Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: St Patrick's Day 'split' and scone tragedy

Mirror Image copyright Mirror
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It's not quite a schism and there's no sign of a holy war, but the city of Armagh, Ireland's ecclesiastical capital, is split over St Patrick's Day.

The Irish News reports there will be two St Patrick's Day parades on two different days after unionists and nationalists disagreed.

This year, 17 March falls on a Sunday and the official council event was moved to Saturday after unionists voiced concerns, says the paper.

Community groups from a nationalist area of the city plan to hold a parade on the day itself.

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Image caption A dog's dinner? What's with Armagh's St Patrick's Day parades?

The paper reports that the Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute band will have their own march as usual and on St Patrick's morning the Catholic and Church of Ireland archbishops will lead their congregations to a celebration in the Shambles.

This part of the city may be aptly named, given that in total there will two competing marches on different days and four processions in total.

St Patrick may be rolling his eyes and sending back the snakes.

The Telegraph leads with the police investigation into the death of Jim Donegan.

Father-of-two Mr Donegan was shot at the wheel of his Porsche as he waited to collect his 13-year-old son from school on Glen Road in west Belfast on 4 December.

Image caption Jim Donegan was shot dead as he waited to pick his son up from school

The BBC reported on Monday that a former Scotland Yard detective had criticised the local police for not interviewing people who worked in the same complex where Mr Donegan ran his business.

But PSNI Det Ch Super Raymond Murray "hit back at the criticism", he tells the Telegraph the murder investigation is "progressing at pace".

The paper also features a front-page picture of John and Philomena Devine on their wedding day.

Their love story is told in a Northern Ireland hospice video filmed days before her death at the age of 31.

Philomena Devine had cervical cancer. Her sister, Seana Gamble, tells the paper that the hospice made every moment count in her final weeks.

"Philomena was told she didn't have long to live and that she should live every day like it was her last. She took those words and she ran with that," she said.

For Valentine's Day, the nurses decorated her room, making it a "love hub" for the couple. They made beautiful memories for the family.

"We can't thank the hospice enough," says Seana.

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Image caption Six men were shot dead as they watched a football match in a pub in Loughinisland in 1994

The murders of six men by the Ulster Volunteer Force in Loughinisland 25 years ago remains the focus of the News Letter's front-page stories.

Six men - all Catholics - died in the 1994 attack. They were watching a World Cup match in The Heights bar on 18 June when gunmen burst in and shot them. Five others were wounded.

A subsequent report by the NI Police Ombudsman found there had been collusion between police and the loyalist gunmen.

"UVF atrocity witness entirely implausible," reads the News Letter's Tuesday headline.

The paper reports that a key witness to the investigation had her evidence dismissed as "entirely implausible" following a reconstruction of events.

The paper says the witness gave a detailed account of her clear view of the getaway driver - "travelling at high speed at night on an unlit road" and also said that a police officer was secretly storing the car used by the killers.

But the paper quotes the 2016 ombudsman report stating she could not have identified the driver, that the car was crushed and that "the named driver was not, in fact, involved in the murders".

Image caption Sam McCready was a founder member of Belfast's Lyric Theatre

The News Letter devotes the top half of its front page to a suitably theatrical photograph of actor, playwright and teacher Sam McCready who has died.

Under the headline: Tributes to 'titan of Ulster theatre', the paper says McCready, a founder member of the Lyric Theatre, "inspired generations of actors through his teaching at home and in the United States".

The paper says that in a message on Facebook, his son, Richard wrote: "Every human connection he made enriched him and inspired him, and his lessons to all of us will never be forgotten."

Image copyright GlobalP/Getty
Image caption No more monkey business: should the zoo close its gates?

The Mirror returns to the scene of the crime - it can't keep monkeying about.

Its front-page story is, once again, the story of those chimpanzees and their "great escape" from the enclosure at Belfast Zoo, using a fallen branch as an improvised ladder.

Tuesday's headline reads: "Time to shut zoo gates", and it quotes Ulster Unionist Chris McGimpsey who says the zoo should close until a full investigation is carried out.

"It's just a litany of errors. We don't need a zoo any way, they've had their day," he tells the Mirror.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption You will, you will, you will... but should you?

Finally, is there nothing sacred?

The morning scone that hovers on the horizon like an oasis in the desert of bad meetings, is a killer to the waistline.

The Irish News devotes half of its front page to a beast of a cherry scone slathered in jam and being eaten in a way that is foreign to most of us - he's putting that baby in his mouth whole... who does that?

The worrying news is that a scone can carry a third of your recommended calories for the day - the equivalent of 10 sugar cubes and a mighty 750 calories even before you slather on the butter and jam.

It's a "weighty issue" says the paper.

There's worse news for those in love with the raspberry and white chocolate scone.

It has the highest fat content at 22.7g.

Remember... a minute on the lips, forever on the hips.