Northern Ireland

Thursday's headlines: PSNI apology and the meaning of love

News Letter front page Image copyright News Letter

A police apology over a failure to disclose secret files about a loyalist mass shooting to the Police Ombudsman dominates Thursday's headlines.

"Loyalist killings reports delayed after new info found," is the headline in the Irish News.

The information relates to the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) murder of five people at Sean Graham's bookmakers in south Belfast in 1992.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has denied deliberately withholding the files.

The Irish News says the discovery of "significant" new information on PSNI computers has forced the Police Ombudsman to delay the publication of three reports covering more than 20 murders.

Image caption The attack in February 1992 was carried out by the Ulster Freedom Fighters

The News Letter reports that "human error" has been blamed for the data failings.

It adds that "significant, sensitive information" about the betting shop attack was not made available to Police Ombudsman investigators.

The Belfast Telegraph also carries the story, saying that the PSNI has "offered the Police Ombudsman 'full and unfettered access' to its 'archaic' legacy computer systems".

'Disgusted and heartbroken'

It quotes a Sinn Féin councillor's son, who suggests the failure proves the PSNI is "no different to the RUC".

Fionnbharra O'Hagan, whose father Bernard was shot dead in Magherafelt, County Londonderry, in 1991, told the paper that his family were "disgusted, angry and heartbroken at this latest development".

Belfast Telegraph commentator Suzanne Breen writes: "It's a sign of how seriously the PSNI took the Police Ombudsman's latest revelation that it held a press conference to address the matters raised before they were even in the public domain."

Image copyright Daily Mirror

The Daily Mirror leads with the shocking story of a girl who was raped in north Belfast by a boy she met on Facebook.

The girl, who was 12 years old at the time, was attacked by the then 16 year old boy in the Waterworks area two years ago.

During a week-long trial, her attacker, now 18, told Belfast Crown Court that "she knew what age I was and still agreed to meet me".

He will be sentenced next month.


Meanwhile, the Irish News also reports on the charging of a man and woman over the murder of Pat Ward in Clogher, County Tyrone, last weekend.

The paper carries photographs of 33-year-old Karen McDonald and 23-year-old Niall Cox.

Mr Ward's body was found in an alleyway on Saturday morning.

In the Belfast Telegraph, BBC Northern Ireland presenter Stephen Watson speaks about how he is coping with continual kidney dialysis.

Image caption Stephen Watson has spoken to the Belfast Telegraph about his kidney failure

The sports journalist explained that his first transplanted kidney - donated by his father - lasted for almost 30 years, but he now needs a new one.

"I've had dialysis in Paris for the Ryder Cup, I've had it in Ballyliffen [for the Irish Open]... I've also got it planned for the Masters in Augusta this April and for the Isle of Man TT," he says.

Although it is "tough at times", Mr Watson, who has not missed a day of work due to sickness in 20 years at the BBC, adds that he is confident he will find a donor.

"If you're going to have a kidney problem, Northern Ireland is the place to have it because Belfast City Hospital is a world leader in transplantation," he says.

'Warm feeling'

And finally, a host of well-known names have spoken to the Belfast Telegraph about what love means to them.

"It's that warm feeling after being together for decades," says BBC Radio Ulster's Kerry McLean, who is married to fellow presenter Ralph McLean.

In the same feature, SDLP councillor Máiría Cahill pays tribute to her daughter, who was devastated by the loss of her pet rabbit this week.

Image caption Máiría Cahill spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about what love means to her

"My eyes burned as I watched tears dripping off her wee nose," she writes.

"The tears subsided and, as Valentine's Day arrives, I am reminded that love isn't always hearts and flowers.

"Love, or loss of it, can hurt, and heal. A parent will always try to ease their child's feelings.

"That's love. Even if you have to organise a pet funeral."

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