Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Aidan McAnespie charge; NI's oldest woman dies

News Letter front page 20 June 2018 Image copyright News Letter

The death of a woman thought to be Northern Ireland's oldest person and a Fermanagh sporting anthem are among the stories in Wednesday's papers.

But the story owning the most front page real estate is the decision to charge a former soldier over a man shot dead in County Tyrone.

"Soldier trial renews fears of imbalance," declares the News Letter's front page.

"Family of GAA fan shot dead by soldier welcome charge" states the headline of the lead story in the Irish News.

There are two different takes on Tuesday's news that the soldier will face a charge of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of Aidan McAnespie.

The Irish News reports that the family are "very happy" at the decision by prosecutors.

Image caption Aidan McAnespie was shot as he walked through a checkpoint

"We are hoping now that after 30 years when we get David Holden into court we will get answers we never got before," Mr McAnespie's brother, Vincent, told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the News Letter reports that the case has brought more concerns over what unionists see as an "imbalance" in prosecutions over Troubles-era deaths.

"It is evidence that the current process is unfair and unbalanced and focussed almost entirely on the 10% of deaths resulting from state forces, rather than the 90% of killings committed by illegal paramilitary organisations," DUP MP Sir Jeffery Donaldson told the paper.

Elsewhere on the News Letter's front page, there's a striking photograph of the family of murdered prison officer David Black leaving Belfast's courthouse after the paper reports the potential collapse of the trial of a man charged in connection with his death.

The judge ruled that it would be unsafe and unreliable to convict Damien Joseph McLaughlin in connection with Mr Black's murder - but, the paper reports, prosecutors are considering an appeal.

'Victory for Billy'

Crime and punishment is also the theme on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph.

"Brexit to scupper scheme to extradite suspects" is the headline following a warning by the PSNI's chief constable that Northern Ireland's security could be compromised when the UK comes out of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system.

"For the PSNI, the EAW is particularly critical in our continued collaboration with An Garda Síochána and ensuring that the border cannot be used by criminals to evade prosecution."

The Daily Mirror's front page instead looks at the ongoing story of Billy Caldwell, with the headline "Victory for Billy".

It says his mother's campaign to allow the 12-year-old access to cannabis-based medicine has triggered a U-turn by the UK government.

His mother, Charlotte, tells the paper: "He made history - for that I'm grateful. Thousands more remain in crisis. So they've got until July 19 to get over the line."

Meanwhile the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex are coming to Dublin - a move celebrated by the Mirror with the headline "Meguinness".

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The couple announced their engagement in November

The paper reports that the trip on 10 July will be Harry and Megan's first official foreign engagement - and, yes, it will involve a tour of the Guinness Brewery.

Bittersweet news in the Belfast Telegraph, which reports that a Belfast woman thought to be Ireland's oldest person has died at the age of 109.

Ellie Lawther was born before the partition of Ireland and lived through the sinking of the Titanic and two world wars.

Her son, Frederick, 79, told the Belfast Telegraph that the family believe she was the oldest person on the island and "certainly in Northern Ireland".

The secret to her longevity was said to be hard work, good food and no alcohol or tobacco - and, despite her advancing years, birthdays remained important.

"She was the sort of person that didn't want a fuss over her birthdays," said Frederick. "But at the same time she expected everybody to be there with a nice cake." Just right, too.

Image copyright Vimeo/YouTube
Image caption John Slowey (left), the man behind Fermanagh's new sporting anthem, and John Barnes, who can be slow or fast but will always get to the line

And finally, move over World in Motion - there's a new sporting anthem on the scene.

Fermanagh have never won an Ulster Football Championship but they have an opportunity to make history this week against Donegal - and now they have a specially-penned song to help get them over the line.

The song, set to the tune of Avicii's hit Wake Me Up, has already had thousands of hits online and what it lacks in John Barnes rapping it more than makes up in local celebrities (Fr Brian D'Arcy!) and tongue-in-cheek topical references ("we sent an invite out to Arlene, she wants to sit with Aidy Breen").

John Slowey, the man behind the music, said he hoped the song would "create a buzz around the county... getting everyone together for a bit of a laugh and supporting the team as we go along".

Sounds pretty good - but it's no Diamond Lights.