Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: RHI, Jesus statue and an Elvis headbutt

Daily Mirror front page Image copyright Daily Mirror
News Letter front page Image copyright News Letter

The Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scandal sparks a fresh set of headlines for both the News Letter and the Belfast Telegraph on Thursday.

"Foster officials wanted RHI cost controls put in" reads the front page of the News Letter.

The paper's political editor, Sam McBride, reports the revelation puts "intense scrutiny" on Mrs Foster's repeated claim that she never went against civil service advice about the scheme.

He says the proposals for cost-control are contained within a 45-page consultation document on phase 2 of the Northern Ireland RHI.

Proposal 'abandoned'

In response, a DUP spokesperson says the public inquiry was the correct forum to deal with the questions raised by the paper.

In analysis on the same page, Mr McBride says the currently unanswerable question is "Given that the problem had been identified and a proposed solution already worked out in great detail, why - and on whose instructions - was the proposal abandoned?"

In the Belfast Telegraph, a separate RHI exclusive grabs the paper's top-story spot.

It reports that 59 bids to join the controversial scheme could still receive the most lucrative rate which allowed some applicants to make "cash for ash".

If approved, the claimants, who applied before 19 November 2015, could receive payments at the un-capped rate that led to the potential £490m overspend on the scheme.

The paper attributes its findings to information handed over by Ofgem.

UUP Assembly candidate Steve Aiken described the news as "truly astonishing".

Egg donor wanted

In total, the energy regulator said it was dealing with 127 RHI applications.

Also in the Belfast Telegraph is one couple's unusual request.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The couple have not had one response in the year they have been searching for an egg donor

Sarah Graham and her husband Nick have appealed through the paper for an egg donor after Sarah suffered two bouts of ovarian cancer.

The couple says they have been waiting for someone to come forward for a year and have not received one single response.

Mrs Graham told the paper: "Finding out I might not be able to have a baby was worse than being told I had cancer."

Elsewhere, the Daily Mirror leads with the headline "Brawl shook up" after ex-Celtic player Anthony Stokes paid out £25,000 to an Elvis impersonator for head-butting him.

The attack happened in a Dublin nightclub more than three years ago where the victim had his nose and two teeth broken.

Fell from Cross

The footballer was given a suspended two-year prison sentence.

On the front of the Irish News is a picture showing a statue of Jesus which has fallen off the Cross on the Falls Road in Belfast.

Image copyright Irish News/ Twitter

The statue is said to have fallen from the 20-foot structure sometime on Tuesday night.

The paper says clerics and parishioners worked quickly to remove the statue from the scene using a trolley.

One woman said: "Our Lord is on the ground, I hadn't even realised. I hope it's not long before he is returned."

The paper also carries tributes to Margaret McKinney, whose son Brian was among the 'Disappeared'.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Margaret McKinney died aged 85

He was abducted and murdered by the IRA in 1978.

Mrs McKinney met both Bill Clinton and John Major to raise issues for victims of the Troubles during her years of campaigning.

She died aged 85.