Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Loyalist feud and pagan fears

Mirror Image copyright Mirror

Binge drinking in an area of south Belfast, a loyalist feud in Carrickfergus and claims of bullying make the front pages on Wednesday.

The Irish News says in the last three years the equivalent of 15,000 tins of beer have been seen seized from the streets of Belfast's Holylands.

The paper says in the same period 1,800 complaints of anti-social behaviour have been made.

These included drunkenness, verbal abuse and "loud partying".

Police and other agencies are preparing for large crowds coming to the area on St Patrick's Day, it adds.

'War warning'

Both the News Letter and Mirror lead with intra-loyalist violence in Carrickfergus.

"Loyalist war warning" is the Mirror's front page headline.

The paper says there are fears that the murder of loyalist Geordie Gilmore will spark a feud within the UDA.

Police have dismissed claims that they have lost control of paramilitary gangs in the area, the paper adds.

Meanwhile, the News Letter leads with the fact that one of the bullets fired during the murder of Mr Gilmore passed through the door of a nearby house.

Inside, the paper reports that police are concerned by the possibility of retaliation by associates of Mr Gilmore.

It also quotes local MP Sammy Wilson, who says he fears a serious escalation in the feud and urged young people thinking of getting involved to think of their future.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Jim McDowell says that the UDA's motto is Quis Separabit: Who shall come between us.

"Now, once again, they only have to look in the mirror to find the answer," he says.

'Terrified and anxious'

The front page of the Telegraph features claims of bullying at the NI Prison Service.

It says that that an industrial tribunal has heard that former Maghaberry deputy governor Gary Alcock made tapes of a prison service director allegedly bullying him.

Mr Alcock claims he was treated badly because he was chairman of the Prison Governors' Association.

He told the tribunal that the alleged bullying left him "terrified, anxious, lying awake in a pool of sweat in my bed".

All four papers also feature the tragedy of the Irish coastguard helicopter crash, in which Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was killed and three other crew members remain missing.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Coastguard helicopter pilot Captain Dara Fitzpatrick died after a crash off the County Mayo coast

The Belfast Telegraph says Capt Fitzpatrick helped to save many lives in Northern Ireland.

Both The Irish News and News Letter say she was well-known for her starring role in a fly-on-the wall TV show about the service.

The Mirror says the helicopter showed no signs of being in trouble before it went missing 10 miles off the coast of County Mayo.

Pagan fears

Finally, plans for Northern Ireland's first green burial site have prompted fears of paganism in County Down, the papers report.

A group called Down to Earth is behind the proposal close to the spot were St Patrick was buried in Downpatrick.

However, all four papers report that some residents in the area have raised concerns about "pagan elements", potential contamination of Lough Money and the upkeep of the site.

Down to Earth's Ciara Campbell Crawford says she thinks "people are afraid of the unknown" and that people of faith would be welcomed to the site.

"It is just a calm and peaceful place where people can be buried around nature," she says.