What Friday's papers say

EU to recognise united Ireland potential; KBC to shake up mortgage market; Coveney reassures on land deals

28th April, 2017
The main headlines from today's newspapers

IRISH TIMES

- The Irish Times leads with the row over plans to relocate the National Maternity Hospital to a religious-owned site at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin. It says the plans have suffered a fresh blow with the resignation of Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, the doctor charged by the HSE with planning the project.

- The paper says Housing Minister Simon Coveney, who is facing calls to double property tax bills on houses left vacant for more than two years, has confirmed that he is considering the introduction of a levy. It is estimated that 168,000 houses are idle.

- In business, the Irish Times says KBC Bank Ireland is set to increase competition in the mortgage market by cutting three of its fixed-interest rates by up to 0.35 points. It also plans to increase the sum it pays to those switching their home loans from another bank.

- The paper says Independent News & Media has postponed its annual general meeting, which was due to take place next month, but the paper says it can delay facing shareholders only until the beginning of September under corporate law.

FINANCIAL TIMES

- The Financial Times says European leaders are preparing to recognise the potential for a united Ireland within the EU, confirming that Northern Ireland would seamlessly rejoin the bloc after Brexit in the event of a vote for Irish reunification. Diplomats are planning to ask EU leaders to endorse the idea at a summit tomorrow.

- The FT reports on comments from the former head of the Treasury, Nick Macpherson, who has said Theresa May must abandon a promise not to raise taxes or she will condemn Britain to running a permanent deficit.

- In companies news, the paper says Lloyds Banking Group doubled profits in the first quarter, reporting £1.5 billion of pre-tax earnings despite being forced to set aside £450m for payment protection insurance mis-selling and the HBOS scandal.

- The FT says the Guardian newspaper is considering a move from London to the historic Granada TV studios in Manchester and has made inquiries about temporary city centre apartments to tempt its staff to move north.

IRISH INDEPENDENT

- The Irish Independent reports that dedicated space for private practice will be provided in the controversial new National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent's Campus, adding that the Merrion Fertility Clinic - which treats public and private patients - plans to move there from its current location beside Holles Street.

- The paper quotes Housing Minister Simon Coveney as saying that agreements between local authorities and developers to use publicly owned land for housing will be "fully transparent" and designed to get maximum use from the state's extensive land bank.

- In business news, the Irish Independent says AIB chief executive Bernard O'Byrne has urged the Government to pull the trigger and return the state-owned bank to the stock market by the summer rather than wait for the second half of the year. He said all the requirements for a successful initial public offering were there.

- The paper has learned that two members of the board of Independent News & Media will be reclassified as non-independent, non-executive directors. According to its most recent annual report, five non-executive directors were considered to be independent by the INM board.

IRISH EXAMINER

- The Irish Examiner says the Government has been put on notice of possible legal action to stop the development of the new €1 billion children's hospital at the St James's hospital campus in Dublin. Fin Breathnach, a spokesperson for Connolly for Kids, confirmed that the group, which has long opposed the move, was taking legal advice to see if it could challenge the decision.

- The paper says Health Minister Simon Harris has refused to be drawn on who he is backing to replace Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, despite reports he has attended closed-doors meetings of Simon Coveney's campaign team.

- In business, the Examiner reports on comments from AIB chairman Richard Pym, who told shareholders its failure to comply with anti-money laundering reporting procedures was "a stain" on the bank and that there was "no excuse".

- The paper says shares in British explorer Europa Oil and Gas climbed 6 per cent yesterday on the back of the company's effectively doubling the reserve estimate at one of its chief prospects off the west coast of Ireland.

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