What the papers say


Journalist Fionola Meredith takes a look at Tuesday's newspapers.

The Irish News leads with the controversy following the Police Ombudsman's report on the McGurk's bar bombing.

It says that relatives of those murdered in the bombing have reacted angrily to PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott's response to the Ombudsman's investigation.

Mr Baggott acknowledged the hurt caused to victims but the families say that his response "falls very far short of the apology which the families deserve and which the circumstances demand".

As the paper's editorial points out, "not only the lives but the reputations of the victims were taken".

It believes that the Ombudsman was effectively telling Mr Baggott that a straightforward apology to the relatives would settle the matter once and for all.

The fact that none was forthcoming the paper describes as "unfortunate".

The Belfast Telegraph editorial agrees, saying it was "shameful that lies peddled at the time, that the blast was an IRA own goal, should have continued to besmirch the reputation of those who suffered most". It says the families deserve to hear someone simply say sorry, adding - is that too much to ask?

The Hazel Stewart trial remains in the headlines.

The Belfast Telegraph focuses on Stewart's claim that she was "easy prey" for Colin Howell.


Describing herself as soft, weak and vulnerable, she said she was terrified of her lover and feared he would kill her if she tried to end their relationship.

The News Letter says the court also heard how Stewart told detectives that she was a "tormented woman", and that her arrest had ruined the lives of her family. But she insisted that she had not agreed to any part of the plan to murder.

Elsewhere, there is extensive coverage of the crisis in Libya.

The face of Colonel Gaddafi stares out inscrutably from many front pages.

Describing him as "the old, paranoid crazed fox of Libya", Robert Fisk in the Independent asks whether - after four decades of terror and oppression - Gaddafi is finally on his way out.

Most papers agree that his regime is on the verge of collapse.

The Times says that despite a wave of defections by disgusted officials - and a chorus of international condemnation - Gaddafi appeared to be stopping at nothing in his efforts to crush the insurrection.

It reports that war-planes have attacked pro-democracy protestors in Tripoli.

The Guardian says Gaddafi is "lashing out as power slips away".

The Sun and the Mail report that he has fled the capital, Tripoli. A "tyrant on the run", as the Mail puts it.

But the Irish Times says it's feared that Gaddafi's instinct will be to tough it out.

'Dove stuck in throat'

It says "he is not going to roll over, and Libya's courageous youth may have to pay a heavier price to displace this vainglorous tyrant".

And finally, the Mail reports on the cat with an unusually loud purr.

Purring is normally a soothing sound of contentment, but when Smokey the cat start to purr, her owners reach for the ear plugs.

The paper claims that Smokey's purrs can reach an incredible 92 decibels, the same as a Boeing 737 coming in to land.

Most cats produce about 25 decibels. Smokey's owners say the 12-year-old British short-hair can drown out TV and radio shows. They describe her purr as "sounding as if she had a dove stuck in her throat".

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