Northern Ireland

Newspaper headlines: Airport stand-off and the 'king of wolves'

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

A drunken airport protest and a hiking trip for convicted murderers are among the stand-out stories on Monday.

The Daily Mirror leads with the headline "Trollied" - claiming "drunk" passengers stopped a flight from taking off at Belfast City Airport on Sunday.

It reports 17 people staged a sit-down protest, blocking boarding gates, after being told they were too drunk to fly.

Police were called but said they resolved the matter "without incident."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The passengers were spoken to by police at Belfast City Airport on Sunday

The Belfast Telegraph's front page features a photo of five of what it calls "Northern Ireland's most notorious killers" on a hiking trip up Northern Ireland's highest mountain.

The prisoners, four of whom are serving time for killing women, were allowed to climb Slieve Donard last Thursday, before having tea on Newcastle promenade.

Doug Beattie, the Ulster Unionist Party's justice spokesman, said prison bosses must explain the purpose of the trip.

The Prison Service replied that the exercise was part of a programme to support the health of older prisoners, and to prepare them for reintegration back into society.

'Rot'

The Telegraph also has a distressing story about a 61-year-old west Belfast woman who is waiting for an operation to amputate her foot, to prevent an auto-immune disease from spreading further up her leg.

However, Elizabeth McConway's surgery was cancelled just one day before she was due to be admitted to hospital.

Her distraught daughter has written an open letter to Northern Ireland's chief medical officer to say that if the operation is further delayed, she could face a below the knee amputation.

"Are we now to assume that this will be the likely outcome while she sits at home, watching her foot rot in front of her?" she asks.

Hospital waiting lists are widely covered in several of the papers, after research suggested patients in Northern Ireland are having to wait much longer than their counterparts in England.

The News Letter leads with a claim that more than 10,000 Northern Ireland patients were kept waiting more than a year for non-urgent procedures, compared to fewer than 4,000 in England, where the population is much larger.

It quotes statistics obtained by the Ulster Unionist Party's health spokesman Roy Beggs.

It points out that if Northern Ireland waiting lists "were pro rata at the same level as England, we would have just 118 patients waiting for more than a year".

The paper says the situation is deteriorating in the absence of a health minister in Northern Ireland.

'Big softie'

Voters' anger at the 21-month impasse at Stormont leads the Belfast Telegraph, which suggests Sinn Féin is facing hostility among its grassroots over its current absence from the assembly.

The paper says the party faced a "very negative response" on doorsteps in republican areas of North Antrim, as it tried canvass support for a recall petition against the sitting MP, Ian Paisley.

The petition fell more than 400 votes short of the threshold needed to force a by-election.

Sinn Féin's Sean McGlinchey reportedly told a party meeting that voters were disillusioned by a lack of political direction, while assembly members continue to draw salaries from the non-functioning assembly.

He is said to have suggested that a deadline be set to start talks on restoring devolution, or they should "pull the plug" on Stormont.

We'll end with a shaggy dog story, and not just any shaggy dog but Brian Boru X, official mascot of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Wolfhound Major Robert Moore with Royal Irish Regiment Mascot Brian Boru

The Daily Mirror met the magnificent wolfhound in Belfast on Saturday as the regiment was presented with new colours by the Duke of York.

Brian, nicked Conri (which means wolf king), stands at 6ft 3in on his hind legs and can reportedly jump to a height of more than 7ft.

However, according to his handler, Conri is a "big softie" who doesn't like the rain.

But the marching mascot does love a parade, and never lets the regiment down in public.

Wolfhound Major Robert Moore tells the paper: "If he needs to go to the loo while we are on parade, he headbutts me in the thigh and we step out."