NI Paper review: Cookstown tragedy fallout dominates

Published
image source, News Letter
image source, Daily Mirror

Three of Northern Ireland's daily papers lead with the aftermath of the death of three teenagers at a hotel in Cookstown, County Tyrone.

The News Letter, Irish News and Belfast Telegraph focus on comments from owner of the Greenvale Hotel, Michael McElhatton.

He was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs on Wednesday before being de-arrested just hours later.

The powder at the centre of the suspicion was found to be "innocent" after a forensic examination.

"Police tried to blacken my name," is the headline in the Irish News.

The News Letter describes the situation as a "farce".

image source, PA
image captionGreenvale owner Michael McElhatton

"I'm no drug dealer," is the Belfast Telegraph's headline.

Mr McElhatton was in custody at the time of his arrest on suspicion of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of Lauren Bullock, 17, Morgan Barnard, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, who died after a crush in the queue for a disco at the hotel on St Patrick's Day.

Turning to education and the Belfast Telegraph reveals that Catholic Schools are dominating the A-Level league table, again.

Just one non-Catholic school made the top ten, according to the figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph - that was Friends' School in Lisburn, coming in at eight in the chart.

The Ulster Unionist MLA, Rosemary Barton, a former teacher, writes in the paper that the Department of Education and the other education sectors in Northern Ireland must examine what makes the Catholic maintained sector so successful.

Violence in schools

Staying with education and the Daily Mirror's front page says "Lessons must be learned" after a survey revealed that, according to paper, "Northern Ireland schools are gripped by unprecedented levels of violence".

A union representative told the paper that the situation is "totally unacceptable".

Turning to politics and writing in the Daily Mirror, Rev David Latimer writes that his friend, former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, would have found a way around the impasse preventing the return of devolution in Northern Ireland had he still been alive.

The Sinn Féin politician died two years ago today.

Writing in the Irish News, the paper's political correspondent John Manley agrees with Rev Latimer's thoughts, saying that politics "lost out" with Mr McGuinness' death.

Meanwhile, the News Letter carries comments from Terry Wright, which it describes as a "moderate unionist", criticising Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald for her approach.

"It is hard to shake hands with a closed fist," he said.