Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Belfast's hotel boom, anger, hope and mice

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

The Irish News leads with news that £100,000 has been raised to pay for a Gaelic footballer's cancer treatment.

26-year-old Siobhan McCann from Clonvaraghan near Castlewellan told the paper she was "over the moon".

The money was raised to fund potentially life-prolonging treatment not available on the NHS, the Irish News reports.

Both the News Letter and the Belfast Telegraph lead with the Police Ombudsman's finding that no there was no evidence of police collusion in the murder of RUC officer John Larmour.

PC John Larmour was off duty and working in his brother's ice cream parlour in Belfast when he was shot dead in October 1988.

The officer's family have alleged that RUC Special Branch officers were complicit in the killing.

Image caption John Larmour was shot dead by two IRA gunmen at an ice-cream parlour in Belfast

In the Belfast Telegraph, PC Larmour's son, Gavin, criticises the Ombudsman's report.

"I have never had any truth or justice and this report doesn't change that," he told the paper.

The Irish News carries the story on its inside pages.

In what is billed as an exclusive, the Belfast Telegraph reports that a suspended lecturer faces the sack from the Presbyterian Union Theological College, based on Botanic Avenue in Belfast.

Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick was suspended from his job following remarks he made in the media concerning the ages of the college's staff.

Image copyright Albert Bridge
Image caption Union Theological College was founded in 1953

Now his image has been removed from the college's website, prompting fears he is about to be sacked, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Prof Kirkpatrick told the Belfast Telegraph that "church processes are in place", that he is suspended from normal duties and that he was not allowed to talk about his employment.

Also in the Belfast Telegraph, it is revealed that almost 25,000 animals were used in experiments in Northern Ireland last year.

Half of them were mice but cattle, dogs and cats were also used.

Green Party MLA Steven Agnew said he was disturbed at the figures and said more needed to be done to find alternatives to such experiments.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Half of the animals used in experiments in Northern Ireland last year were mice

In business news, the News Letter's correspondent writes that 2019 could be a challenging year for Belfast hotels, without a push to market the city internationally.

There has been a huge boom in the number of hotel rooms in the city and while demand continues to grow, it has not kept up with supply, the paper says.

'Middle class war'

The Irish News has a fascinating feature on page three, the finding of a unique cache of letters written by a young Army officer to his parents during World War One.

Lieutenant Patrick Dixon wrote almost daily to his parents in Dublin.

The letters were found in a suitcase in the attic of Clifton House in north Belfast.

Historian Eamon Phoenix told the paper that the letters were "a very middle class take on World War One".

The management team behind Down Royal house racing course is looking for a new home for the course, according to a report in the News Letter.

It comes as its Dublin-based owners announced they intend to take over the running of the site "with horse racing at its centre".

Prison bees

The Belfast Telegraph's Claire McNeilly has spent some time in Hydebank Wood Prison, learning about how bee-keeping is helping inmates.

Ten staff and two students, as the prisoners are known, have become qualified bee-keepers as the result of the scheme run in conjunction with the Ulster Bee-keepers Association.

The Daily Mirror leads with news that a Bangor man, twice convicted of rape, has put a profile of himself on dating site Tinder.

The father of one of his victims told the Mirror that he was horrified adding that women needed to be warned about this individual.

All of the papers cover the continuing negotiations on Brexit.