Northern Ireland

Paper Review: Buncrana pier claim, Sinn Féin minutes

News Letter front page Image copyright News Letter

There's no harmony between the front pages, with all of them taking a different lead this morning.

To minute or not to minute? The News Letter's Sam McBride has a political scoop.

Last week, the head of Northern Ireland's civil service admitted some governmental meetings were not minuted in order to frustrate Freedom of Information requests.

David Sterling said the DUP and Sinn Féin were sensitive to criticism.

The paper says Sinn Féin made "furious denials" of his claims. However it reports that a Sinn Féin minister asked civil servants not to attend a key meeting after which a policy was "controversially changed".

It says it has evidence which shows that Chris Hazzard had been due to bring civil servants to a meeting with MP Paul Maskey and taxi company owners.

Image caption Chris Hazzard was the then Minister for Infrastructure

However the paper asserts Mr Hazzard told the officials not to attend "at the last minute", meaning no department records exist.

A "significant policy change" was announced 10 days later - that taxis would be allow on the Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) routes on a trial basis.

Sinn Féin told the paper it had adhered to all "protocols relating to the conduct of their ministerial business".

"It is for a minister to decide who should accompany them to a meeting," it added.

Image copyright OTHER
Image caption The victims were, from left, Mark McGrotty, 12, and Evan McGrotty, 8, Sean McGrotty, 49, Ruth Daniels, 57, and Jodie Lee Daniels, 14

The Irish News leads on reports a woman who helped in the Buncrana Pier rescue has claimed compensation against the victim's estate.

The Buncrana pier tragedy took the lives of five members of a family whose car went into Lough Swilly from a slipway in March 2016.

Stephanie Knox was the then girlfriend of Davitt Walsh, the man who helped save a baby from the car. She "watched the tragedy unfold" and took the baby until help came, the paper says.

Noel McGrotty, victim Sean McGrotty's father, said he received notification of a claim.

However Miss Knox's solicitor said she did not send any such letter to the McGrotty family.

Miss Knox posted on social media that she "assumed her claim would have been against the council and an insurance firm".

"Never in my life did I think it would be coming from the family," she said.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the same woman in Mr Jackson's house in June 2016

"A woman is entitled to say no, rape trial jury told." - The Belfast Telegraph leads with the ongoing rape trial of two Ulster rugby players.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the same woman in Mr Jackson's house in June 2016.

The paper reports that on the second day of her summing up, the judge in the case told the jury a woman is "entitled to decide what sexual activity she wants, how far she is prepared to go, what she does not want to do".

Judge Patricia Smyth told the jury their only task was to "decide on the evidence they had heard whether the prosecution has made you sure of the defendants' guilt".

Van the man's relief

The Irish News reports on the "relief" of one of Belfast's most famous sons that his divorce proceedings are over.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Van Morrison said that at his age, divorce was a 'wearying and protracted experience'

Van Morrison said he had faced a "storm" over the lengthy divorce from former Miss Ireland Michelle Rocha.

He said that, at his age, it was a "wearying and protracted experience".

Nerves can get the better of anyone and it seems Snow Patrol front man Gary Lightbody is no exception, reports the News Letter.

The Bangor man performed on Sport Relief Live on Friday night, but felt the need to apologise after feeling he could have done better.

He tweeted: "My vocal performance tonight was just not good enough. In fact it was bad.

"It was our first live performance in seven years and I was very nervous. To the lovely people at Sport Relief, I am deeply sorry."

However fans were more than forgiving with one replying: "I'd rather hear a performance slightly off than people mime."

Even former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler told him to find solace in former performances, citing his Oxygen 2009 gig.