The top stories in Wednesday's newspapers:
THE IRISH TIMES
- The paper reports that senior gardaí sought to cover up financial irregularities at Templemore Garda College for decades, a senior civilian in the force has alleged. Documentation compiled by John Barrett, the Garda's head of human resources, outlines significant concerns over the financial practices in the college.
- It also says that talks on a new public service pay agreement, due to begin within weeks, will see the government trade pay increases for additional pension contributions among thousands of middle-income public service workers. A key battleground is likely to centre on the income threshold above which any new higher pension contribution will apply.
- Golfer Rory McIlroy has signed a new endorsement deal with equipment manufacturer TaylorMade that will boost his bank balance by a further $100 million in a multi-year contract. This latest tie-up with TaylorMade, owned by Adidas, cements McIlroy's status as one of the biggest and most marketable draws in global sport.
- The problem of second-hand sales of concert and sporting tickets has been "vastly" sensationalised and has caused confusion among consumers, according to Ticketmaster. The ticket sales giant has argued against possible legislation to govern the sale of tickets on the secondary market in a submission to the government.
- The paper reports that Ed Miliband's former policy guru held talks in Number 10 with Theresa May's manifesto chief in the clearest sign yet that the Conservatives are moving aggressively to win the Labour middle ground abandoned by Jeremy Corbyn.
- US stocks hit fresh highs yesterday with Apple's market value breaking through $800 billion for the first time as an earnings trade replaces the sol-called Trump trade. The best US earnings season in five year has powered Wall Street to new highs even as the pro-business tax, regulation and infrastructure policies of Donald Trump take longer to appear than investors hoped.
- Jeremy Corbyn tried to close down the issue of Brexit yesterday by saying his party's position was "settled" but he was unable to give a straight answer when asked repeatedly whether a Labour government would definitely take Britain out of the EU.
- The FT Big Read focuses on the Europopulists under the heading 'Europe's reprieve from populism'. It reports that Emmanuel Macron's election victory was a relief to Berlin and Brussels but sluggish growth and tension over immigration will ensure political extremes continue to threaten the establishment.
- The paper also leads with the public sector pay talks, reporting that a major new report to advise the government on its strategy has been criticised for dodging a number of key issues on wages and conditions. The Public Service Pay Commission has offered Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe a blueprint for buying industrial peace with pay hikes and protection of final pensions, the paper says.
- Grandparents and other casual childminders face Garda vetting if they want to access a new subsidy. The new Affordable Child Care scheme requires that childminders be background checked if they are to benefit by up to €1,000 a year.
- The paper also reports that cash-strapped RTÉ gave performance-related pay hikes of at least €1,000 to more than 200 senior managers last year. The broadcaster sanctioned the pay hikes despite planning a redundancy scheme for up to 300 workers as part of a plan aimed at securing its financial future.
- It also carries the story of US President Donald Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey last night. In a statement, Trump said Comey's firing "will mark a new beginning" for the FBI with the search for a new director set to begin immediately.
- The whistleblower who revealed the Garda college financial scandal has alleged he was met with a "deafening silence" by senior officials after raising the scale of the escalating controversy, the paper says in its front page lead.
- It also reports that Project Eagle is facing an inquiry on whether the right strategy was used by Nama to sell the portfolio and if the finance minister acted correctly. The government's agreement to investigate Nama's sale of property assets will pile pressure on Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who recently said there were insufficient grounds for a probe.
- Ireland is among the top countries in the world for subscriptions to Netflix, the global internet TV, film and entertainment streaming service founded in the US. According to a new survey, Ireland is third behind the US and Canada for use of Netflix.
- Almost half a century of forestry and millions of euro in state timber exports have been lost as a result of the gorse fire in Co Galway, one of around 30 fires burning on Coillte land at the moment. The largest fire is in Cloosh Valley, the largest forest in Ireland at 4,000 hectares, or 4,000 soccer pitches, in size.