Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Blackmail, floods and Causeway defended

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

A blackmailer's prison sentence, "biblical" floods and a defence of the Giant's Causeway are among the stories making headlines on Wednesday.

The sentence given to the Romanian man whose blackmail led to the death of Tyrone teenager Ronan Hughes features heavily in the papers.

Ronan, 17, from Coalisland, took his own life after he was tricked into sharing intimate images of himself online.

In its front-page lead, the Irish News says that it was initially thought that a Nigerian gang was responsible.

However, police later traced the blackmail to Romania and to Iulian Enache who has been told he must serve three years in prison by a court in his homeland.

Both the Belfast Telegraph and Daily Mirror feature criticism of the length of the sentence.

Image copyright Mid Ulster Mail
Image caption Ronan Hughes took his own life and being the victim of online blackmail

A friend of Ronan's tells the Mirror it is "pathetic" while in the Telegraph MLA Patsy McGlone says: "I and many others would have wished the sentence was more strict and heavier than it was".

"Frazer's UDR dad never a terrorist suspect" is the front-page headline in the Belfast Telegraph.

It says an Historical Enquiries Team letter to victims campaigner Willie Frazer said there was no evidence his father was involved in terrorism.

The paper says this stands in conflict with an MoD report, which linked him to the loyalist Glenanne Gang and to a 1975 double murder.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Willie Frazer received a letter from the HET saying there was nothing to indicate his father was involved in terrorism

The HET document, pictured in the paper, states: "The HET has found no evidence or intelligence to suggest that James Albert Frazer was involved in any terrorist activity."

Staying with Troubles-related matters, the News Letter says that authorities in the Republic of Ireland will be able to "pick and choose what Troubles files they release".

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie, who was present when the British and Irish governments briefed the parties on legacy proposals, tells the paper that it could lead to a "lopsided process".

Floods are very much in the news - both locally and internationally - and the News Letter talks to Chris Bohill, who is originally from Downpatrick but now lives in Houston, Texas.

He describes the floods in the city as "biblical" and says his neighbourhood has been turned into an island.

"Whole areas of downtown are submerged and will be under water for months," he says.

Image copyright Win McNamee/Getty
Image caption The floods in Houston, Texas, have been described as biblical

Closer to home, the Belfast Telegraph talks to residents affected by last week's floods in Northern Ireland's north west.

One Eglinton man tells the paper: "I have lived here for 40 years and last Tuesday everything went in 20 minutes.

"I am at the mercy of the kindness of others, but I have to say the people of Eglinton have been amazing."

Turning to political issues, the DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tells the Irish News that the first tranche of the £1bn package agreed as part of a deal between the Conservatives and his party will not be made available until the upcoming talks process has concluded.

He says the money would either be spent by a new executive or by Secretary of State James Brokenshire brining forward a regional budget.

Talks are expected to resume next week.

Finally, Northern Ireland's most famous tourist attraction is defended in the Belfast Telegraph.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The Giant's Causeway is defended in the Belfast Telegraph

It follows an article in the Irish Times newspaper asking readers to name the most overrated and underwhelming tourist attractions they've visited.

While responses included the Niagra Falls, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Mona Lisa, the paper said the Giant's Causeway came out tops in terms of negative responses.

Councillor Norman Hillis is among those who leaps to defend the famous basalt columns.

"It's unique, it's absolutely stunning and I honestly can't believe how anyone could say it's underwhelming or overrated," he says.

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