Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Killers' days out and horror films

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

Convicted killers getting temporary release from prison, Brexit, snakes in the grass and "Satanic" films all feature in Thursday's papers.

The Belfast Telegraph says that about 85 killers a year get days out from Northern Ireland jails.

The paper obtained the figures from the Department of Justice after murderer Stephen Scott was seen at his mother's home in Warrenpoint at the weekend.

It says that less than one in 10 requests for leave are turned down.

TUV leader Jim Allister tells the Telegraph: "In Northern Ireland, of course, such prioritising of prisoners is only too common."

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Image caption Murderer Stephen Scott was seen at his mother's home in Warrenpoint

The department's website says: "The range of temporary release schemes has been developed to provide both determinate and life sentence prisoners with structured and planned releases towards the end of their sentences."

The News Letter says that Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson was cheered by fellow MEPs when he told them there is no legal entity called the north of Ireland.

He was speaking during a European Parliament debate on a Sinn Féin-backed call for Northern Ireland to be given special status post Brexit.

The amendment was rejected by 374 votes to 66, in what the paper calls a blow to Sinn Féin's "diplomatic offensive for designated special status".

The Irish News has the story of a health expert from Melbourne, who now lives in County Armagh and says he had to return to Australia to get a GP appointment.

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Image caption The News Letter says that MEPs applauded Jim Nicholson on Wednesday

Jason Calvert, 29, has a rare lung condition and has been trying to get on the books of a practice in Portadown for the last year.

However, he has been put on a waiting list and has not been given a letter of refusal which he needs to register with someone else.

"The irony is that I have private health insurance through work - but I can't get anything done because I need a GP referral," he tells the paper.

As the Irish Open gets under way in Portstewart, all three papers, as well as the Daily Mirror, have pictures of Wednesday's Pro-am event.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jamie Dornan delighted female fans at the Irish Open Pro-am event

Among those pictured taking part are Pep Guardiola, Jimmy Nesbitt, Vernon Kay, Pat Jennings, AP McCoy and, to the delight of female spectators, Jamie Dornan.

The Mirror says that, for once, the weather obliged and there were no shades of grey for actor Dornan.

The News Letter reports that Tory MP and former Army officer Bob Stewart's life was saved by his son when INLA killers came to his house in the 1980s.

He said they asked the 13-year-old if "his daddy was home", but his son lied and told them he was away at work.

Plans to show horror movies such as The Exorcist and The Omen at a derelict Catholic Church on Belfast's Ormeau Road have been condemned by a priest, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The plan is part of the Belfast Film Festival.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are plans to show horror films in a former Catholic church in south Belfast

However, west Belfast priest Fr Patrick McCafferty asks: "What is their motivation for showing these types of films in what was once a sacred building that will have such special memories of spiritual occasions for lots of people?"

The Irish News reports that a prominent barrister is due to be discharged from hospital after suffering a suspected cardiac arrest during a "gruelling 24-hour race" in Belfast at the weekend.

It says Iryna Kennedy was about 32 miles into the event at Victoria Park in east Belfast when she became ill on Saturday.

Catching a snake by the tail

Finally, the Belfast Telegraph has the story of the rescue of a snake in the grass in County Down.

Donaghadee woman Margaret McClean found the orange grass snake in her garden and wrapped it in a pillow case, saving it from a cat who had "got it by the tail".

The paper says that the most common exotic pets in Northern Ireland are ring-tailed lemurs of which there are nine, while there are also six emus, five racoons, two tigers and one wolf.