Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Mental health and costly benches

front page of the daily mirror Thursday 5th April 2019 Image copyright Daily Mirror
front page of the News Letter Thursday 5th April 2018 Image copyright News Letter

Youth mental health figures, costly bench replacement and online grooming all feature in Thursday's papers.

The Irish News reports that a man has been arrested in England as part of an investigation into online grooming at a football club in north Belfast.

The paper reports that a man posed as a 14-year-old girl to target victims.

On Wednesday, the National Crime Agency (NCA) visited the homes of those impacted.

Image copyright Simotion
Image caption It is alleged that a man posed as a 14-year-old girl to target victims

Chairman of St Patrick's Football Club told the paper they became aware of the issue once it was raised by a parent.

He added that his club is "not the only club in Northern Ireland" to be targeted.

The PSNI have said they are helping the NCA with "their enquiries into an ongoing operation".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A third of young people said they felt hopeless

'Shocked but not surprised'

The front page of the Belfast Telegraph reads: "Half of NI youth in mental distress".

The paper reports that a survey conducted by the Prince's Trust has shown that a third of young people admitted to feeling hopeless.

Over 2,000 across Northern Ireland 16-25-year-olds took part in the survey.

SDLP health spokesperson Mark H Durkan told the paper he was "shocked but not surprised" at the statistics.

Reinstalling benches

It has cost Belfast City Council almost £3,000 to replace benches which they removed before Christmas, reports the Irish News.

One reason the council said the wooden structures, located at Jubilee Square in the city centre, were sawn apart, was to "address concerns raised around antisocial behaviour and on-street drinking".

Image caption Council meetings are held in Belfast City Hall in the city centre

The paper reports that in 2017, no-one was prosecuted for drinking in the area.

A spokesperson for the council confirmed that it had cost £2758.21 to re-install the benches, adding: "In the past 12 months, council officers have witnessed no incidents, and the PSNI have forwarded no formal reports."

'Insulting' decision

A decision not to send a representative from Derry and Strabane Council to the Queen's garden party at Buckingham Palace later this year features in the News Letter.

While it was agreed no-one would be sent back in January, the council has finally ratified the decision.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The invite came from the Department of Communities and not directly from Buckingham Palace

The final vote on the issue saw 20 councillors maintain the initial decision, with 18 opposing.

DUP Councillor Drew Thompson told the paper it "is an absolute insult".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Both Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson were found not guilty in unanimous verdicts

PPS challenge

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is set to be challenged over its decision to charge Ulster Rugby player Paddy Jackson with rape, according to the Daily Mirror.

The paper claims that paperwork, emails and internal correspondence may be sought from the PPS following concerns the decision to charge the 26-year-old and three of his friends "may not have been clear cut".

The Ulster and Ireland international along with his teammate, 25-year-old Stuart Olding, were both acquitted of rape last month.

Blane McIlroy, 26, who was accused of exposure, and Rory Harrison, 25, who was charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information, were also found not guilty.

'Glorifying terrorism'

An Ulster Unionist councillor who survived an IRA bombing in 1972, has hit out at a Sinn Fein MP who shared a video on Facebook commemorating 46 IRA members from Londonderry, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Mary Hamilton was badly injured in the Claudy bombing which killed nine people.

She has accused Elisha McCallion of "glorifying terrorism" for posting the video.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Nine people died in bombings in Claudy, County Londonderry on 31 July 1972

"People like Elisha McCallion don't understand the hurt something like this causes," Ms Hamilton told the paper.

"I would urge her to stop and think of the pain, that we the victims of IRA violence, have carried all our lives before posting such things."

A spokesperson for Sinn Fein responded: "Easter is a time when Republicans commemorate our patriot dead.

"Under the Good Friday Agreement everyone has a right to remember their dead with dignity and respect."

'Morally wrong'

Controversy surrounding the Victims and Survivors Forum continues in the News Letter.

Former members of the group have hit out against a decision by the forum not to tell a pensioner that there was a convicted IRA bomber in the current group.

It comes after Jackie Nicholl, 79, quit the forum after discovering that fellow member, Robert McClenaghan, had served prison time for IRA offences.

Irene Kerrigan told the paper it was "morally wrong" for an IRA bomber to be on the forum.

Meanwhile Ann Travers said that having a forum that is not "completely transparent about everyone's background is not right".

Lucky escape

A Portadown family have spoken to the Daily Mirror about their lucky escape, after their tumble-dryer caught fire in the middle of the night.

Patrick Durand said they only became aware of the blaze after his daughter noticed the wi-fi was not working.

The father-of-three said his daughter woke him from his bed and that he only noticed a burning smell when he got downstairs.

"I thought something must have short circuited so I went to the garage to get a screwdriver," he said.

"When I opened the door the smoke was unbelievable."

Thankfully he had a fire extinguisher in the car and was able to put out the blaze.