Northern Ireland

NI newspapers: Parties trade barbs over health crisis

News Letter front page 23/02/18 Image copyright News Letter

"Revolt" in schools in County Down, a "war of words" over the ongoing problems with the health service and official recognition for Northern Ireland's Gaeltacht areas are among the headlines on Friday's front pages.

We start with the Belfast Telegraph, which reports on a row brewing at four primary schools in south Down with the headline: "Parents don't want bishop to confirm their kids".

The paper reports that parents are objecting to the Bishop of Dromore, John McAreavey after it emerged he had taken part in the funeral of sex abuse priest Fr Malachy Finnegan.

Accusations against Fr Finnegan became public in recent weeks and the bishop has said it was a "mistake" for him to take part in the funeral.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that he has met parents and is considering whether or not he will officiate at the confirmations.

Over in the News Letter, the DUP and Sinn Féin are in a "war of words as health crisis deepens".

The paper says that each party blames the other for rapidly growing waiting lists.

Figures released by the Department of Health on Thursday showed that more than 80,000 people have been on a waiting list for over a year.

Elsewhere, the News Letter reports that Baroness Paisley, the widow of Ian Paisley, has "savaged" DUP leader Arlene Foster and said she should have stepped down over the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scandal a year ago.

Image caption Baroness Paisley's comments about Arlene Foster feature prominently in Friday's papers

Baroness Paisley, who is also a vice president of the DUP, said that political leaders needed to "confess sin and confess mistakes".

Her comments also feature in the Daily Mirror, which uses the headline: "The buck stops with you, Arlene."

SSE access row

The Daily Mirror reports that a parent has hit out at the SSE Arena in Belfast after it took him and his wheelchair-bound daughter two hours to get to their car after a concert.

David Rodgers took his 16-year-old daughter Katie to the X Factor Live Show and were seated in the top tier of the arena.

However, he said they had to wait "the guts of an hour" for a "tiny lift" after the concert.

Image caption The SSE Arena was criticised after it took a man and his wheelchair-bound daughter almost two hours to get to their car after a concert

"In this day and age you shouldn't be having problems in a modern building just because you are in a wheelchair or you need help," he says.

"I know speaking to other people they have had the same issues. They need to rectify it."

A spokesperson for the arena said that wheelchair seating was available on the ground floor and that because it was a sold-out show "with over 8,000 customers leaving the building at the same time", it was particularly busy,

Irish recognition?

The Irish language is the focus of the Irish News' front page - but it's not about an Irish Language Act.

Instead, the paper reports that Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas in Northern Ireland could be about to receive official recognition.

Belfast and Carntogher in County Londonderry are among five areas across the island that have been chosen by a cross-border body to apply for formal status as "Irish language network" communities.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Brian Keenan was a senior IRA leader

The Irish News says it's the first time Irish-speaking communities outside the Republic's Gaeltacht areas will be officially recognised.

Inside, on page three, the Irish News says that a listening bug has been discovered in the home of a late IRA leader.

The device was found by a relative of Brian Keenan, who died in 2008, concealed in a ceiling during renovations.

Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly says he will be asking the Police Ombudsman to investigate how and why it came to be in the house.

"There are breaches of the householder's right to privacy and to a private life and questions around who authorised this surveillance and why.

"We don't know how old this bug is or how long it has been there - we will leave that to the ombudsman to check."

Image caption Could Harry Gregg become Sir Harry?

And finally, he's one of Northern Ireland's most famous footballing sons, a renowned member of the "Busby Babes" team from the 1960s and a modest hero who helped pull survivors from the Munich Air Crash in 1958.

But could Harry Gregg become Sir Harry?

An online campaign for the former Manchester United goalkeeper to receive a knighthood has so far attracted 800 signatures, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Jason Peters, who began the campaign, says Gregg is an "amazing man" while another contributor online said he could not imagine anymore more deserving of the honour.