Northern Ireland

Friday's papers: Death of biker and an unlikely 'gay icon'

The front page of Friday's News Letter
Image caption The front page of Friday's News Letter

The destruction of records compiled by a panel reporting on the disbandment of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland makes the front page of the Belfast Telegraph.

Details of what happened to the documents emerged following a request by Catherine McCartney, the sister of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney.

She said she would be reporting their destruction to the Information Commissioner.

The panel was set up in the wake of the murder of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan in 2015.

The Department of Justice said the panel had been "wholly independent" from it and the management of the records was a "matter for the panel".

Two of the panel's three members said they had been given legal advice that as an independent body they did not fall under the auspices of the Freedom of Information Act and that records should be destroyed due to the sensitive nature of their work. The third could not be contacted for comment.

The main image on the paper's front page is that of Wigan rider Jamie Hodson, 35, who died following a crash at the Dundrod 150 National race at the Ulster Grand Prix on Thursday.

Tributes have been paid to the reigning Manx GP Supertwins champion following the incident at the 'Joey's Windmill' section of the circuit.

His brother, Rob Hodson, was involved in the same incident, but was not seriously injured and has since been discharged from hospital.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The death of motorcyclist Jamie Hodson is featured in the daily newspapers

The News Letter front page reports that claims by the LGBT online publication Pink News that four-year-old Prince George "has become a gay icon overnight" have provoked outrage from North Antrim MLA Jim Allister.

In a letter to its chief executive, Mr Allister has called on Pink News to withdraw the article describing it as "outrageous and sick".

The News Letter said it had asked the media outlet to comment on Mr Allister's remarks but had received no response at the time of going to press.

The news that relatives of some of the Omagh bomb victims are to sue Northern Ireland's police chief for failings they believe allowed the killers escape justice also features prominently in the News Letter and The Daily Mirror.

The bereaved families have issued a writ against George Hamilton seeking damages and a declaration their human rights have been breached.

Michael Gallagher, whose son, Aiden, died in the bomb blast, said the families required answers.

"We can't walk away and say 'it's just one of those things'," he added.

The Irish News in its front page reports that one month after an apartment block in Belfast was damaged by an Eleventh Night bonfire, repairs have still not been carried out.

Fire crews stopped the bonfire spreading to the apartment block at Victoria Place near Sandy Row but the building's windows cracked.

The paper says that maintenance for the apartment block is handled by Belfast-based property management firm MB Wilson & Co which said repairs would begin "at the earliest opportunity".

Image caption Repairs to an apartment block damaged by an Eleventh Night bonfire have still to be carried out

Michael Wilson, from the firm, said the damage was being repaired by the building's insurers and glazing contractors had now drawn up a full specification of the work that was required.

Elsewhere, it says the PSNI has apologised for delays of up to two months in processing Access NI checks and said it is working to reduce the backlog.

An Access NI disclosure, which lists an individual's criminal record history and information about them on the police database, is a mandatory requirement for a number of paid and voluntary positions.

One applicant from County Down, who does not have any convictions, said he had recently been told to expect an "eight week" turnaround time while he waits to start a job as a care assistant.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror reports how one bride-to-be ensured her farming fiance would not forget his roots on his big day - by organising his travel to the ceremony by tractor.

TJ Anderson from Donaghadee and bride, Nicola, tied the knot at the Marine Court Hotel in Bangor on Tuesday.

Mr Anderson said the arrival of the vehicle for his send-off topped off a "perfect day".

"My five-year-old son Bailey said, 'Daddy there's ribbons on that tractor!'"