Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Death driver's appeal; freedom ceremony cost

The front page of Thursday's News Letter Image copyright News Letter

The front pages of Thursday's Belfast Telegraph and News Letter focus on the reaction to a young driver who knocked down and killed a teenage jogger winning his appeal against the length of his jail sentence.

Nathan Finn, 20, of Keady Road in Armagh, was jailed for nine years for causing the death by dangerous driving of Lesley-Ann McCarragher, 19, in 2016.

Finn's sentence was reduced by one year to eight in the Appeal Court.

The McCarragher family have described the decision as "cruel" and called for a review of the sentencing framework.

Peter Dolan, whose son Enda was knocked down and killed by a drunk driver in 2014, tells the Belfast Telegraph the ruling is "shameful".

"I can't understand why this verdict has been delivered given the seriousness of the crime," he said.

Image copyright McCarragher family
Image caption Lesley-Ann McCarragher was jogging when she was struck by a vehicle

Politics dominates the front page of the Irish News as it reports that negotiation teams for the Conservatives and Labour are set to meet again on Thursday to seek a Brexit solution.

The DUP is at odds with Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit deal because of the Irish border backstop.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood tells the Irish News that Mrs May has "decided to ditch" the DUP.

However, the DUP's Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson says his party has not been "sidestepped" and he expects Mrs May's deal to "fall on its face".

Elsewhere, the newspaper reports claims from the Unite trade union that Flybe workers in Northern Ireland are concerned about their futures.

It comes after 10 of the airline's flights in and out of Belfast City Airport on Wednesday were cancelled.

"Unite represents more than 60 Flybe workers in Northern Ireland - we will be seeking answers and assurances for these members," said union representative George Brash.

The company blames an industry-wide shortage of pilots for the delays, as well as its own pilots taking holidays.

It says it will try to avoid job losses by filling internal vacancies with existing staff, including roles at other bases.

Image caption Processing and packing operations will continue at Moy Park's Ballymena plant

Concern over jobs is also covered in the Belfast Telegraph after the poultry firm Moy Park announced a temporary halt to some production at its factory in Ballymena, County Antrim.

It will stop slaughtering birds at the factory until January next year and its north Antrim hatchery will also be out of operation until November this year.

The Unite union claims the decision could "result in up to 400 job losses".

Moy Park says it "does not anticipate any job losses" due to the move.

The Daily Mirror reports that new information from the public on Wednesday led police to move their search in Ballyhalbert for missing County Down woman Lisa Dorrian to a different spot.

It says officers marked out the area, while military personnel deployed ground penetrating radar systems.

Police believe Miss Dorrian, 25, who went missing in 2005, was murdered.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption More than £1,000 was spent on flowers for a ceremony for Ronnie McFall

Finally, in the News Letter, the cost of granting the freedom of the borough of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon to two sportsmen has been criticised for "the lavishness of the spend".

Former Portadown Football Club manager Ronnie McFall was granted the honour in May 2017, with Ulster rugby player Rory Best receiving his accolade last September.

The News Letter says that as a result of a freedom of information request it has emerged that the total spend on conferring the honour on Mr McFall cost £15,458.26.

Catering for the event cost more than £4,500 and more than £1,000 was spent on flowers.

A spokesperson for Save Craigavon City Park and Lakes said it was waiting on the costs for Mr Best's freedom honour, "which we are led to believe will be substantially more".

The council confirmed the figure for the cost of Mr McFall's freedom of the borough ceremony in a statement.

It said that a notice of motion was passed unanimously to grant the freedom of the borough to Mr McFall for the "significant contribution he has made to sport in the Borough and in NI".