Northern Ireland

What the papers say

newspaper title

Journalist Keith Baker takes a look at what is making the headlines in Monday's newspapers.

Who knows how many hundreds of pictures have been taken of Alex Higgins over the years... but this morning the The News Letter and the Belfast Telegraph front pages feature exactly the same one.

It is a classic black-and-white shot of the snooker star in the 1980s, hunched over the table, cue poised.

"Farewell to a flawed genius" reads The News Letter headline.

The Belfast Telegraph adds the words: "Hell raiser, maverick and legend".

Reporter Lindy McDowell recalls seeing him at the La Mon House Hotel following George Best's funeral.

She says he sat at the side of the room with his head bowed, alone with his drink and his thoughts.

Those who spotted him there were struck by the poignancy of that sight, she says, and his lonely death in a small flat in Belfast makes it even more poignant.

The Irish News also carries a striking picture on the front page - it shows a young girl laying flowers at the Higgins mural off Donegall Road in Belfast.

In an editorial, the paper calls him "an edgy rebel, the first of the snooker superstars who brought colour and excitement to a sport often lacking in both".

'Lavish funeral'

The News Letter wants us to remember him like that - at the peak of his career.

The Sun says the cash raised for his medical treatment will fund "a lavish funeral".

And there is the accolade of a full page obituary in The Times which says he had the capacity to create a riveting spectacle of almost every frame played... but ultimately, it says, he was undone by his volatile ego.

In its lead story, The Irish News says Northern Ireland's most senior Accident and Emergency consultants have told the Chief Medical Officer they have serious concerns about their casualty departments.

It says seven top doctors held a meeting with Dr Michael McBride and other top officials. Safety was the number one issue discussed.

The Irish News gets its information from a whistle-blower who fears that something very bad is going to happen as overstretched medics struggle to cope with soaring patient numbers and fewer resources.

There is more whistle-blowing in The Guardian - one of the papers carrying the massive leak of secret files about the Afghan war.

There are 14 full pages on the subject and an editorial in which the paper says the picture presented is not of an Afghanistan that either the US or Britain is about to hand over gift-wrapped with pink ribbons to a sovereign national government in Kabul.

Miami film

In the Dublin papers, the The Irish Times says a feature film is being planned about the Miami Showband Massacre in 1975.

This would put the story of one of the most horrific events of the Troubles on to the big screen, the paper says.

Guitarist Steven Travers, one of the survivors, was the co-author of a book on the subject and he says they have been approached by four movie companies.

Elsewhere, the Irish Independent says householders in the republic face a double whammy of a property tax and water charges in the Budget later this year. The lower paid will also be brought into the tax net, it says.

Finally, it may be the holiday season but The Mail says many people are spending their holidays at home, but they are trying to create a faraway feel by buying a record number of palm trees.

According to one garden centre, they want to have a piece of the Med or the Caribbean in their back garden so that they can imagine what they might see from their hotel balcony.

There is a cartoon with this. It shows two castaways on a tiny desert island looking at a tree stump. One says: "I got rid of the palm. It reminded me too much of home."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites