Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Bike tragedy, bail crime and Maze 'chaos'

News Letter front page 19/12/2018 Image copyright News Letter

A tragic motorcycle death, bail-related crime and "chaos at the Maze" are among the stories jumping out from Northern Ireland's front pages on Monday.

The Irish News leads with the death of 22-year-old County Tyrone man Tiarnan Rafferty, who died on the roads in Australia at the weekend.

The paper reports that Mr Rafferty was the son of Sharon Jordan, a "prominent Tyrone republican".

The Daily Mirror also carries the story and reports of tributes on social media to Mr Rafferty, who was described as a "great lad" and the "life and soul of the party".

Elsewhere, the Mirror reports that so-called punishment-style shootings are at their highest rate in four years after nine were recorded in the past three months.

Image caption Paramilitary shootings are at their highest level for four years according to the Daily Mirror

It says that there were 28 paramilitary-style shootings last year - twice the number of attacks in 2016 - and that 25 of them were carried out by republican groups and three by loyalist groups.

The front page of the Belfast Telegraph, meanwhile, reports that more than 30,000 crimes have been linked to people on bail in Northern Ireland in the last three years.

It reports that among the crimes people on bail were suspected of committed included eight murders, 52 attempted murders and 102 rapes.

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan, a former member of the policing board, told the paper that he would raise the issue with PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton.

Image caption The News Letter carries claims about "chaos" at the Maze Prison after "secret deals"

Over in the News Letter, Monday's front page headline reads "Maze 'descended into chaos' after secret deals".

It reports claims from a new book by former deputy governor Tom Murtagh, who says that secret deals between government officials and inmates at the Maze were "unprecedented and indefensible".

The book, titled The Maze Prison: A Hidden Story of Chaos, Anarchy and Politics, presents what is described as "a different perspective on the 'dirty protest' and the hunger strikes".

Inside on pages two and three, the paper dedicates a spread to a memorial service for the victims of the La Mon bombing.

The attack, which took place 40 years ago, killed 12 people.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A remembrance service for the victims of the La Mon bombing took place over the weekend

An hour-long anniversary service in Lisburn on Saturday was a "poignant reminder that these are wounds that remain raw", says the News Letter.

The Irish News is also turning an eye back to the Troubles - it reports that a new documentary has revealed the doubts held by soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.

The film Squaddies on the Frontline will be broadcast on the BBC on Wednesday and focuses on rank and file soldiers on the streets during the Troubles.

The film indicates that a number of soldiers "were unconvinced that they had achieved anything".

One of the documentary's producers, John Peto, said the film was an attempt to create "a people's history of normal life in abnormal times".

And finally, let there be light - the Belfast Telegraph reports that an electrical shop in Newry is set to be reborn as a church.

Murphy's Electrical store closed down four months ago but Newry Baptist Church have submitted plans to spark new life into the building.

The plan include a large worship area, a creche, a social space and a Sunday School room and a decision by planners is expected in the coming months.