The top stories in Wednesday's newspapers:
THE IRISH TIMES
- The paper reports that Gardaí fear that Irish immigration documents owned by one of the three London Bridge attackers, Rachid Redouane, were passed around a group of North African men in Ireland. Detectives are searching for members of Redouane's social circle while he was in Ireland, with two men already arrested and more arrests expected.
- A sharp increase in the number of new homes being built over the next few years risks overheating the economy, the state's fiscal watchdog has warned. In its latest economic assessment, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council said while a stronger supply response was needed to keep prices and rents down, there was a risk that output and employment in the construction sector might increase too rapidly.
- Even moderate drinking is bad for your brain, according to a new study that calls into question Irish guidelines for consuming alcohol. The results, which show that alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of brain damage and a steeper decline in mental skills, suggest Irish drinking limits may be pitched too high.
- The paper reports that public service pay talks adjourned last night as significant divisions remained between the government and staff representatives on a new public service agreement. While no proposals on pay improvements had been formally tabled, it is understood the government was insisting on greater pension contributions from most public-service employees under a new three-tiered structure.
- The FT reports that Theresa May will embark on an eleventh-hour tour of closely-fought Labour-held constituencies amid Conservative confidence that she is heading for a solid election victory in spite of a struggling campaign buffeted by criticism of her handling of the terror threat.
- It also says that investors are growing disenchanted with Donald Trump's administration and sceptical that it will nurture an economic bounce with Treasury yields and the dollar sagging to post-election lows. Markets are also jittery ahead of testimony tomorrow on Capitol Hill by James Comey, the sacked FBI chief.
- The paper reports that the culprit in the IT chaos that grounded hundreds of British Airways flights at the end of May was an electrical technician who inadvertently switched off power to one of BA's Heathrow data centres. The paper says BA is blaming human error for the grounding of 459 of its flights on a busy holiday weekend but IT experts have expressed scepticism that a power outage could have caused such extensive damage.
- France's prime minister Edouard Philippe has promised a summer of "intense consultations" with unions as the government seeks reforms within months to make the country's labour market more flexible, a contentious campaign pledge of President Emmanuel Macron.
- The paper reports that the head of the group representing Garda sergeants and inspectors has rejected Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's assertion that the force is adequately equipped to deal with terror threats here. AGSI president Antoinette Cunningham warned that frontline gardaí had received no counter-terrorism training to deal with an Isil attack.
- A Belgian court heard how two Irish students died in a bathroom of their rented student accommodation when it was destroyed in a fire that broke out in the city of Leuven on January 31, 2014.
- The paper reports that the state exams enter a new era today with a shake-up in the grading system for Leaving Cert candidates and a shorter, new-style written English paper in the Junior Cert. It says the new Leaving Cert grading scheme replaces the traditional ABC system as part of wider efforts to take unnecessary heat out of the CAO points race.
- Irish Rail passengers face the threat of widespread travel chaos during the summer and autumn after the company warned it could not afford pay rises. Members of the National Bus and Railworkers' Union may take industrial action after Irish Rail said it would be "trading recklessly" if it accepted union claims for wage hikes of 3.75 per cent a year up to 2020.
- The paper reports that Gardaí have not changed the threat level here following a further assessment with sources saying that "nothing" has emerged to increase the risk. The level remains at "moderate", the second of five stages, which means a terror attack is possible but not likely.
- The new chief at the country's budget watchdog said the next finance minister will have relatively little to spend in October's budget because so much of the country's corporate tax windfall has been already spent in previous budgets. The 2018 budget only allows for a net €500 million in spending increases and tax cuts, according to the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.
- The paper also says that settlement and compensation payouts by the state to victims of "negligence, incompetence and neglect" in Irish hospitals have totalled almost €500 million since 2011. The amount soared from €58 million in 567 cases in 2011 to nearly €100 million in 1,307 cases last year.
- Amazon has unveiled a smart speaker to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home as the tech giant said it wants to "reinvent home music". The HomePod, to be launched later this year, has six microphones built into it and is powered by Apple's smart assistant Siri.