Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Crime, Trump and life-saving joggers

George Hamilton Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Chief Constable George Hamilton says people are afraid to come to police with information on dissident-related crimes

There's a definite crime theme running through the papers this morning, led by the Belfast Telegraph's exclusive interview with Northern Ireland's Chief Constable George Hamilton.

In a sit-down chat with the paper's Rebecca Black, he appeals to the public (as police do) for more help solving crimes.

He refers specifically to an alleged reluctance from the public to come forward with information relating to last week's gun attack on a PSNI officer at a filling station on the Crumlin Road.

"There's always a reluctance when these violent dissident groups - or indeed any paramilitary of terrorist organisation - is involved," he says.

Image caption David McCrum and Richard Lamont helped rescue the woman in November

Inside, the Belfast Telegraph revisits the story of a jogger who found and rescued a student who lay injured on Cavehill for more than 24 hours.

It reports David McCrum plans to climb 12 mountains across Ireland to raise money for the Air Ambulance service after seeing first hand the work they do.

Elsewhere, the News Letter delves in to its own crime scoop.

It reports that a previously convicted terrorist had only served a "light" jail sentence for a serious dissident offence relating to weapons when he went on the run.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Damien Joseph McLaughlin breached his bail conditions ahead of standing trial

Damien Joseph McLaughlin was due to go on trial for aiding and abetting the murder of prison officer David Black in 2012, but has absconded.

The paper says it has undertaken an examination of bail policy and the sentences applied in previous cases referring to Mr McLaughlin.

In analysis on the opposite page, the paper's deputy editor Ben Lowry offers his opinion on Northern Ireland's bail policy, calling it "hopelessly lenient" with regards to serious dissident offences and makes an appeal for tougher action by the courts on terror.

"Ten days ago a policeman could have been killed in a dissident attack in north Belfast," he writes.

"The terrorists were clearly determined to murder an officer, so it is reasonable to fear that in the coming weeks or months another PSNI officer, or group of officers, will be killed."

Dodgy driving

Sticking with the theme, the Irish News carries a story about an officer who faces prosecution for driving a police Land Rover dangerously.

The paper quotes a spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman, who says there were more than 20 complaints about "different aspects of police conduct" at a march on the Ormeau Road on the Tuesday after Easter 2016.

Finally, the Irish News reports Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny will raise concerns about President Trump's travel ban when he visits him in America on St. Patrick's Day.

"The blanket ban on any country and bans on the basis of religion are not morally acceptable and I disagree entirely with the policy that has been laid out," says Mr Kenny.