Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Abortion pill raids, Catholic 'spongers'

Abortion Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Taking abortion drugs without a doctor's consent is an offence anywhere in the UK under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act

The story of a police raid for illegal abortion pills that happened on International Women's Day makes front-page headlines in the Belfast Telegraph.

The paper leads with the news that the woman at the centre of the abortion pills raid will not face charges.

Helen Crickard's workplace was searched on 8 March by officers with a search warrant. But she told the Telegraph she had received a phone call from police saying no further action would be taken against her.

Ms Crickard lays the blame for the raid at the feet of Stormont's politicians, who, she said, "completely failed to protect women in Northern Ireland by denying them the right to the same healthcare women in the rest of the UK can access".

Image caption Helen Crickard said local politicians were failing to protect women

The paper also reports on a series of arson attacks in Larne, quoting former Sinn Féin councillor Oliver McMullan who says the town is "getting more like Beirut every day".

Happy ever after

There's a Cinderella story to go with the Telegraph's front-page picture of a dog who has found "his forever family".

Shadow was once a starved puppy who was so malnourished he struggled to stand up.

His owner at that time was banned for life from keeping animals because of the suffering caused to Shadow and his mother.

But his tragic story has a fairytale ending, the paper reports: He is now running rings around his dog sister Storm and living the dream with a new adopted family.

The Irish News leads with the headline: "Councillors fail to pay rates - but Stormont won't name them".

The paper says that despite being responsible for spending ratepayers' money, four councillors did not even get their own rates bills paid on time in recent years.

One faced legal action for owing almost £2,000, the paper says and, in the other three cases, the amounts were smaller and were eventually settled.

The paper quotes Alex Wild from the Taxpayers' Alliance.

"There is a clear public interest in the names of councillors not paying their bills being made available so residents can make a better decision next time they vote," he said.

Image caption A police language guide includes words that should never be used to describe Catholics

'Mind your language'

The paper also got its hands on an internal police document advising officers on words they should never use.

There is a list of all the words that should never be used to describe Catholics, Protestants or the elderly. Among the taboo terminology is the word "spongers" for Catholics.

SDLP MLA John Dallat said its inclusion on the list was surprising.

"In many ways, to suggest that it can apply to Catholics is ancient and, I suggest, may spring from the old days when unionists liked to create the impression that they were all hard working whilst the Catholics were on the dole," he said.

The paper quotes a police spokesman who said the document was guidance for officers and was published "with good intentions".

Politics take centre stage on the front page of the News Letter.

The paper's headline stresses that talks on parades "must be key" in any political deal at Stormont. Orangeman Darryl Hewitt tells the paper that parades are as important as legacy issues and "anything else on the agenda."

"Until it is addressed, tensions are always going to be high around the marching season," he said.

The paper notes that he was speaking as the 2017 marching season got under way in Northern Ireland on Monday.

Inside, a series of photographs mark the Apprentice Boys of Derry Easter Monday parade in Ballynahinch.

The News Letter also carries photographs from a dissident republican parade in Londonderry and quotes DUP MP Gregory Campbell who calls them an "unwelcome throwback" to the past.

'Mum on a mission'

The Daily Mirror features "popular Aussie blogger" Constance Hall, "a mum on a mission" who is heading for a gig in Belfast.

The Mirror says her blog following rocketed from 2,000 to 70,000 followers overnight after she posted her thoughts on "parent sex".

But those hoping to catch a few pearls of wisdom may think again: Her Belfast gig is already sold out.