Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Kingsmill video decision and boy's epic trek

Front page of the News Letter on Thursday Image copyright News Letter
Image caption Front page of the News Letter on Thursday

A bereaved family's anger at a decision not to prosecute former Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff over a controversial video he posted of himself balancing a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head is reflected on the front pages of the Belfast Telegraph and News Letter on Thursday.

The video was posted on Mr McElduff's Twitter account on the anniversary of the Kingsmills atrocity, when 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead by the IRA in January 1976.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said there was insufficient evidence to "provide a reasonable prospect of conviction".

Colin Worton, whose brother Kenneth died as a result of the gun attack, tells the Belfast Telegraph that Mr McElduff "got away with dancing on the graves of Kingsmills victims".

Mr Worton said he had received a letter from the PPS on Wednesday, but could not read beyond the "bad news on the first page".

In a statement, Mr McElduff's solicitor said their client was "satisfied" with the decision of the PPS following the "unfortunate circumstances" of 6 January.

"As he did from the outset, Barry stated that any upset caused was unintentional," they added.

The News Letter has comments from Alan Black, the sole survivor of the Kingsmills massacre, who said he was not surprised Mr McElduff was not prosecuted as the PPS "didn't have much to go on".

"I think what he did was very, very wrong and it had to be challenged, but once he resigned, as far as I was concerned, it was over," he added,

Image caption NI Secretary Karen Bradley's comments in the House of Commons feature in the newspapers

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley's suggestion that she is considering how an external mediator could play a "constructive" role in a bid to re-establish powersharing talks is highlighted on the front page of the News Letter and within several other newspapers.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said Mrs Bradley was "grasping at straws" with her comments in the House of Commons, which have also been dismissed by the UUP.

IRA bomber Marian Price, also known as Marian McGlinchey, is on the front page of the Irish News.

She has "vehemently denied" allegations in a new book by New Yorker magazine journalist Patrick Radden Keefe linking her to the murder of Jean McConville, who was abducted from her home and murdered by the IRA more than 40 years ago.

Marian Price's sister Dolours Price, who died in 2013, had previously admitted driving some IRA victims - including Mrs McConville - over the border to their deaths.

Marian Price's solicitor, Peter Corrigan, said his client "vehemently denies any involvement in the murder of Jean McConville" and "refutes any assertion to the contrary".

The paper also reports that "substantial debts" left behind by Citizens Advice's regional headquarters have forced the charity to end its presence in Northern Ireland.

It says the familiar brand, which has provided free advice for more than 70 years will disappear from Northern Ireland by the end of the year.

Image caption Concerns have been raised about disabled parking spaces at the Royal Victoria Hospital

Citizens Advice NI, the organisation that provided administrative support for 13 independently run offices in the region, went into administration in June with six-figure financial liabilities.

The corresponding organisation in England and Wales was unable to take control of the remaining Northern Ireland offices, which will become affiliated to Advice NI.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that a campaigner for disabled people's rights has slammed the car parking facilities at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Michaela Hollywood, who has spinal muscular atrophy, described the hospital's disabled parking spaces as "rubbish for wheelchair accessible vehicles".

The Belfast Trust said the 73 available spaces for blue badge holders are "usually adequate to meet demand".

It said it was currently reviewing car park provision and traffic management arrangements including "an assessment of the location and design of parking for patients with mobility restrictions".

The Daily Mirror reports the comments of Maghaberry Primary School principal Graham Gault that parents are "donating toilet roll" due to budget cuts.

Mr Gault was speaking at a Northern Ireland Affairs committee hearing into education funding.

'Extraordinary lad'

Elsewhere, the paper says 15 Northern Ireland schools could be set to reap the benefits of the £300m Westminster has released for shared and integrated education.

It says the money is part of a £500m package pledged under the 2015 Fresh Start Agreement which was also planned to fund housing projects.

Finally, a story in the Irish News shows you are never too young to climb to great heights.

Image caption Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest peak in Africa

An 11-year-old south Armagh schoolboy, has become the youngest person to climb one of Mount Kilimanjaro's most difficult treks, raising more than £4,000 for terminally-ill children in the process.

Conor Bannon is the son of renowned climber Terence 'Banjo' Bannon and Lauren O'Malley who is also an accomplished mountaineer.

He lives with Common Variable Immune Deficiency, which means he needs fortnightly blood infusions at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Mr Bannon said his son visited the NI Children's Hospice after feeling down about his own illness and said afterwards that he wanted to raise funds.

"He's an extraordinary young lad, I'm so proud of him, if he can achieve something like this at just 11, well who knows what else life has in store for him."