What Friday's papers say
US move could set up steel showdown; Eir seeks €56m from state; Harris hospital pledge
- The Irish Times says Health Minister Simon Harris has promised key protections against "religious interference" will be put in place before the move of the National Maternity Hospital to St Vincent's hospital goes ahead.
- The paper says tax incentives or grants to allow for the refurbishment of vacant properties could be extended to include towns as well as major cities as part of efforts to resolve the housing crisis.
- The Irish Times says US president Donald Trump has signed a new executive order directing a review of steel imports, most of which come from China, sparking fears that the world's largest economy could be embracing protectionism.
- The paper reports that investor MML - whose backers include Enterprise Ireland, AIB and the European Investment Bank - has bought a minority stake in Fastway Couriers for a figure said to be about €12m.
- The Financial Times leads with the US steel move, saying the country has set the stage for a global showdown by launching a national security probe that could lead to sweeping tariffs on steel imports in what would be the first significant act of protectionism by Donald Trump.
- The FT says Brussels is pushing for EU workers in Britain to enjoy the full range of EU rights for their lifetimes, enforced by the European Commission and overseen by European courts.
- In companies news, the paper says leading shareholders in miner BHP Billiton, which is coming under pressure from activist hedge fund Elliott Advisors to spin off its oil business, want the company to go further and look at demerging its entire business involved in crude and gas production.
- The FT reports on a study from France's medical authority, which found that a drug made by Sanofi to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorders that was given to pregnant mothers resulted in up to 4,300 children being born with significant birth defects. The drug has been sold in a number of other markets.
- The Irish Independent leads with the CSO's housing figures from Census 2016, saying they show that thousands of families remain trapped in unsuitable accommodation as the average age of first-time buyers has rocketed to 35.
- The paper reports on a study by Revenue which shows sizeable price differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The paper says shoppers have the most to gain by going North for alcohol, but staying south of the border for diesel.
- In business, the Irish Independent says telecoms company Eir wants the state to pay it €56m for having kept rural phone lines going in recent years. Under the current regulatory system, Eir is expected to service rural homes and businesses with phone lines by itself.
- The paper says Mountpark Logistics EU has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanála to go ahead with the development of a €40m logistics and industrial hub at Baldonnel in south county Dublin. Construction is expected to get under way this summer.
- The Irish Examiner says Planning Minister Simon Coveney is being urged to reverse a decision to grant a licence to a biotechnology company, Tralee-based BioAtlantis, to mechanically harvest 1,860 acres of native seaweed forest in Bantry Bay.
- Labour leader Brendan Howlin has told the paper he will speak to "everybody" after the next election - including Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, rejecting suggestions that the party should stay out of power to continue rebuilding.
- In business, the Examiner quotes analysts as saying that the prospects for the Government's securing more than €3 billion from its sale of AIB shares could brighten this weekend if French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen polls poorly in the first round of presidential elections.
- The paper says figures from the Central Bank show that more than 11,500 complaints were made to motor insurers in the second half of 2016, with more than half relating to pricing.