Northern Ireland

What the papers say

Newspapers

Journalist Fionola Meredith takes a look at what is making the headlines in Tuesday's newspapers.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with a report on the carer who starved an elderly woman.

"Does it get any lower than this?" That's the question the Belfast Telegraph is asking, after footage emerged of carer Patricia Young stealing food from her elderly patient, right in front of her eyes.

The paper says that Young - who will be sentenced next month - has offered the family of Ivy McCluskey no explanation or apology for her callous actions.

Local politicians are supporting the family's call for strengthened legislation to protect the elderly from abuse.

The Irish News focuses on standards in health care in too - though of a different kind.

It reports that Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has declined to say when he was alerted to an explosive review of care standards at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Politicians have reacted with fury at being kept uninformed about the report, which warned of risks to children being treated at the hospital's A and E.

In an editorial, the paper expresses concern at what it calls the 'opaque mindset' and lack of openness in the health service.

It asks - whose best interests are served by keeping information under wraps?

It's back to politics in the News Letter.

It leads with UUP leader Tom Elliott's insistence that Ulster Unionists should stop talking down the party.

As a steady stream of defections continues, there's talk of low morale in the ranks - but Mr Elliott says that many of those leaving were merely giving up because they had failed to be selected as candidates.

Irish election

The Irish Times anticipates a general election on 25 February.

The way has been cleared, following agreement between the government and main opposition parties to get the Finance Bill through by the end of the week.

As sketchwriter Miriam Lord says, the president will have plenty of time now to dust down the good china and put the kettle on.

She knows that the taoiseach will be paying her a visit some time between this Saturday and next Tuesday.

Airport massacre

Elsewhere, the Russian airport bombing dominates the headlines.

The Independent headline is 'the Moscow Massacre', and it shows a victim of the explosion being carried away on a stretcher.

Witnesses spoke of an all-engulfing pall of smoke after the explosion, which broke to reveal a scene of carnage.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Russian security services were tipped off a week ago that a terrorist attack was planned at one of the capital's airports.

And the Times says that at the heart of this fresh explosion of violence is likely to be the continuing war in the Caucasus, now nearly two decades old.

And finally, the Daily Telegraph reports on the link between Andy Murray and Billy Connolly.

Many papers are following the progress of Britain's top tennis player at the Australian Open, but as the Telegraph notes, the Scot is prone to the occasional foul-mouthed tirade on court.

Now we know that he learned to swear from Billy Connolly.

Murray says that from the age of 10 he and his brother would listen to Billy Connolly cassettes while on car journeys with their parents.

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