Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Olive branches and fake prison fights

Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily mirror
News Letter Image copyright News Letter

The twisted demands of a blackmailer, an "olive branch" rejected, a breast-feeding ban and fake prison fights feature in Friday's papers.

The Irish News reveals how the Romanian criminal who blackmailed County Tyrone teenager Ronan Hughes also preyed on Ronan's friends.

He warned them that Ronan, 17, from Clonoe, was considering suicide, the paper says.

"If you are really a friend of Ronan, then you will try to help him not be successful," he wrote.

"If you and your friends cannot raise this sum, or if your parents alone or with you cannot do that, I will send those videos to all of my friends on Facebook, teachers... and it will be your responsibility."

Image copyright Mid Ulster Mail
Image caption Ronan Hughes took his own life after online blackmailing by a Romanian criminal

By the time some of these messages arrived in June 2015, the schoolboy was already dead, having taken his own life.

Both the Belfast Telegraph and News Letter lead with a rejected "olive branch" from DUP leader Arlene Foster to Sinn Féin over the Irish language.

Mrs Foster pledged to legislate on the Irish language should the assembly be restored.

"SF snub for Irish language gesture" is the headline in the Telegraph.

It quotes Mrs Foster as saying new talks would be a waste of time "unless there is some new thinking".

The News Letter's Sam McBride says Mrs Foster's proposal represented "a major change of both tone and strategy on Irish legislation".

The story is also covered in the Irish News, accompanied by a picture of a beaming and seated Mrs Foster being given a standing ovation from her party colleagues.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Arlene Foster told her party that talks would fail without some new thinking

Meanwhile the Daily Mirror leads with Portstewart mum Lisa Wilson who says she was left feeling humiliated after being told she couldn't breastfeed her baby son, Oliver, in a Pizza Express restaurant in Belfast's Victoria Square.

"We were told there was no breastfeeding in the restaurant, like it was shameful even to consider," she tells the paper.

Pizza Express has apologised, saying breastfeeding is welcomed across all its outlets.

Farmer's murder

The Belfast Telegraph also reports on a radio interview given by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in which he was asked about the IRA abduction and murder of County Louth farmer Tom Oliver in 1991.

The paper says that it has emerged recently that police in the Republic of Ireland are refocusing on the murder.

When asked about it in an interview with LMFM radio, Mr Adams said: "I would have a very strong position, while defending the right of the family to prosecutions... I think it [jailing the killers] would be totally and absolutely counterproductive".

He also described the murder as a "politically motivated killing".

The News Letter continues to look through newly released NIO files and features 1990 correspondence of JM Steele of the prisons department.

Image caption An NIO document says that republicans and loyalists engaged in sham fights in prison

He says that republican and loyalist paramilitary leaders in prison had done everything they could to re-establish segregation.

"It is significant that during the fights of so-called sworn enemies, prisoners generally emerge either uninjured or with relatively minor bruising, while those staff who intervene to stop the fight often receive serious injuries," Mr Steele wrote.

Both the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph report on Clonoe GAA player Aaron Elliot who was critically injured after being hit by a car in a suburb of Philadelphia.

The Telegraph says that 22-year-old Mr Elliot was found without a pulse after being hit by the car in Jenkintown on Saturday night and that he was rushed to hospital with serious head injuries.

Happily, the paper says he is making a "miracle recovery", although he faces a long journey back to health.

Finally, the Irish News reports that a Tyrone woman was denied entry to Croke Park on Sunday because she did not have a ticket for her nine-week-old baby who was strapped to her chest.

Image caption The GAA has said that everyone, even nine-week-old babies, must have a valid ticket for matches

"We have three children and have taken the kids to matches before and there has never been any bother," the woman's husband tells the paper.

After querying the issue with the GAA, the couple received an email stating that all people attending games must have a ticket "for health and safety and insurance reasons".