Northern Ireland

NI Paper review: Grotty grotto and prisoners on the run

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

A "winter blunderland" and a chance to question Theresa May on Brexit are among the headlines in Monday's papers.

"Santa's grotty" is the headline on the front of the Daily Mirror.

Mum of four Gemma Kingham, from Moneyreagh, tells the paper she paid out £147 for tickets for what was billed as a Winter Wonderland at Bangor's Clandeboye Estate.

She said her doubts began when she saw "a series of children coming out of Santa's grotto in tears".

Mrs Kingham said her son asked her why Santa had an elastic band on his beard.

'Shockingly bad'

Other parents recount similar stories in the Belfast Telegraph.

Image copyright Picture courtesy of Andrew Webb
Image caption Parents said the banner behind Santa "kept falling down"

"It was shockingly bad, his [Santa's] beard didn't have a hole in it for his mouth, so he had to pull it down to speak," one of them, Rhonda Elliott, tells the paper.

"Horrified kids were shouting: 'He isn't real!'"

She says the venue was "filthy" and a banner behind Santa kept falling down and had to be held up by parents during photos.

In the News Letter, Paul Breen - who spent £50 for his family of four to attend - says the "ice" in the ice rink was actually plastic slates.

The organisers, Winter Wonderland NI have apologised and cancelled the event, while Clandeboye Estate said it was extremely disappointed it had not met the venue's "usual high standards".

Image copyright Carl Court
Image caption Irish News readers will get the chance to directly question Theresa May on Brexit

The Irish News leads with the opportunity for six of its readers to directly question Prime Minister Theresa May about Brexit.

The paper says the prime minister has agreed to answer six questions from readers about the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland.

Editor Noel Doran says Mrs May's initiative would make a "hugely significant contribution to the wider debate" on the issue.

Readers must submit their question by 08:30 GMT on Tuesday, with six selected to be put to the PM.

Bug checks

"Fears over killer bug checks at child hospital" is the headline on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph.

It says health officials who carried out an unannounced inspection at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in May ordered it to start testing water for pseudomonas, which killed four babies in Northern Ireland in 2011 and 2012.

The paper says that adequate checks to protect patients were not being carried out.

Tensions between the Irish government and the DUP feature in most of the papers and make the lead story in the News Letter.

DUP East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell says that remarks by Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney at the weekend are "worsening a problem which he created".

A picture of Sports Personality of the Year runner-up Jonathan Rea also makes the front page of the paper, as well as the Belfast Telegraph.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jonathan Rea was named runner-up in the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year

Speaking after Sunday night's event, the World Superbike champion said: "It's super nice and it's the icing on the cake of an incredible year for me."

Charitable acts in the run-up to Christmas also feature heavily in the papers.

Both the Belfast Telegraph and The Irish News report on a sleepout by GAA players that is expected to raise £175,000, while the Irish News also features Belfast barber shop the Man Shack's offer of a free haircut, warm drink and food for the homeless.

Finally, it seems a number of prisoners are set to go on the run at Magilligan Prison.

The Irish News says the County Londonderry prison is to become the second in the UK to host a park run for inmates and staff.

Although the official name of the park run will not include the name prison, the entire run will take place within the perimeter walls.