NI paper review: State of the union, royal kingdom of Mourne

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news letter front pageImage source, News Letter

There is little similarity among the front pages this morning, with each paper going for a different lead.

There has been a good degree of speculation about the potential impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland's place in the UK.

However, the News Letter suggests it's much ado about nothing.

In a Queen's University Belfast poll, it was found that "not even half of Catholics would vote for a united Ireland", with 26% of those surveyed undecided.

A second poll found a clear majority of people across the UK are in favour of the union in its current form, the paper says.

Elsewhere, the Belfast Telegraph reports that a County Down teenager has risen to the defence of a doctor criticised in the Hyponatraemia report.

Dr Robert Taylor was the anaesthetist in charge during a kidney transplant on Adam Strain, 4, who died from hyponatraemia following the surgery in 1995.

Inquiry chairman John O'Hara said in his findings that Dr Taylor had made "fatal errors in his treatment of Adam".

'My hero, my saviour'

In his report he accepted that this was "most probably uncharacteristic" and did not query Dr Taylor's usual competence.

Last week the paper revealed that the doctor had received almost £550,000 as part of a Clinical Excellence Award Scheme.

Phoebe Lyle, 19, from Bangor, who was knocked down by a hit-and-run driver when she was three years old, says Dr Taylor is "my hero, my saviour," after being under his care following the accident.

Phoebe tells the paper that she "owed him her life and we shouldn't ignore those he saved."

Image caption,
Adam Strain, four, died following a kidney transplant operation in 1995

Elsewhere in the papers, The Irish News leads with two tragic stories.

It headlines with a desperate brother's request: "I need truth about my teen brother's killer".

The paper reports that a prominent Dublin sports journalist has appealed for help in identifying the killer of his teenage brother in a drive-by loyalist shooting.

Peter Watterson, 14, was shot as he stood at the front of his mother's corner shop on the Falls Road in Belfast in 1973.

Also on the front page, the paper reports on the death of a 40-year-old man after he was shot in Dublin by Gardaí (police) searching for a missing 24-year-old woman.

The paper says student Jastine Valdez has not been seen since she left her home in County Wicklow on Saturday.

Both the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter report that an epileptic child from Castlederg in County Tyrone has had his prescription for medicinal cannabis halted.

The Belfast Telegraph quotes 11-year-old Billy Caldwell's mother, Charlotte, as saying the government "have signed his death warrant".

Billy was the first person in the UK to receive a prescription for medicinal cannabis, following a campaign led by his mother, the paper says.

The newspapers report that his doctor, GP Brendan O'Hare, was summoned to a meeting with Home Office officials recently and told to desist.

Both papers quote SDLP assembly member Mark H Durkan as saying he is "appalled" by the decision.

The Belfast Telegraph also quotes DUP MP Jim Shannon, who says he is "confident that we will end up with cannabis oil available for all who need it".

Image source, Richard McKee
Image caption,
Life-sized cardboard figures of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Kilkeel, County Down

Residents of Kilkeel are right royally delighted with their new Baron and Baroness, says the Belfast Telegraph.

Prince Harry became Baron Kilkeel - one of the titles gifted to him by the Queen on his wedding day.

He is the first royal to have been granted the title. The paper reports that local business owners have high hopes the royal stamp of approval on the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Mourne will bring visitors.

The Irish News reports that unionists have welcomed the title, with DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson saying the "folk of my native Mourne will be over the moon".

It is also reported the couple are planning a "mini-moon" to Ireland.

So if they visit the Emerald Isle will they come to their namesake?

We could see Harry and Meghan Kilkeel eating oysters and downing a few pints of the black stuff in the fishing town yet.