Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Paisley's £6,000 trip and grave plot prize

Front page of the News Letter Image copyright News Letter
Image caption Front page of the News Letter

DUP MP Ian Paisley features on the front page of the Irish News as it reports he claimed almost £6,000 from Cooperation Ireland to fly first class to a conference in New York.

It says Mr Paisley was a guest speaker at the 20 Years Of Peace conference last year, marking two decades since the Good Friday Agreement.

His flights cost £5,925.11 and his accommodation was £402.23.

The bill was covered by Cooperation Ireland, according to Mr Paisley's register of interests.

The newspaper says other conference participants, including tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney flew in economy to attend the conference - at less than a tenth of the price.

The DUP did not respond to requests for a comment on the flight to New York.

Last year, Mr Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days for "serious misconduct" for failing to declare two family holidays to Sri Lanka in 2013.

Separately, he was given a complimentary holiday at a luxury Maldives resort months after advocating on behalf of its government.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Ian Paisley appears on the front page of the Irish News

The Belfast Telegraph says a County Fermanagh care home site which was shut down by a health watchdog in 2017 after it uncovered "catastrophic" failings is set to reopen "in a matter of weeks".

Runwood Homes is due to reopen the Ashbrooke Care Home site in Enniskillen, but under a new name - Meadow View.

Ashbrooke was previously shut down by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

An RQIA spokesman said he could not comment on individual applications for registration, but that "it assesses every application for the registration of a service to determine whether they meet the legal requirements". Runwood Homes did not respond to a request for comment.

The Daily Mirror and News Letter front pages both cover a case at Londonderry Crown Court about a road traffic accident near Magherafelt.

Noel Young, 48, from Carraloan Road in Magherafelt has pleaded guilty to causing the death of his 82-year-old mother, Vera Young, following the crash in August 2015. She died in hospital, four days after the crash.

He also pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm by driving without due care and attention to Warunee Doherty and her father-in-law Bernard Doherty, who were travelling from Belfast International Airport to County Donegal for a family holiday.

The court heard a vehicle driven by the defendant collided almost head-on with the Doherty's car causing it to spin off the road and into a ditch. The court heard Ms Doherty who was 19 weeks pregnant was injured to such an extent that she lost her unborn child.

A solicitor for Noel Young said his client had several neuro-surgical procedures for aggressive tumours dating back to 2007 and that he should have been told "because of his ongoing medical condition not to drive". Young has been released on bail ahead of his sentencing next week.

Image caption Ashbrooke Care Home in Enniskillen was forced to close in 2017

The Irish News and News Letter highlight a major conference entitled Beyond Brexit which is to take place in Belfast later this month.

The News Letter says unionists have questioned the motives of those organising the event after no unionist politicians were invited.

Ulster Unionist MLA Steve Aiken said "the refusal of the organisers to invite unionist politicians is indicative that they have a pre-ordained agenda".

Co-organiser, Niall Murphy, confirmed at a launch event on Thursday that unionist politicians had not been asked to address the audience.

However he said representatives of "civic unionism" would participate in panel discussions and insisted the conference was open to everyone.

Finally, signed sports shirts and bottles of wine are usually the staples of sports fundraisers, but a County Monaghan GAA club has come up with something a bit different for its gala ball - "a graveyard plot for two".

A Golden Charolais weaning heifer has also been donated to Saturday's event organised by Corduff Gaels GFC, but club chairman Seamus McEnaney told the Irish News that the cemetery special was attracting the most interest.

"A few people have their eyes on it," he said.

"People are not very keen to go into the plot, but very keen to have one."