Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Police attack and victims forum row

front page of the news letter Tuesday 3 April 2018 Image copyright News Letter
front page of the Daily Mirror Tuesday 3 April 2018 Image copyright Daily Mirror

Images of an illegal republican parade which took place in Londonderry on Monday make the front pages of three of Northern Ireland's papers.

Police were attacked with petrol bombs and stones during the Easter Rising 1916 commemoration parade in the Creggan estate.

Image copyright Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Image caption PSNI Land Rovers were attacked with petrol bombs

Around 200 people attended the parade which was led by masked men in paramilitary-style uniforms.

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill condemned the violence, reports the Irish News.

On Monday, the party's northern leader tweeted: "Everyone has a right to remember their dead in a respectful and dignified way.

"Masked individuals, causing disturbance, youths throwing petrol bombs etc is far from dignified."

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Media captionPolice attacked during republican parade in Londonderry

The News Letter reports that the NI police federation described the attack as "attempts to maim or kill" officers.

While Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie told the Belfast Telegraph it was a "depressing reflection of our past".

Image copyright PAcemaker Press
Image caption Ulster Rugby Coach Jono Gibbes

'Banned Questions'

The Ulster rugby rape trial continues to make headlines after team coach, Jono Gibbes held his first press conference since the conclusion of the trial last week.

On Wednesday, Paddy Jackson, 26, and Stuart Olding, 25, were both acquitted of rape following a nine week long trial at Belfast's crown court.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Both Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson were found not guilty in unanimous verdicts

The Belfast Telegraph reports that "bosses banned questions" about the trial at the media event.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Ulster Rugby have launched a review into the men's conduct and both remain suspended.

It comes after it was revealed that fellow Ulster rugby player, Craig Gilroy, was part of a WhatsApp group, which was scrutinised during court proceedings, that used offensive terms about women.

The Irish News reports that Gilroy, 27, is still available for selection for the teams Guinness PRO14 match against Edinburgh on Friday.

Image caption Two-thirds of all police stations in Northern Ireland have been shut in the last decade.

'Not about buildings'

The News Letter reports that two-thirds of all police stations in Northern Ireland have been shut in the last twenty years.

The paper states that in 1999 there were 141 police stations - dropping to 47 in 2017.

In the same time period, the total number of full-time officers has dropped from 8,485 to 6,688.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd told the paper: "Policing isn't about buildings".

"Nearly all policing services are now delivered outside of stations."

'Burning smell'

The front page of the Daily Mirror reads: "Why no justice?"

Samantha Thompson, 38, who survived the IRA Warrington bombing in England in 1993, has spoken to the paper about her experience of the explosion.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Johnathan Ball, three, and Tim Parry, 12, died in the IRA bombing

Only 13 at the time, Ms Thompson was baby-sitting three-year-old Johnathan Ball when the bomb went off.

The blast killed the toddler and left Ms Thompson injured by shrapnel.

She told the paper her memories were "as clear as ever".

"I will never forget the smell. It was like lighting a match, a burning smell," she said.

No-one has been charged over the atrocity, but Ms Thompson said: "Hopefully, one day they will get somebody for it. I would like to think so."

Victims forum fallout

Police have confirmed they will look into bombing claims made in a documentary by a convicted IRA man, following controversy over his appointment to the Victims and Survivors Forum, reports the News Letter.

Robert McClenaghan's grandfather was one of the victims of the UVF McGurk's Bar bombing in 1971.

The paper reports that Mr McClenaghan told documentary makers that he was "immensely proud" of joining the IRA and that it was his "daily job" to plant bombs across Belfast.

The comments are part of a documentary called 'When the war ends' by Thijs Schreuder.

At the weekend, the paper revealed that fellow forum member, Jackie Nicholl, had resigned after finding out about Mr McClenaghan's past.

Mr Nicholl's 17-month-old son Colin was murdered by the IRA in a bomb attack on a Belfast furniture shop in 1971.

Image copyright McLaughlin family
Image caption Danielle McLaughlin was described as a 'friendly, quiet girl who loved to travel'

Seeking justice

The mother of an Irish backpacker who was killed in India has said she wants to know why her daughter was murdered, reports the Daily Mirror.

Danielle McLaughlin, who was from Buncrana, County Donegal, was found dead in a field close to tourist resorts in the western state of Goa in March 2017.

The 28-year-old's mother, Andrea Brannigan told the paper: "I would love whoever did this to give empathy and reach out to me and tell me why.

"I'm never going to get closure, because it doesn't matter what happens out of the justice system. I'm not going to get her walking through the door," she said.

Vikat Bhagat, 24, has been charged with Danielle McLaughlin's murder.