Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Papers focus on fallout from Fermanagh 'horror'

Daily Mirror front page 17th May Image copyright Daily Mirror
News Letter front page Wednesday 17th May Image copyright News Letter

The papers focus on the fallout and shock from the "Maguiresbridge horror" - the description the Belfast Telegraph gives to the murder of Concepta Leonard and attempted murder of her son, Conor.

"Concepta lived in fear of crazed ex" says the front page of the Daily Mirror.

Inside, it reports the words of a friend that Ms Leonard was "terrified" of Peadar Phair, who is believed to have attacked her before taking his own life.

"She brought their relationship to an end but he just wouldn't accept it," the friend said. "He kept turning up and begging her, then threatening her.

"He said he couldn't live without her and wouldn't leave her. In the end she was terrified and she ensured she was never alone in the house at night."

The Mirror also reports that Ms Leonard was due to face Phair in court on Wednesday over a restraining order she had taken out against him.

Image caption The incident happened in the Abbey Road area

Likewise, the Irish News reports that Ms Leonard had been "harassed in the months leading up to her murder".

A relative of Ms Leonard said the family "knew she was having trouble with Phair".

"There was an order in place. Even at that you still don't expect this. It's hard to find words, we're just devastated. She was just devoted to Conor."

The front page of the Belfast Telegraph focuses on Ms Leonard's son Conor: "Son fought with his mother's murderer".

The newspaper reports that Conor, who has Down's Syndrome, has been hailed as a hero after struggling with Phair before being stabbed in the stomach. He is in a stable condition.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption It is believed Peadar Phair, 55, had moved away from the area a number of years ago

A neighbour told the newspaper that Phair was "a monster and it was no wonder Connie wanted rid of him".

The News Letter picks up the thread of the mother-and-son victims with their front-page headline: "Tragic Connie 'totally devoted to son'".

A friend of Ms Leonard's told the paper that "she was truly a lovely person who always had a smile for everyone".

"Music was her life and she was a fantastic accordion player but was also completely devoted to Conor... what happened to Concepta is really tragic and everyone is in shock."

Elsewhere, the front pages of the News Letter and the Irish News find room to report that Barra McGrory, the head of Northern Ireland's Public Prosecutions Service (PPS), will announce he's stepping down later on Wednesday.

Both papers reflect on criticism levelled at Mr McGrory in the past year over prosecutions of Army personnel for Troubles-related deaths, criticism that the PPS director has rejected.

Inside the Irish News, meanwhile, the paper reports about flag problems at the recent North West 200.

It says that Irish tricolours were removed from flag poles on a spectators grandstand three times.

The paper reports that the race's director Mervyn White intends to lay on extra security to prevent anyone meddling with the flags next year.

"They are utter vandals and it really annoyed me," he said.

Meanwhile, the man in charge of searching for Northern Ireland's Disappeared tells the Belfast Telegraph that he believes the remains of Keith Bennett, the only missing victim of Moors murderer Ian Brady, will never be found.

Brady died on Monday night. Geoff Knupfer, who was part of the team that searched for the remains of Keith Bennett and another victim, Pauline Reade, in the 1980s, says it's extremely unlikely his body will ever be found.

"You're talking about a remote peat bog in the middle of the Pennines. The chances of it being found, even at the time, were small.

"I'm sure that we searched the area faultlessly. There have been several searches by police and by others, and I'm as satisfied as I can be that the body is gone, unfortunately."

He also says that he's "equally satisfied" that Brady "didn't know where the body was".

Image copyright Pacemaker

Back over in the Daily Mirror, there's a double-page spread dedicated to former boxing world champion Barry McGuigan ahead of a fly-on-the-wall documentary on Wednesday night.

The programme follows Barry and his son, Shane, the trainer of Carl Frampton, as they navigate their way through the sporting and promotional realms of boxing.

McGuigan tells the Mirror that his camp is "one big family".

"My son, Shane, trains, the other two boys look after the business side and I'm the motivator, the one who gets the fighters back up again when they're down. We're all very close and the guys in the team are like family to me too."

Finally, the News Letter reports on the delight of a 90-year-old woman from Londonderry who spoke after her great-great grandfather's remarkable service to the Army 200 years ago was recognised.

Ruby Jordan's ancestor, Daniel Gallagher, served in some of the most famous battles of the early 19th century but was denied a medal on a technicality. However, Ruby's persistence was rewarded on Tuesday.

"I thought that it wasn't really fair that he didn't get the medal. He was in every battle," she said.