Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Patient recall, GAA 'threat' and 'biscuitgate'

News Letter

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the news that the Belfast Health Trust is refusing to make public a report that sparked Northern Ireland's biggest ever patient recall.

It says the trust is claiming the report is "personal" to the consultant neurologist at the centre of the controversy - Dr Michael Watt.

Amanda Scott, whose daughter Zoe suffered a stroke and, after more than four years in the care of Dr Watt, was diagnosed with a terminal brain condition, said it was "shameful".

The refusal came as Richard Pengelly, the Department of Health's top civil servant, vowed the review of Dr Watt's work would be "an open and robust process".

'Biscuitgate'

The newspaper also carries a story that has been dubbed 'Biscuitgate' - a row over the number of biscuits provided to councillors at 'crunch' meetings in Derry City and Strabane District Council.

The Telegraph says it began after councillors attending meetings in Strabane found they were being given three biscuits, while in Londonderry's Guildhall it was just one.

The row has now apparently been settled after councillors agreed to make a donation to charity each time they indulge in a sweet treat.

National Trust 'threat'

The Irish News reports that the National Trust has been accused of threatening a County Antrim GAA club after a senior member criticised the conservation charity on Facebook.

Dr John McSparren - a former Antrim GAA county board chairman - told the paper the National Trust warned that his online comments could impact on the renewal of the Cushendun hurling club's lease.

Image copyright © Copyright Dennis Reynolds/Geograph
Image caption Dr John McSparren said the National Trust was not properly investing in parts of Cushendun

In a Facebook post, the 51-year-old GP had claimed the National Trust was not properly investing and promoting areas of the coastal village under its stewardship.

He said the club was subsequently told "such criticism could be taken into consideration when the terms of the new lease for the hurling club were being finalised".

In a statement, the trust said "having worked collaboratively" with the GAA club, approval for a new lease had been granted and that it intended to engage with the community to "shape the future of the village".

The Daily Mirror carries the story of what it describes as 'The Balmoral Showdown' - a conversation between Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson that went from "agri to agro".

Image caption Martina Anderson challenged Karen Bradley over Brexit and a border poll

The pair clashed over Brexit and a border poll at the Balmoral Show on Thursday.

It was clear from the unscheduled exchange that they did not see eye to eye on either issue.

Brexit announcement

Finally, the News Letter leads with the news that a new UK government proposal to ensure there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit is expected to be published within weeks.

Following a high-level meeting in Sofia on Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May reiterated that a proposed 'backstop' customs arrangement put forward by the European Commission was "unacceptable" and that the UK would soon be presenting its own white paper.

Inside the paper it covers Thursday's court case involving Darren McPeake, a County Antrim man who admitted dishonestly receiving a stolen parrot named Barney, six tortoises, five birds, a python and a chameleon.

It says he was keeping a "quasi-Noah's Ark" in his Ballymena home. McPeake was not charged with any role in the actual theft from the pet shop the animals were taken from.

Rather, he said, he was asked "to keep" the animals for others.

He was given a six month jail term, suspended for two years.