The Financial Times leads with yesterday's Snap flotation, saying the US broke a long drought of big technology listings as shares in the company soared more than 40 per cent on their debut despite questions over governance and profitability.

- The FT says Sports Direct's billionaire owner Mike Ashley has acquired an interest in lingerie brand Agent Provocateur after the maker of cuffs and corsets slipped into insolvency. The brand's founder Joseph Corré has criticised the sale, saying another bidder had offered more than Ashley.

- The paper says Swiss-French cement company LafrageHolcim admitted yesterday that "unacceptable" measures had been taken to keep its Syrian plant open, following allegations staff had dealt with armed groups during the country's violent civil war.

- The FT says Merlin Entertainment has blamed the impact of terrorism fears on visits to attractions such as Madame Tussauds and the London Eye for holding back its profits. Chief executive Nick Varney said there had been a "significant fall" in visitor numbers to London after attacks in Paris and Brussels last year.

IRISH INDEPENDENT

- The Irish Independent says almost one million households can expect water charge refunds of up to €325 as part of a compromise between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over the issue. The paper says the parties are still at loggerheads over the total abolition of charges but it understands Housing Minister Simon Coveney has accepted there is no point chasing people with unpaid bills.

- The paper says Health Promotion Minister Majella Corcoran Kennedy has proposed a revision of Irish ice cream laws dating back to 1952. One of the stipulations in the regulations states that ice cream must contain at least 10 per cent by weight of sugar, presenting problems for companies wishing to reduce the sugar content of their ice cream products.

- In business, the Irish Independent says a €50,000 report on the impact of the help-to-buy scheme for first-time buyers is to be delivered to the Department of Finance by the end of August. Finance Minister Michael Noonan is commissioning external consultants to find out if the scheme has resulted in house price inflation.

- The paper says plans for a merger of Munster credit unions have hit a stumbling block, with members of the financially-stronger Clonmel Credit Union opposing a tie-up with troubled Charleville CU.

IRISH EXAMINER

- The Irish Examiner reports on legal advice published by Fianna Fáil, which says Ireland is not subject to the spectre of massive fines or penalties for scrapping water charges thanks to the freedom available to member states to set their own rules over the EU's water laws. The paper says the move was aimed at pressing the Government to justify its reasons for not permanently scrapping household water charges.

- The paper says Fianna Fáil defence spokeswoman Lisa Chambers has written to the Taoiseach warning that health and safety reports dating back over 20 years that raised concerns about working conditions within the Air Corps may have been destroyed. The state is facing six legal claims from former staff who claim their chronic illnesses were caused by working conditions at Casement Aerodrome.

- In business, the Examiner reports on an analysis by rating agency Moody's which says that a hard Brexit and US plans for tax reforms are the biggest risks facing Ireland's long-term prosperity. The analysts said Brexit could disrupt trade across the Irish Sea more than was initially thought and warned that some form of border controls between the Republic and the North were likely to re-emerge.

- The paper says Waterstones Ireland doubled its profits to €1.9m in the 12 months to the end of April 2016, quoting Waterstones chief executive James Daunt as saying that overall the firm's Irish stores "are in a happy place" despite disruption to its Hodges Figgis store in Dublin by Luas works in Dublin city centre.

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