Northern Ireland

NI Paper Review: Women 'drinking themselves to death'

News Letter front page Image copyright News Letter

Wednesday's Irish News and Belfast Telegraph both look at the rising numbers of women dying from alcohol abuse in Northern Ireland.

The Belfast Telegraph features the story on its front page, reporting that alcohol-related deaths in women have almost doubled in three years.

In 2013, 6.4 alcohol-specific deaths per 100,000 females were recorded in Northern Ireland - but by 2016 the rate had risen to 11.8, according to the Office of National Statistics.

"What we have found is that the over-55s are quietly drinking themselves to death," said Dr George O'Neill, who is a GP and chairman of Addiction NI.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dr Tony Rao, from the Royal College of Psychologists, said the figures should act as a 'wake-up call'

"This was never identified before, and lots of them are female.

"This has to do with redundancy, bereavement and the break-up of relationships.

"They sit quietly at home drinking and they are not disturbing anyone, they are not on the streets fighting and they do not attract a great deal of attention, until now."

Dr Tony Rao, from the Royal College of Psychologists, said the figures should act as a "wake-up call".

'Widows at war'

Inside the Belfast Telegraph is the story of an "extraordinary tug of love" between a 91-year-old widow from Northern Ireland and an American family over the final resting place of a multi-millionaire.

Under the headline "Widows at War", the Belfast Telegraph lays out the story of Olive Murphy's battle to bury her husband, Paul Morgi.

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Image caption The dispute has reached the High Court in London

But his death has led to in a bitter argument between Ms Murphy and her husband's ex-wife, who lives in America and resulted in Mr Morgi's American daughter and grandchildren winning an injunction to stop him being buried in the UK.

Now the dispute over where the multi-millionaire should be buried has reached the High Court in London, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

'Slow burner'

Elsewhere in the papers, there is some coverage of the early stages of the RHI inquiry, which began on Tuesday.

But the story only makes it onto the front page of the Irish News, which leads with the news that the inquiry has secured messages sent between politicians after Jonathan Bell's "explosive" interview with the BBC last year.

Inside, on page five, the paper concludes that the "milestone" hearing had been met with "little fanfare".

Brendan Hughes writes: "It's the scandal that brought down the north's power-sharing government, but as the RHI inquiry formally opened yesterday morning at Stormont, the atmosphere was hardly electric.

Image caption The independent public inquiry into the RHI scheme began on Tuesday

"The 'box office' hearings won't come until next year, with former DUP ministers Arlene Foster and Jonathan Bell only due to give evidence towards the end of the oral hearings.

"This will be a slow burner."

The News Letter's front page is dominated by a picture of the "13th victim" of the 1987 Enniskillen bomb, which happened 30 years ago on Wednesday.

The picture shows Ivy Lambert, holding a framed photograph of her son, Adam Lambert, who was shot dead in Belfast the day after the tragedy.

Mrs Lambert told the paper: "My son was the forgotten victim."

Mr Lambert was shot by loyalist paramilitaries, who mistook him for a Catholic, in retaliation for the IRA bombing.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The scene at the cenotaph in Enniskillen after the 1987 bombing

"I don't want him to be forgotten, I want him to be alive in peoples' memories," said the 85-year-old.

"It's been 30 years now, a very long time, sometimes I think, did we ever have Adam?"

The paper also shares the stories of the relatives of those who were killed on the day.

Joan Anderson, whose parents were killed, said: "You have to learn to live with it or else you're another victim and I refuse to be another victim."

Stella Robinson, whose parents were also killed, said: "The heartache never goes away, it's just that a part of you goes with them, but the longing in you for them never goes away."