Northern Ireland

Newspaper headlines: Anorexia, grief and boundary issues

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

The Belfast Telegraph and the Irish News carry the same front-page picture of a smiling mother and her daughter - young, blonde, glamorous: they look like sisters on a night out.

That photograph was taken in December, but Sharon Bridges is now mourning her 21-year-old daughter, Sophie, who died at the weekend.

The headline in the Irish News reads "Health system 'failed Sophie'".

It says Sophie from Killough, County Down, was found dead in her bedroom on Saturday night. She had suffered a heart attack after years of living with anorexia and bulimia.

Image copyright Sharon Bridges
Image caption Sophie Bridges, left, with her mother, Sharon

Her mother tells the paper that Sophie's death was "such a waste of life". She says she felt she "had to fight" to get someone to take her seriously.

The Telegraph quotes Sophie's mother saying her daughter "had nowhere to turn to get the health service help she needed".

Hospital staff "did their best but the provision just isn't there," Sharon Bridges tells the paper.

Sharon Bridges has called for the introduction of separate emergency departments in hospitals to treat people with mental health problems.

The Belfast Telegraph devotes its main headline to a row over a GAC (Gaelic Athletic Club) decision to host an event commemorating the Gibraltar Three - the three IRA members - Mairead Farrell, Sean Savage and Danny McCann - shot dead by the SAS 30 years ago.

The paper says that Michael Davitts Gaelic Athletic Club received more than £1.3m funding from the City Council and the lottery and had hosted an event that "celebrated terrorism".

DUP MP Paul Girvan tells the paper: "I think it is only right that the GAA clarify for the benefit of the wider community if they believe the hosting of events which glorify the actions of the IRA should be held on their premises."

He says the club receives grants on the basis that it is "open and welcoming to all" and he called on the GAA to "make its stance clear".

The Belfast Telegraph features political commentator Alex Kane reflecting on the first anniversary of the death of former IRA leader and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.

He quotes a "leading member of the DUP" at the time when Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness were heading the Stormont Executive.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Martin McGuinness served as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister for ten years

"The relationship hasn't been perfect and has required a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work from both him and Peter; but I'll tell you this, we couldn't have got this far without McGuinness fronting for Sinn Féin. Once he goes, unionism will have a problem."

Alex Kane says since the deputy first minister's death there remains a vacuum at the heart of power sharing, he has left "a huge hole". No-one within Sinn Féin "ranks with the clout he had", he writes.

"McGuinness is gone. And unionism has a problem."

Inside the Irish News, another political commentator Brian Feeney writes that the Boundary Commission's radical revision of its original proposals in Northern Ireland must be challenged.

Sinn Féin did not get much traction for their opposition, he says. "Much of the reaction was along the lines of well, they would say that, wouldn't they?"

But he argues that the party's objections cannot be dismissed so easily and that they contain "a lot of substance". He says the Boundary Commission have "a lot of explaining to do" and he calls the revised proposals "bizarre and biased" and adds that perhaps the icing on the cake for the DUP is "the end of Sylvia Hermon, the best unionist MP this century".

Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Lady Sylvia Hermon - the "best unionist MP this century?"

The News Letter leads on the story of the police officer who took his own life.

"Tragedy of officer who shot himself in station," reads the headline. It reports on an inquest into death of PSNI Inspector Peter Magowan who had his own personal protection weapon removed because of concerns about his mental health.

But he cut the padlock on another officer's locker, removed a gun and shot himself.

The coroner said he believed Insp Magowan should have been medically assessed as not fit for work and also raised concerns about the security surrounding police officers' personal weapons.

The Magowan family said they believed the death was "wholly preventable" and hoped lessons would be learned.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The "hooded men" claimed they were tortured by the Army in 1971

The Mirror covers the European Court of Human Rights' decision against the "hooded men" - a group who were held during internment in Northern Ireland in 1971 and claimed they were subjected to torture by the Army.

Reporter Maurice Fitzmaurice carries the men's claim that the European Court has effectively given countries "the green light" to torture.

Music to the ears

Finally, the woman behind the Derry Féis is to have her own blue plaque.

Rose O'Doherty was a founding member of Féis Doire Colmcille and was there from the start in 1922, the News Letter reports.

Every year, she would appear sporting a new hat for the occasion, and would take her seat behind the piano to accompany musicians. She remained involved until she died in 1969.

On Friday, her grandson, Cathal McCabe, will join the Ulster History Circle to unveil the plaque at 29 Francis Street in the city - his grandmother's home.