Northern Ireland

NI newspapers: Booby-trap bomb and death of a trailblazer

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

An attempt to murder police in Craigavon, County Armagh at the weekend makes the front page of three out of four of Monday's papers.

The Daily Mirror reports that dissident republicans staged a fake mortar attack in a bid to lure officers towards a booby-trap bomb near a bus stop.

The Continuity IRA is suspected of planting the bomb, says the Irish News.

It says the site is about 550 yards (500m) from where the same group killed Constable Stephen Carroll 10 years ago.

The PSNI officer was shot dead by the Continuity IRA at Lismore Manor in Craigavon on 9 March 2009, as he answered a 999 call.

The News Letter leads with reaction to the foiled bomb attack from the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) which represents the interests of rank and file officers.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The police and Army were called to a false report of a mortar which had failed to fire

PFNI chairman Mark Lindsay says police will now "have to be even more cautious" on call-outs, which could lead to delays when answering emergency calls from the public.

"No-one expects officers to leave themselves vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and that must mean the very real prospect of slower response times," he says.

Police response times are also being hindered by an increase in hoax calls, according to the Belfast Telegraph and other papers.

The papers report that the Police Service of Northern Ireland is losing seven hours a day through dealing with false alarms.

Officers received almost 3,600 hoax calls over the last financial year, an increase of 5% on the previous year.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with an exclusive interview with the family of a murder victim who are challenging his killer's jail sentence.

Laurence Shaw was stabbed in the chest and his throat was slashed during an attack in his home in Larne, County Antrim in October 2017.

Earlier this month, 40-year-old Jackie Murray McDowell was told he must serve a minimum of 12 years for the murder, which angered the victim's family.

Mr Shaw's sister, Rose Stone, tells the Telegraph: "I don't feel 12 years is enough for the life of my brother."

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Laurence Shaw, 56, was murdered in his home at Hillmount Gardens, Larne, in 2017

She compares the "unusually lenient" tariff to sentences handed down in Great Britain and tells the paper she has written to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) seeking an appeal.

The PPS confirms it has received the request and "will be in further contact with the family in due course".

'Huge loss'

The untimely death of one of Northern Ireland's most successful entrepreneurs is the lead story in the lead story in the Irish News.

Brian Conlon founded the Newry-based software firm, First Derivatives, more than 20 years ago and helped it grow into "a £1bn success story that employs more than 2,000 people around the globe".

The 53-year-old businessman, who once played Gaelic football for County Down, revealed in May that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Mr Conlon's death was announced on Sunday and the paper carries tributes from the worlds of business, politics and the Gaelic Athletic Association.

Image copyright First Derivatives
Image caption Former GAA footballer Brian Conlon built a £1bn software business in his home city of Newry

Northern Ireland's former first minister Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), described him as a "trailblazer in financial technology".

She added that Mr Conlon is "a huge loss".

The Irish News also reports the death of a north Belfast GP who was killed in a crash while competing in a County Down motorsports race at the weekend.

Dr Paul Conn, from Lisburn, had just celebrated a race win and was on track for a second when the accident happened at the Kirkistown Racing Circuit on Saturday.

The Ballygomartin doctor had a "lifelong passion for motorsports" his brother-in-law Dr Dermot Neely tells the paper.

"He will be missed by all who knew him."

'Insults'

The News Letter carries an opinion column from the veteran commentator Alex Kane, warning that Northern Ireland politics is "heading towards a very dark, dangerous place".

He claims the "gulf between unionism and nationalism is wider than at any time since the 1970s" and suggests that the spirits of compromise seen during the early days of devolution has disappeared.

Mr Kane also says that the relationship between unionists and the Irish government is now "worse than at any time since the Anglo-Irish Agreement".

An example of the deteriorating mood is present elsewhere on page six, where DUP MP Sammy Wilson questions whether Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney should be allowed to use Stormont for press conferences.

He was speaking after Mr Coveney criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson's approach to Brexit negotiations with the EU.

"He insults the British Prime Minister from a British parliament - because that's what Stormont is," Mr Wilson says.

"He is not a member of the assembly. He is not a member of a Northern Ireland political party. You have to ask the question - who gave him permission?"

No excuse

There may be a war of words at Stormont but if anyone needs a reminder of the bad old days to inject a sense of perspective, the Mirror has a history lesson from Eamonn Holmes.

Image caption Eamonn Holmes' excuse for being late for school was not good enough

The Belfast-born TV presenter has given a revealing account of his experience of growing up in the city during the Troubles, including the day the IRA petrol-bombed his school bus.

"Our bus was hijacked on the Antrim Road. And this man wearing a balaclava came on and said, 'We are commandeering this bus for the Irish Republican Army'," Holmes recalled during a White Wine Question Time podcast.

The then 14-year-old Holmes got off the bus as the masked man began to douse the vehicle with petrol.

As the vehicle went up in flames, the teenagers found themselves having to walk a mile and half to school.

"As excuses go for being being late to school," the paper says, this one "surely takes some beating".

However, instead of the sympathy and counselling that might be expected by today's "snowflake" generation, Holmes says his unimpressed teacher gave him detention.