Northern Ireland

What the papers say


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

The Belfast Telegraph anticipates a big shake-up in A Levels.

Northern Ireland's university application process could see some major changes, the most radical for 50 years, according to the paper. That is under new proposals by the admissions service, Ucas, to bring forward the traditional timing of A-level exams.

Universities would no longer make offers to students based on their predicted grades.

The new idea is to bring forward the current A-level exam period by 15 days and base offers on actual results. This is a big story in the London papers too.

The Guardian reports Ucas's claim that the current approach favours the rich. Pupils at private schools, it argues, are encouraged to apply well ahead of the official deadline - and that gives them a better chance of a conditional offer. The Independent says that change is long overdue in university admissions, and it is time to grasp the nettle.


There are new child abuse claims about Lissue Hospital in the Irish News.

The paper has an interview with a Belfast man who is the first person to speak publicly about the abuse he suffered 30 years ago in a hospital at the centre of a child abuse scandal.

John Rooney, who is now a boxing promoter in London, claims to have both experienced and witnessed terrible abuse at the hospital in Lisburn. He described the regime there as "barbaric".

President-elect Michael D Higgins is much to the fore in the Dublin papers.

The Irish Times shows him with jubilant crowds in Galway, welcoming him back to his home city.

The paper's sketchwriter Miriam Lord says there were flags waved and brass bands and dancing in the rain and a huge musical hooley afterwards. In its editorial, the Irish News says Michael D's approach of running on his own record and avoiding attacks on his opponents, helped secure him the presidency. It salutes him as a worthy winner.

Back with the Belfast Telegraph, there is a report on the surreal scenes when local people auditioned for tickets to the MTV awards. They jumped, danced, screeched and screamed for the judges. One participant said: "We had to literally make as much noise as possible and dance like an eejit."

As the paper notes, it was rather unsettling to watch grown men and women become hysterical on demand.

'Better lives'

Adoption reform is the focus in the Times.

The paper has been campaigning for reforms to the system, and it is delighted with David Cameron's proposals to encourage more adoptions and a speedier process. The paper says the state must discharge its duty of care with more urgency and a good deal more attention. It adds that delay in the adoption process denies children the possibility of better lives.

Finally, several papers report on the eviction of Nancy del'Ollio from Strictly Come Dancing.

As the Daily Telegraph notes, she got her marching orders when her Halloween-themed rumba horrified the judges and failed to win public support.

There is a certain amount of cruelty in the papers' farewells. The Mail says she was like "a brickie in a frock trying to put out cigarette butts".

But the Daily Express says it will miss her. "Her rumba may have been rancid and her foxtrot a failure," it says, 'but Nancy was a great sport."

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