Stormont has until June 29 to form coalition

Northern Ireland received its fourth deadline with direct rule or another election possible if nothing changes NIALL CARSON/PAThe new deadline for forming a powersharing government in Northern Ireland is June 29. James Brokenshire, the British Northern Ireland secretary, has introduced legislation at Westminster that will give Stormont’s parties a three-week window to strike a deal after the UK general election. It is the fourth deadline and follows a stalemate between political leaders with an agreement between the two main parties — Sinn Féin and the DUP — continuing to prove elusive. “Since the Northern Ireland Assembly election on March 2 our focus has been on re-establishing inclusive, devolved government,” Mr Brokenshire said. “The forthcoming UK general election does not change that.

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Religious group threatens maternity hospital

The Catholic healthcare group that is set to own the new National Maternity Hospital has responded to a growing public backlash by suggesting it would pull out of the project. The St Vincent’s Healthcare Group is owned by the Sisters of Charity, who also own the proposed site for the hospital. St Vincent’s said last night that it was going to re-examine the project at its next board meeting, blaming “controversy and misinformation” and citing comments by Simon Harris, the health minister, and other TDs. Opposition politicians condemned the group, saying they were threatening the future of the hospital. The minister did not respond directly to the group’s remarks last night but said in a statement that he was still “fully committed” to the new…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Rangers ‘were virtually broke before Whyte took club over’

The scale of the crisis facing Rangers was highlighted as the trial of Craig Whyte began in Glasgow Andrew Milligan/PAThe finances of Rangers were in a “perilous” state when the football club was sold to Craig Whyte in 2011, a court heard as the trial of its former owner for fraud began. Walter Smith, who had two spells as manager and left three days into Mr Whyte’s reign, agreed that the Glasgow club’s financial affairs were “distressing” at the time with an overdraft of £18 million and banks reluctant to lend the Ibrox side any more money. Mr Smith, also a former Scotland and Everton manager, was appearing as the first witness in the trial and was followed by his successor as manager, Ally McCoist, the club’s former star striker. Mr McCoist, who now describes himself as a football analyst, told the High Court…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Hammond wants to ditch Tory tax pledge

Philip Hammond prompted fears that taxes might rise after the election by making clear that he wants to drop a promise to prevent rises in income tax, national insurance and VAT from the Conservative manifesto. The chancellor made clear his objection to the “tax lock” promised by David Cameron and George Osborne in 2015 which caused the centrepiece of his spring budget to unravel. The Times understands that Mr Hammond is all but certain to remain chancellor. Theresa May is likely to keep the main figures of her cabinet in place after the election, in a move designed to signal stability. This means keeping Mr Hammond at the Treasury, Amber Rudd at the Home Office, Boris Johnson as foreign secretary and David Davis overseeing Brexit.

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

The man behind Munster’s iron defence

He is, according to one of his colleagues on the Munster coaching staff, the best coach he’s ever worked with, and the club’s defensive statistics paint a similarly flattering picture. Munster have conceded fewer tries — five — than any other side on the path to the Champions Cup semi-finals. They have yet to concede a first-half try and they’re by far the tightest defence in the Guinness PRO12. When Saracens come to Dublin this afternoon looking to defend their European title, they come armed with superiority in most areas of the game — but not in defence. They concede almost two penalties more each game, and have conceded two more turnovers per game.

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC



Taxpayer to lose out in Lloyds sale

Lloyds success was “a significant milestone in our plan to build an economy that works for everyone”, according to Philip Hammond GETTY IMAGESThe government has recovered all of the £20.3 billion injected into Lloyds Banking Group to rescue the stricken lender in 2008, but the taxpayer is still likely to end up out of pocket on its bank bailouts. Since the Lloyds share sales began in 2013, the state has raised £20.4 billion and retains a near-2 per cent stake worth almost £1 billion more, the Treasury said yesterday. Philip Hammond hailed the Lloyds stake sale as “a significant milestone in our plan to build an economy that works for everyone”. Despite the chancellor’s comments, the taxpayer may yet be left shortchanged. According to the National Audit Office, the cost of borrowing the money…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Most nurseries decide against extra free hours

Government plans to double free pre-school childcare from 15 to 30 hours per week are in danger of falling apart, with less than half of nurseries enrolled in the scheme months before it is introduced. The policy, announced by David Cameron in June 2015, was regarded as central to presenting the Conservatives as champions of hard-pressed families. From September, when it will be introduced across the country, parents who work more than 16 hours per week and earn less than £100,000 a year will be entitled to 30 free hours of care for children aged three and four, rather than the 15 hours to which they are entitled at present. A survey of 790 nurseries in England found, however, that only 44 per cent planned…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Alcohol in pregnancy ‘has filled our jails’

Irish babies born with foetal alcohol syndrome overwhelm the foster care system and later fill prisons, a HSE public health specialist has said. Women with significant disposable income are most likely to drink during pregnancy because they always have alcohol at home, Dr Mary O’Mahony said. “The women most at risk are those who are earning more than €35,000 a year and who can afford to have a glass of wine in the evening,” she added. “Maternal alcohol intake affects all races and is found in all countries.”The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said there was no safe intake of alcohol during pregnancy, and no safe period of pregnancy at which to drink. At its annual general meeting yesterday, the IMO urged doctors to educate…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

A cold killer leaves Facebook wounded

The atrocity committed by Steve ­Stephens, 37, in Cleveland was the latest in a string of recent crimes circulated onlineMark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, had expected to reveal his company’s vision of the future this week. The killing was watched by more than a million people. Once again it raised questions about the company’s ethical and legal responsibilities in the new media environment. The murder committed by Steve Stephens, 37, in Cleveland was the latest in a string of recent crimes circulated online, often by the perpetrators. Other companies that offer online broadcasting platforms, including YouTube, Twitter and…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Has everyone out there gone completely gaga?

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April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

We’ll deliver top signings this year, says Klopp

Van Dijk is one of Liverpool’s key transfer targets as they look to strengthen their squad during the summer Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty ImagesJürgen Klopp believes that Liverpool have become a more attractive destination for new signings and said “very positive” discussions have already taken place over potential targets. Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk and RB Leipzig’s Naby Keïta are two of the names on the club’s transfer wish-list this summer. Liverpool can strengthen their grip on a Champions League place by overcoming Crystal Palace at Anfield tomorrow and, while Klopp did not discuss specifics, he feels the club’s pulling power is greater than it has been in recent years. “Liverpool at this moment is a really interesting project for players. “It’s a young team, it’s a fantastic club, it’s a good situation where we really can see the…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Fun’s the word at ‘urban resort’ for City slickers

Nick Jones has spent around £200 million converting the former Midland Bank HQ into a a new urban experience, inspired by venues in New York and Chicago RICHARD YOUNG/REXLondon’s financial district may seem an unlikely hipsters’ hotspot, but an “urban resort” hotel in a disused bank could change the City’s image. The man behind Soho House in London will next week open The Ned, a hotel, in the former headquarters of Midland Bank. It will include eight restaurants, 252 rooms, a pool, gym, yoga studio, spa and members’ club. In 2010 Nick Jones, The Ned’s co-founder, purged hundreds of members including bankers and lawyers from Soho House in New York because they were “too corporate”. He says that his new venture, close to the Bank of England, is not a “business hotel” but the venue is likely to appeal to those visiting the City for work.

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Analysts offer some food for thought on M&S

Marks & Spencer climbed to its highest point since June after a senior City analyst started coverage of the retailer with a bullish outlook for its food division. Shares in the high street chain rose 6¾p to 360½p after Barclays initiated coverage of M&S with an “overweight” rating and a target price of 410p. The bank praised the “sensible strategic plan” of Steve Rowe, who became chief executive a year ago, having calculated that the company could “quickly” cut around £45 million of losses. “The clothing and home business is likely to face both short-term (foreign exchange) and long-term (online) challenges, but there are already signs that the new chief executive’s work on pricing and product is being well received,” the bank said. It forecasts…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Ashley takes the direct route to America with deal double

Mike Ashley’s company has acquired 50 Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports by buying the debt of their parent, Eastern Outfitters, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February. The retail tycoon will take charge of the chains after speculation had grown that he wanted to expand through strategic acquisitions. Bob’s Stores, founded in 1954, sells affordable clothes and shoes. Eastern Mountain Sports, which sells paddleboards, is America’s second largest outdoor retailer. A Sports Direct spokesman said: “The acquisition is expected to complete in the first half of May 2017 and will provide Sports Direct with a footprint in…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC

Bruising custody battle exposes high living of alt‑right media star

Alex Jones smoking marijuana on the comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast in California, where it is legalLike all the most potent theories associated with Alex Jones, the argument was outrageous, self-serving and built on the idea of a vast deception practised against ordinary people. The problem is that if the claims in court turn out to be true, the dupes are the radio host’s millions of followers. Through his Infowars website and syndicated radio show Mr Jones has convinced many Americans that the government controls the weather, is lining fruit juice cartons with oestrogen to turn boys gay and staged the Sandy Hook school massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the September 11 attacks to further its own agenda. Mr Jones, often cited as a key figure in President Trump’s election, has spent this week in a courtroom in Austin, Texas,…

April 21, 2017 23:03 UTC




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