Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Abused teachers and 'filthy' ambulances

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

Disturbing accounts of attacks on teachers and concern over the cleanliness of ambulances are among the standout stories in Friday's papers.

Pregnant teachers have been kicked and school staff have been bitten during classroom attacks, says the Irish News.

The Ulster Teachers' Union tells the paper one of its members was mistaken for a victim of domestic violence when her GP noticed her injuries.

The issue will be debated at the UTU's annual conference over the weekend.

'Unacceptable'

It is the second Northern Ireland teaching union to highlight violence in classrooms this month.

Bloodstained and "filthy" ambulances are posing a risk to patient safety, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

It says senior staff at the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service are facing sanctions for repeatedly failing to address problems highlighted by inspections.

Image caption A watchdog carried out unannounced checks at 21 ambulance stations

In one ambulance station, bloodstains found by inspectors were still there two months later.

As a result of the continued failure to comply, a health watchdog carried out unannounced checks at 21 ambulance stations last month.

It found some had "unacceptable standards" in terms of hygiene and infection control and has asked the Department of Health to intervene.

Several pages of Friday's papers are dedicated to the closing arguments in the rape trial of two Ulster and Ireland rugby players.

'Male entitlement'

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the same woman in Mr Jackson's Belfast home in June 2016.

The News Letter's headline asks: "Why would she lie?"

It quotes a prosecution barrister asking the jury why the complainant would put herself through the ordeal of a rape trial.

"The shame, the indignity of a physical examination, going to the police reliving al this knowing what is likely to be deployed against her... unless of course she is telling the truth," Toby Hedworth QC told the court.

The Belfast Telegraph and the Irish News both pick up on Mr Hedworth's claim that the case was a "throwback to the days of male entitlement," and that the accused were "not interested" in consent.

However, all the papers report the defence's assertion that the prosecution case is "flawed to its core," as the jury was reminded of the "inconsistency" in the woman's account.

Image caption Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison deny all charges against them

The Irish News follows up on a story it reported earlier this week, which pointed out variations in the amount of money Sinn Féin politicians donate to their party.

Its assembly members are expected to donate a large percentage of their £49,500 salary to the party and accept what is often dubbed an "average industrial wage".

But the figures, from the Electoral Commission. showed that only 14 of Sinn Féin's 27 MLAs donated part of their salary to the party over the last six months of 2017.

'Ballysnackamore'

In a follow-up statement, Sinn Féin tell the paper that several of the MLAs, including Michelle O'Neill, had already made donations during the first six month of the year.

Where is the best place to live in Northern Ireland?

According to the Sunday Times, the top spot goes to the east Belfast suburb of Ballyhackamore.

It was one of five towns and villages in Northern Ireland that made it on to the paper's list of the best places to live in the UK.

Following up on the story, the Belfast Telegraph says the "once unheralded corner of east Belfast" has now been nicknamed "Ballysnackamore" due to its abundance of restaurants, bars and cafes.

But the Friday feeling prize goes to the Irish News, which meets a punk-turned-university-academic from Belfast's Shankill Road who once toured with The Pogue's frontman, Shane MacGowan.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Shane MacGowan became known for his hard drinking lifestyle

Thomas Paul Burgess recalls how Macgowan once turned up for an appearance on a Saturday morning children's TV programme with a "bottle of port in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other" and was slugging from both.

To mark the singer's recent 60th birthday, Dr Burgess has written a new song called 'Shane MacGowan's Smile".

The paper says it contains the rousing chorus: "They say he's made of iron, some say he's hard to kill.

"They say he's quit the gargle, some say he never will."