Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Public pension and Heaney centre concerns

Newsletter front page Image copyright Newsletter
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Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

Controversial public sector pension investments, "remarkable" comments about the need for civil servants' scrutiny and the finances of the Seamus Heaney centre dominate today's front pages.

As the New IRA is blamed for a terror attack in London, a bereaved mum also tells the Daily Mirror about a decade of grief after her son, a young soldier, was shot dead alongside his friend in an Antrim barracks.

The Belfast Telegraph reveals that millions of pounds from a major pension fund for public sector workers in Northern Ireland is tied up in controversial investments.

Its front page story outlines concerns over retirement investments for 118,000 public sector workers through the NI Local Government Pension Scheme and claims money for around 200 organisations is invested in tobacco, the arms trade and companies criticised for not paying enough tax.

It also reveals fracking and alcohol investments for the funds of some public sector workers including teachers, councillors an Fire and Rescue Service personnel.

"Civil servants do not need scrutiny" is the News Letter's headline on Wednesday after Karen Bradley told Parliament that in the absence of devolution Stormont civil servants do not need political scrutiny.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Secretary of State Karen Bradley

The newspaper reports that the secretary of state made the "remarkable statements" to a virtually empty chamber in the House of Commons as she "rushed through Parliament in a single day a crucial piece of budgetary legislation which authorised billions of pounds of public spending in Northern Ireland".

Heaney centre

The Irish News reports that a high profile delegation from Mid Ulster Council is to travel to the US to seek support for the Heaney centre.

It claims the Seamus Heaney HomePlace museum has lost £1m since it opened in the poet and Nobel Laureate's home village of Bellaghy in County Londonderry in 2016.

A delegation from Mid Ulster District Council, including Heaney's son Christopher, will network with potential donors on the US trip.

In The Daily Mirror, the mother of young sapper Patrick Azimkar asks 'Where is the Justice?' for her son.

Image copyright MOD
Image caption Patrick Azimkar who was shot dead in 2009

Geraldine Ferguson tells the paper about her decade of pain since her 21-year-old son was shot dead alongside his friend Mark Quinsey at the Antrim barracks in March 2009. They were the first soldiers to be killed in Northern Ireland since 2007.

The story comes after the New IRA was blamed for a terror attack in London.

Ms Ferguson tells the paper her son was killed the night before he was due to board a place for Afghanistan - his first trip as a young soldier to a war zone.

"They were a strong group of friends, they'd become like brothers and they planned to look after each other," she said.