NI newspaper review: Minister's warning and ambulance workers test positive

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Diane DoddsImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Economy Minister Diane Dodds says another lockdown would remove any lingering hopes businesses have of economic recovery

A warning from DUP minister Diane Dodds that Northern Ireland's economy is in a "perilous situation" and would be destroyed by another coronavirus lockdown features on the front page of the News Letter on Thursday.

Mrs Dodds' comments at Stormont's scrutiny committee led to Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd asking whether the minister was challenging the public messaging from her party leader, the NI First Minister Arlene Foster.

"Even the fear alone of another lockdown would remove any lingering hopes businesses have of economic recovery," Mrs Dodds said.

"This is costing jobs and impacting on families."

The Irish News front page focuses on the message from NI Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride who has called for a "six month commitment" from the public as Health Minister Robin Swann said coronavirus is "gaining momentum" again in Northern Ireland.

"I ask for six months more commitment from you, as if your life depends on it - because your life and the lives of others does depend on it," Dr McBride said.

Meanwhile, the Belfast Telegraph reveals on its front page that 10 staff at Craigavon Ambulance Station have tested positive for coronavirus after attending "a social event outside of work".

A further six workers have also been advised to self-isolate.

"The situation is being managed in line with Public Health Guidance and NIAS procedures," a Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) statement said.

Image source, News Letter
Image caption,
Front page of the News Letter on Thursday

Elsewhere, a number of the newspapers, including the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter, report that sex offence convictions against 15 people are to be set aside because of "legislative error".

The cases involve 17 victims, the majority of whom were children at the time the offences occurred.

The Public Prosecution Service has discovered "a technical change in the law" in 2009 meant the cases should not have been prosecuted in a magistrates court.

It said it is "truly sorry" for the distress the news will cause victims.

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The Public Prosecution Service will now consider whether or not to re-run the cases in a crown court

The Irish News says grammar schools that suspended "11-plus style exams" this year could potentially be forced to reverse their decisions.

It reports that a dozen schools, most of them Catholic grammars, cancelled entrance assessments due to take place later this year.

The newspaper says it has now emerged the schools may be required to go through an "onerous development proposal process before any change can be made".

Finally, in these difficult times, it is always useful to get advice from an elderly couple who have stuck together through thick and thin.

Joseph Graham, 102, and wife Nellie, 101, from Randalstown, County Antrim, were married during World War Two and are celebrating 78 years together.

They first met 96 years ago at Taylorstown Elementary School.

Their great grand-daughter Joanne Graham told the News Letter that Joseph has let her in on the secret to wedded bliss.

"Grandad says you just have to agree and say nothing, that's how it has lasted so long," she adds.