Northern Ireland

Paper review: Gerry and the Prince, church 'won't back down'

News Letter front page Image copyright News Letter

A poignant handshake takes centre stage in the Belfast Telegraph, between the Prince of Wales and "ex-IRA bomber," Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are on a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

The papers show him sampling some craft beer in north Belfast and crowds gathered in Coleraine catch a glimpse of the royal.

It is here that the greeting, which follows on from his mother's historic handshake with the late Martin McGuinness, takes place.

Image copyright Brian Lawless/PA
Image caption The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly

Mr Kelly says he welcomed Charles in Irish, that he was still a republican and had "no difficulty" shaking his hand.

The Irish News reports that he "urged unionists to reciprocate" after the meeting.

The paper's front page focuses on the recall of Dr Michael Watt's neurology patients.

In May, more than 3,000 patients in Northern Ireland, including children, were recalled for a review amid concerns some may have been misdiagnosed.

Image caption On 18 May the Department of Health said 3,200 people had now been recalled

Now, the paper reports, the Belfast Trust did not carry out annual appraisals on the doctor in the two years before "the alarm was raised about his work".

The paper claims that assessments of the neurologists performance from 2014 to 2016 were not completed - five months after he was stopped from seeing patients.

The trust said "concerns regarding the conduct, health or performances of doctors are managed as they arise and are not dependent on appraisal".

It said it had already explained the action it took when concerns were identified in relation to Dr Watt.

However, it added that the independent inquiry into the matter will consider whether any concerns relating to the doctor prior to 2016, "should have provided grounds for earlier intervention".

'Cannot ignore bible'

Also on the front pages - the Belfast Telegraph reports that despite pressure from some quarters, The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI ) "won't back down on same-sex rule".

At last week's General Assembly the PCI adopted a new policy that anyone in a same-sex relationship cannot be a full member of the Church.

Since then, there has been criticism from some church-goers and commentators.

Image copyright Getty Images

However a former moderator of the PCI says the Bible speaks "unambiguously about marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman".

Writing in the paper, Dr Stafford Carson says that "we cannot ignore this clear teaching".

He adds that Christians should "honour and love Christ, even if this means conflict with society".

The News Letter reports that "victory" is in sight for a woman who has long campaigned for her son to be legally entitled to cannabis oil for his seizures.

In 2017 Billy Caldwell, 12, became the first person in the UK to be prescribed the oil, but last month his GP was told he could no longer do so.

Last week his mother Charlotte Caldwell brought cannabis oil from Canada for her son, but it was confiscated at Heathrow on Monday.

Now the paper says a Tory MP has said medicinal cannabis could become legal in a year.

Dr Dan Poulter is calling for a change in the law to allow medicines derived form the banned drug to be prescribed.

The MP is setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group on the matter and said a realistic goal was between a year and 18 months.

Deeper underground

There's something lurking underneath Belfast's streets, says the Irish News.

A large tunnelling machine is "working its way across the darkness of the sewers".

Image copyright NI WATER

NI Water is doing the work under the city centre as part of the £5m project to improve the city's Victorian sewer system.

Shoppers and workers in Belfast are happily unaware that the behemoth of the sewers is beneath the surface.

The hope is the risk of heavy flooding, which Belfast experiences during heavy rainfall, will be reduced.

NI Water says the work should be completed by August 2018.