Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Flash Wednesday, Irish passports and bus driver woes

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

On the front page of The Irish News and the News Letter we hear from the mother of a five-year-old boy who tragically died when he was knocked down by a car when he was riding his bicycle in 2014.

The inquest into the death of Conor O'Neill from north Belfast was held on Wednesday.

His mother, Ciara, described to the inquest how she felt on the day: "I saw Conor, and then the car and I knew my boy had no chance".

'High turn-out'

Image caption It's polling day today and the turnout is expected to be high

It's politics, politics politics on the front page of The Belfast Telegraph. The paper marks election day with a full page given to the news that Northern Ireland heads to the polls today.

It reports that turnout is expected to be high despite it being the second time voters have trudged to the polls in 10 months.

'£10 signature'

From marking your choice on the ballot paper to charging £10 for a signature, the Belfast Telegraph reports "GPs defend £10 fee for signing Irish passport".

The paper reports that a Belfast City Post Office employee said there had been a hike in complaints about the "surprise fees" charged for signing a patient's application form.

However, the British Medical Association tells the paper GPs are under "tremendous pressure".

"Signing a passport is not an essential service and that is why regrettably we have had to introduce a fee," it added.

Image copyright St Patrick's Church
Image caption The Irish News says hundreds availed of the drive-thru service at St Patrick's Church in Glenamaddy

'Religion to go'

You may have heard about the parish in County Galway which held a drive-thru service for those unable to attend the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Patrick's Church in Glenamaddy.

All the papers report on this story - The Irish News says "hundreds" of busy parishioners got their ashes to go, while the Daily Mirror, unable to resist a pun (who can?) heads its story with "Flash Wednesday".

'Wheels on the bus'

If you thought being a bus driver was a cushy number, think again.

In The Belfast Telegraph we hear from two veteran bus drivers from Londonderry with 80 years behind the wheel between them.

Johnny McLaughlin and Noel Christy describe how hi-jacking was commonplace during the Troubles but told the paper they weren't nearly as bad as "being attacked" by drunk people.

Mr Christy describes having a gun held to his head as a "terrifying experience".

But, despite his dramatic career he says bus driving is a "great job" and little kindnesses, such as an unexpected bar of chocolate or word of praise from passengers make his job worth while.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption John Edwards gives the thumbs up ahead of his three-day-stint underground

'Going under'

Claustrophobics can look away now. The News Letter has an unusual sight on its front page. An (alive) man lying in coffin.

The man in question, is John Edwards, who is beginning a three-day stint in a speciality built underground coffin, in Willowfield church in Belfast, to "reach out to those with mental health issues".

The Irish News and Belfast Telegraph also report on his mission. He told the papers his Christian faith has helped him over come addiction.

"I know this is a radical move but people are contacting me who are suicidal or know friends and family who are. My plan is to speak to them from the grave before they get there and show them hope," he said.

It is worth noting that Mr Edwards looks in remarkably good spirits for a man about to spend the next three days underground.