NI paper review: Lorry deaths manhunt, election and Quinn threat

  • Published
Daily Mirror

The Essex lorry deaths, the December election and a threat to the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings appear on the front of Wednesday's papers.

Both the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter lead with the planned election on 12 December.

"Now voters will have their say" is the headline in the Belfast Telegraph.

The paper says that battlelines have been drawn between Northern Ireland's parties ahead of the election.

Inside, University of Liverpool politics professor Jon Tonge previews the likely key electoral battlegrounds in Northern Ireland.

Image source, Parliament handout
Image caption,
MPs voted for a 12 December election on Tuesday night

He predicts several close contests, including in three of the four Belfast seats, North Down, South Antrim and Foyle.

"MPs fire starting gun for Brexit election" is the News Letter headline.

The paper says that the DUP will be watching closely to see if the Ulster Unionists follow through on the pledge of incoming leader Steve Aiken not to have any electoral pacts.

It says failure to agree a pact could see Nigel Dodds' North Belfast seat under threat and "makes hard a unionist win in Fermanagh and Tyrone".

A masked man reading a threat is pictured on the front of The Irish News.

The threat to the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings has been issued by the gang responsible for abducting and assaulting the company's Kevin Lunney last month, according to the paper.

Image caption,
A new threat has been issued against the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings

It says the gang is mainly based in County Cavan.

The threat, which was delivered to The Irish News, said it was a "last warning" to the directors and also threatened Cavan County Council staff or other contractors who remove posters erected as part of the campaign of intimidation against the directors.

Pictures of County Armagh brothers Ronan and Christopher Hughes appear on the covers of all the Northern Ireland papers.

They are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter over 39 people found dead in a lorry in Essex.

"Manhunt" is the stark headline in the Daily Mirror.

Image source, Essex Police
Image caption,
Christopher (left) and Ronan Hughes are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking

The Mirror says that one of the brothers, Ronan, phoned police shortly after lorry driver Maurice Mo Robinson was arrested last Wednesday.

However, it says that he has not been contactable since.

It says that the PSNI, Garda and Essex police have now launched a manhunt under the oversight of the National Crime Agency.

The Mirror also reports on a Northern Ireland man scammed out of £60,000 during repeated calls to his landline phone by three men.

One man told him his internet had been hacked, the second that his bank account was insecure and the third posed as a bank manager and convinced him to set up a new account and transfer in the money.

Anorexia cases rise

The News Letter says that the number of cases of anorexia among pre-teen children may have doubled in Northern Ireland in 10 years.

It says a study, which looked at cases of anorexia diagnosed by psychiatrists in hospitals or specialist clinics, estimates that 3.2 per 100,000 children aged between eight and 12 met criteria for anorexia for the first time in 2015, compared with 1.5 to 2.1 per 100,000 in 2006.

County Down 10-year-old Zack Gordon features in a number of the papers, including the Belfast Telegraph.

The family of Zack, who has prosthetic legs, took a disability discrimination case against We Are Vertigo in Belfast after he was stopped from using a trampoline.

They have since received a £2,500 settlement.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
A picture of Gerry Conlon's release is among those featured in Shooting the Darkness

Finally, The Irish News features some of the most iconic images of the Troubles which have been collected for a new book.

Shooting the Darkness includes photographs including the aftermath of the 1993 Shankill bomb, the release of the Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon and a young girl in a nightdress standing beside her bullet-riddled front door after a gun attack in west Belfast.

Each picture is accompanied by a short description of how they came about from the photographer who took them.

This article was based on public announcements and appeals made by Essex Police at the relevant time. Christopher Hughes denies any involvement in these offences and Essex Police has since confirmed no further action will be taken against him. Since the publication of this article, his older brother, Ronan Hughes, 41, and Maurice Robinson, 26, both of County Armagh, have pleaded guilty to manslaughter. On 21 December 2020, the Crown Court, sitting at the Old Bailey, found Eamonn Harrison, 24 of Newry, County Down, and Gheorghe Nica, 43 of Basildon, Essex, guilty of manslaughter and Christopher Kennedy, 24, of County Armagh, and Valentin Calota 38, of Birmingham, guilty of conspiring to assist illegal immigration. Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 28, of Tilbury, Essex, and Gazmir Nuzi, 43, of Tottenham, north London, admitted assisting unlawful immigration. All defendants were sentenced in January 2021.