NI newspaper review: Secret tapes and having baby at 61

Image source, News Letter

Covert recordings of police officers, a "showdown" over Brexit and the joys of becoming a father in your 60s are among the stories making Friday's papers.

The Irish News leads with serious allegations against the Police Service of Northern Ireland, including a claim they put a man's safety at risk.

It says it has obtained recordings of talks between PSNI intelligence officers and a drug dealing suspect.

The paper claims officers threatened to expose the man as a police informer.

It refers to the drugs suspect as "Mr X" and said "questionable tactics" were used in a bid to get him to talk about the activities of dissident republicans.

A PSNI spokesperson tells the paper that all covert actions are "strictly governed" by law and "fully compliant" with human rights legislation.

Friday marks Leo Varadkar's first visit to Northern Ireland as taoiseach (Irish prime minister) and it poses many diplomatic dilemmas.

'Robust and frank'

The Belfast Telegraph is predicting he will have a "showdown" with the Democratic Unionist Party, after recent cross-border tensions over Brexit.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tells the paper there will a "robust and frank exchange" as he believes Mr Varadkar needs a better understanding of the DUP's position.

Image caption,
Tensions have grown between Leo Varadkar and Arlene Foster's DUP since they met in June

However, the DUP is accused of being "arrogant and rudderless" over Brexit in the Daily Mirror.

It quotes SDLP leader Colm Eastwood saying that an economic border on the island of Ireland is "unenforceable".

The paper says Mr Eastwood "urged Mr Varadkar not to sway from his no-border stance" and not be put off by the DUP's "feigned outrage".

The Mirror also carries a warning about a psychoactive substance called Salvia after two teenagers became very ill in Banbridge, County Down.

It says a 14-year-old girl was found vomiting in a street in the town, and paramedics suspect she suffered a fit.

On the same day, police officers said a teenage boy suffering from the same symptoms had to be revived by an off-duty nurse.

'Stupid rules'

The News Letter leads with a Sinn Féin plan to extend council powers over bonfires to all parts of Northern Ireland.

Earlier this week, the party succeeded in passing a motion giving Belfast City Council powers to remove materials from dangerous bonfires in the city.

But the paper says the DUP intends to challenge the motion, using a "mechanism designed to protect minority rights at local government level".

Inside, the News Letter says Glenavon football ground in Lurgan, County Armagh, will not cover up a World War One memorial despite UEFA rules on emblems.

The ground was inspected ahead of a UEFA Women's Under-19 Football Championship later this month.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie tells the paper the UEFA rule is "stupid".

"It is a sad day when a nation cannot remember its dead with dignity," he said.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
While many men are thinking of retirement, a 61 year old is taking on a demanding new job

Two very different views of getting older making very interesting reading in the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph.

'Strong emotions'

Denis Bradley pens a piece about the increasing burden falling on the aging shoulders of the ever diminishing number of Catholic priests.

Mr Bradley, a former priest who is now in his 70s, reflects on his own experience of aging - admitting he no longer has the stamina, energy, or patience he once had.

"Yet some of these men are being asked to take on more work - two parishes rather than one, more Masses, funerals, baptisms and weddings.

"More of the significant and heightened moments in people's lives, when their own attraction to and appreciation of strong emotions are receding."

However, nothing could be further from the truth for writer and regular BBC commentator Alex Kane, who at 61, is celebrating the birth of his third child.

'Wept without embarrassment'

He has written a touching letter to his new baby boy - his first born son - in Friday's Belfast Telegraph.

The commentator, who grew up in an orphanage without brothers or sisters, reveals he "wept without embarrassment" when Indy Kane was born last month.

The father of three outlines how, after believing he would spend his entire life alone, he met his "soulmate" at the tender age of 45.

"People told me I was mad having Lilah-Liberty at the age of 54 and you aged 61. I didn't give a damn what they thought," he writes.

"Having you, your mum, Megan and Lilah-Liberty in my life has been the best thing that has ever happened to me."