Northern Ireland

What the papers say


Journalist Fionola Meredith takes a look at what is making the headlines in Tuesday's newspapers.

Health stories once more dominate the front pages of the local newspapers.

The Belfast Telegraph leads on a report into an outbreak of the superbug C. diff in Northern Health Trust hospitals.

Families of victims have accused health bosses of failing to accept blame for the scandal and the Telegraph's editorial expresses similar concerns.

It says that considering the outcry that the management of NI Water faced for its failings, health managers should be held to account in the same way.

After all, it points out, no-one died because of the water shortage.

Meanwhile, the Irish News claims an exclusive for its report that health chiefs are planning to impose "substantial" fines on hospitals where patients wait more than 12 hours for treatment in Accident and Emergency departments.

By way of example, it says that the Northern Health Trust could face a colossal bill over what the paper calls its "disastrous" waiting times - with 621 patients waiting more than 12 hours for treatment in January.

But one leading doctor is not keen, telling the paper that the move will only strip away funding from already under-resourced hospitals.

'Closing in'

The Inga Maria Hauser case is the other big lead.

Both the News Letter and the Telegraph say the net is closing in on the killer of the teenage German backpacker, 23 years after her murder.

The News Letter says police believe they are "tantalisingly close" to solving the case, one of Northern Ireland's most notorious crimes.

Elsewhere, prize-winning author Lionel Shriver is very much to the fore, following her decision to bequeath money to Belfast libraries.

American-born Shriver lived in Belfast for 12 years and she tells the Telegraph it still feels like home.

Several papers focus on a dispute between Downing Street and the military.

As the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Mail report, David Cameron and his ministers are embroiled in a public dispute with Britain's senior military officer, amid growing questions about the next phase of the mission in Libya.

The Mail says Number Ten "slapped down" Chief of Defence Staff, Sir David Richards, after he flatly rejected ministers' suggestions that Colonel Gaddafi was a legitimate target.

The paper says that the public spat, just days into the operation, highlights growing tensions about "mission creep" in the assault on Gaddafi.

In its editorial, the Telegraph describes the row as "an unedifying muddle".

It says that when the armed forces are put in harm's way, they are entitled to expect absolute clarity about their mission.

True drama

Finally, the Irish Times reports on a piece of theatrical sword play that went wrong.

As the paper's arts editor Shane Hegarty reports, you cannot have Hamlet without the prince, and a sword-fighting accident cut short a production of the play in Cork on Monday.

When actor Conor Madden collapsed during a pivotal duel scene, the audience first of all thought it was part of the action - until they realised that Hamlet's wails of pain were real.

He had been caught under the eye by the tip of Laertes' sword.

Madden is not the only actor to get accidentally injured on stage.

In 1998, Michael McElhatton was stabbed during a play at Dublin's Peacock Theatre and was rushed to hospital - but only after having carried on to the finale.

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