Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Drugs, spies and McIlroy wedding news

Daily Mirror Image copyright Daiy Mirror
News Letter Image copyright News Letter

The heartache of families bereaved by drugs makes for grim reading in Tuesday's papers.

On the front cover of the Irish News, a Belfast pensioner grips tightly to a photograph of her great-granddaughter who died suddenly in the city last week.

The paper says 16-year-old Chloe Hutchings died of a suspected overdose and toxicology tests have been ordered.

It reports that she was discovered in an apartment in Great Victoria Street, along with two unconscious men who were both taken to hospital but later released.

'Shock tactic'

The Belfast Telegraph describes how a grieving father held up a bag of ashes at an anti-drugs campaign launch, saying: "Look at what is left of my son."

William Burns is supporting the "1 Pill Will Kill" campaign following the drugs death of his 23-year-old son, Jamie, last November.

The paper says people attending the launch were "stunned" at the move but Mr Burns told the Daily Mirror he hopes his shock tactic will save lives.

"I've spoken to lads about drugs and said to them 'my Jamie was a strapping 6ft, fit lad but here's how he ended up after taking one pill'. I then handed them a container with Jamie's ashes and told them that's what happened to him."

The Daily Mirror leads with more details about the IRA spy code-named Stakeknife - who was alleged to be the Army's top-ranking agent inside the paramilitary group.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption West Belfast man Fred Scappaticci denies he was an Army agent within the IRA

It says the long-running case is the subject of a "sensational documentary" to be broadcast by the BBC's Panorama programme on Tuesday.

The programme says security forces were warned a police informer was likely to be murdered by the IRA, but appear to have taken no action, in order to protect Stakeknife's cover.

Stakeknife was named by the media in 2003 as former west Belfast resident Freddie Scappaticci, but he has consistently denied the allegations.

Unjustified shooting

The Army's record during the Troubles is explored elsewhere in the papers, after a coroner ruled a soldier was "unjustified" in shooting a "totally innocent" 15-year-old boy in Londonderry in 1972.

Manus Derry was standing at a chip shop when he was struck in the head by a bullet that ricocheted off a wall.

Image caption Manus Deery was 15 when he died after suffering a bullet wound to the head

His sister, Helen Deery, told the Irish News her family's campaign for a new inquest had been vindicated by the ruling.

"I hope other families will persist in justice and persist in truth and know it can be done," she said.

However, the News Letter leads with a report about a protest rally in support of military veterans who are facing criminal proceedings over their actions during the Troubles.

It says a dissident republican group has been granted permission to hold a counter-protest march on the same day in Belfast city centre.

The paper quotes one of the organisers of the veteran's march, who says those attending should behave in a peaceful manner and "not react to any provocation".

The Stormont Three

At Stormont, the "paw-litical" crisis we all thought was resolved rumbled on over the weekend.

The Belfast Telegraph stepped in last week when two pensioners who regularly feed cats at the government building were prevented from doing their good deed, which was deemed to be a security risk.

It was thought the issue had been sorted out, until 76-year-old Edna Watters was again stopped from driving up the hill at the weekend to feed Furby, Maggie and Ginger - dubbed the Stormont Three.

The paper's editorial reflects on how Stormont's top dogs may have struggled to get their teeth into serious security problems such as dissident republican gun attacks and loyalist drug dealing over the years.

Yet, it notes, the folks on the hill have decided to "bring the full force of the state down on a harmless elderly lady".

Supporters of the Stormont Three will be pleased to know that after further talks, and some sausage rolls for the security staff, a comprehensive deal has been reached.

Wedding of the year?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll are set to tie the knot on 22 April

Northern Ireland has produced a few, but not many, truly global star turns so the imminent wedding of golfer Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll has caused a flurry of excitement in all the papers.

The Irish News and others speculate that the venue for the big day will be Ashford Castle in County Mayo, with the Belfast Telegraph "exclusively" revealing that the date will be Saturday 22 April.

All that is missing from the fairytale ending is that elusive green jacket - the customary outfit of golf's Master's champions and the only major tournament McIlroy has not (yet) won.

"Its a great time in my life and it would have been nice to walk down the aisle in the green jacket," the groom said.

Not even superstars can get everything they want.