Northern Ireland

What the papers say


Mike Philpott takes a look at what is making the headlines in Thursday's newspapers.

The face of a killer looks out from several of the front pages in Belfast.

William Mawhinney is described in the News Letter as the "Bathtub Killer" after being convicted of drowning his partner 15 years ago at their home in Ballymena.

The Irish News says he showed no emotion as the jury returned its guilty verdict. It reports that after the killing he eventually married, moved to England and was investigated when his wife told Cambridgeshire Police that he had spoken of committing "the perfect murder".

The Mirror describes how his daughter broke down in tears while telling the court how she witnessed the killing as a six year-old.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the sad story of Mark Elliott, who would have celebrated his 20th birthday on Thursday, but was struck down two weeks ago by a virus similar to meningitis.

His parents tell the paper that they have decided to speak out about their ordeal to warn others that what they thought was a common cold was actually a killer infection. The only positive aspect of the story is the fact that five of Mark's organs were used in transplant operations. The paper calls on its readers to follow his example and sign up to the donor register.

The main picture in the Irish Times is a wintry scene of people walking through the snow at Government Buildings in Dublin. The Irish Independent shows gardai helping a motorist whose car broke down in the city's rush hour.

But both papers also look at the international bailout in the cold light of day.

"IMF names its price," says the Independent's headline, as it reports that public sector workers will have to meet savings targets within nine months or face pay cuts. The paper says it is just one of a stringent series of conditions attached to the loans from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. The finance minister, Brian Lenihan, is quoted as saying that the government had no option but to accept the conditions.

The Daily Telegraph's main picture looks like a Christmas card, with glowing lights illuminating a snowy landscape. But there is no hint of cosiness in the story alongside. Why did we slide into chaos? is the question posed in its main headline. It is not the only question mark in Thursday's headlines. Where are the gritters? is what the Daily Express and Daily Mail would like to know.

The Independent says the British love a good moan, but it reckons it would make economic sense to invest in fleets of snow-clearing equipment. Even so, it thinks people should be more relaxed. Money that isn't spent today won't disappear, it says, and work that isn't done today can be done tomorrow. The Mirror urges its readers to check on their neighbours.

There are plenty of snowbound cartoons around as well. The best of the bunch, as usual, is Matt in the Daily Telegraph, who takes a wry look at how people have been forced to sleep in their cars or bed down on public transport. His drawing shows a man buying a train ticket. The sales clerk is asking: Will you be staying with us for just the one night?

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