Northern Ireland

Corbyn's gaffe, RHI and a naked jogger

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

It was Benjamin Franklin who said we can be certain of nothing in life except death and taxes.

But, if the venerable founding father had lived in Northern Ireland over the last few months he could have changed it to "death, taxes and another RHI story every day".

The News Letter continues firing journalistic wood pellets on the ever-burning fire. Its political editor Sam McBride reports on two leaked documents that reveal the names of two civil servants who told figures in the renewable heat industry in July 2015 the scheme was soon to end.

The paper has received business emails appearing to indicate that information was circulating about the scheme's imminent end.

It's been claimed that a spike in RHI applications in the two months before the scheme's October 2015 closure was due to details of its ending being widely known.

However, the News Letter points out that the department have not confirmed or commented on the latest revelation, and adds that there is no suggestion that the civil servants named acted improperly.

Sam McBride also sets out, across eight lengthy bullet points, the newspaper's justification for publishing the names of the civil servants and stresses that it is "not alleging corruption". Watch this space.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn attracted flak for his error over a shot PSNI officer on Wednesday

Elsewhere on Planet RHI, the Irish News reports that a charity watchdog is investigating after a green energy group said it would be "ethically improper" to warn Stormont about flaws in the scheme.

The managing director of Action Renewables, a group paid to process RHI applications, made the comments to the Irish News last week. Now the Charities Commissions says it has "opened a concern" on Action Renewables.


Meanwhile, the Irish News' front page is dedicated to the naming of a soldier who shot dead a man in Belfast 45 years ago, a move welcomed by the man's widow.

Mary Thornton, speaking outside court on Wednesday, said: "The way I look at it is, he shot him, so why not?"

She added that the inquest had helped her family answer questions about the death of an "ordinary father who lived for myself and the children".

Elsewhere, Thursday's papers firmly put Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the firing line after he wrongly told Westminster that a PSNI officer shot on Sunday had died.

"Apologise!" says the News Letter's front page, reflecting a call by Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay who called it a "jaw-dropping gaffe".

It's understood Mr Corbyn has written to the PSNI's chief constable to say sorry, but the Belfast Telegraph says it's only the latest in a line of "blunders from the Labour leader".

Image caption Derry's Craigavon Bridge: Not advised for naked jogging

If the Labour leader is feeling sheepish today, spare a thought for the chap caught taking a naked jog over Londonderry's Craigavon Bridge.

The Daily Mirror reports that the man pleaded guilty at Derry Magistrates' Court on Wednesday after his Tuesday night run was caught on CCTV.

A defence lawyer said he had "given no reason for the jogging naked across the Craigavon Bridge, but he is not in the habit of doing this type of thing". The man received a conditional discharge for a year.

January is nearly at a close so that means it's nearly February - aka Six Nations mania time. After beating New Zealand last November, and confirming their rightful place as rugby's greatest team, Ireland are seen as the dark horses.

Image copyright Inpho
Image caption 'He said what?': Joe Schmidt dismisses Vern Cotter's 'mind games'

So the mind games have started, reports the Daily Mirror. Joe Schmidt's side take on Scotland in the opening fixture on Saturday week, and Scotland coach Vern Cotter says Ireland and England will win the title.

The paper reports that Schmidt is having none of it: "I'm sure VC said that. A little more expectation on my shoulders and a little off his shoulders maybe. He has got bigger shoulders than me."

And finally from shoulders to Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton's opponent for this weekend's highly anticipated WBA World Featherweight Championship rematch.

Santa Cruz lost to Frampton last summer but, the Belfast Telegraph reports, he's more focused this time after his father's all-clear from cancer.

"Frampton is going to face the real Leo Santa Cruz this time. In that first fight, I didn't come in as ready as I've been for past fights."

Boxing clever or needless antagonism of The Jackal? We'll find out early on Sunday.