NI paper review: MLA pay cuts and the dangers of avocados

By Niall Glynn

Image source, News Letter
Image source, Daily Mirror

A proposed pay cut for MLAs, crumbling houses and the perils of avocados are among the stories in Wednesday's papers.

Both the News Letter and Belfast Telegraph lead with the recommendation that assembly members' pay be cut by almost £14,000.

The cut - from £49,500 to £35,888 - would come in two stages by March.

The recommendation has come in an independent review by the former chief clerk of the assembly, Trevor Reaney.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said he will "carefully consider the advice".

Killer's secret

The Daily Mirror returns to the horrific murders of his family by County Cavan man Alan Hawe.

The paper says that Hawe killed his wife, Clodagh, and sons Liam, Niall and Ryan to avoid a secret that would have ruined his reputation being exposed.

However, it says his shame was protected at an inquest into the deaths when his suicide note was given to the jury, but not made public.

A statement from Clodagh's family said: "This does not address why he committed this savagery."

Inside the paper, Belfast-based solicitor Kevin Winters says he can see no reason why "this crucial evidence" would be withheld.

"I find it extraordinary that these letters haven't been disclosed," he says.

Image source, Hawe family
Image caption,
Alan Hawe murdered his wife and three sons

On its front page, The Irish News leads with the claim that the government is seeking to "obscure the source" of a 'dark money' donation to the DUP by refusing to support the back-dating of political donations to Northern Ireland parties.

The accusation was made by shadow NI Secretary Owen Smith. during a House of Commons debate on donation transparency.

The paper says the debate featured heated exchanges between Mr Smith and the DUP's Sammy Wilson, who said rule changes do not go far enough because they do not enable the scrutiny of foreign donations.

Both The Irish News and News Letter report that a survey at the end of last month found five people sleeping rough on Belfast's streets.

The Irish News quotes Ann Sweeney of the Housing Executive, who says: "Two of them have their own homes, another had hostel accommodation and the other two declined any housing help."

Image source, Getty Images

A similar survey last year found 11 people sleeping rough in Belfast and The Irish News says the latest figures are in stark contrast to those in Dublin where, by the latest count, 184 people are sleeping rough.

On the subject of homes, the Belfast Telegraph says that a number of families in County Donegal, some of whom moved there from Northern Ireland, face having to leave houses which are "crumbling around them".

The paper says more than 1,000 publicly and privately-owned homes in the Inishowen area are crumbling due to the type of brick used to construct them.

It says the mica blocks absorb high levels of water and cause serious cracking to both internal and exterior walls.

Staying in the north west, a woman whose stepfather was killed in a loyalist attack on a Londonderry bar has told the News Letter it was a "forgotten massacre".

Five men were murdered at Annie's Bar exactly 45 years ago.

Eileen Doherty says her stepfather, Charlie McCafferty, was "a really good man".

Return to 'blunderland'

Bangor's "winter blunderland" continues to make the papers, with the Belfast Telegraph quoting a Limavady father of three who says his children's clothes were ruined by the plastic ice rink that was "covered in bleach".

"It wasn't slippy enough to skate and the kids kept falling, hitting their faces," he says.

Finally, The Irish News reports on "the most middle class injury to ever hit A&E departments".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Injuries from preparing avocados must be taken seriously, a top surgeon has said

A top plastic surgeon warns that a rise in the number of patients who who have caused significant damage to their hands while preparing an avocado "needs to be taken seriously".

Dr Alastair Brown, who is based at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, said there had been at least four such injuries in the last few months.

"Previously, we used to get similar injuries when people were using knives to separate frozen burgers - now it's avocados," he says.