Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Jailed footballer and a 'prevented attack'

Daily Mail NI Image copyright Daily Mirror

A footballer in jail and a mortar tube discovery that "undoubtedly prevented an attack" make the headlines in the Northern Ireland papers on Wednesday.

The Daily Mirror leads with Cliftonville footballer Jay Donnelly, who was jailed for three months for sharing an indecent image of a child.

In June 2016, he took a picture of a 16-year-old girl when they were having sex, shared it on Whatsapp and it was later leaked online.

The 23-year-old from north Belfast admitted the charge in November at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jay Donnelly plays for north Belfast club Cliftonville

He had been released on bail pending the outcome of the appeal on his sentence.

The newspaper reports that his family wept as he was led away after the judge declined to suspend his sentence on appeal.

The Irish Football Association has said it will consider a charge against Donnelly for "bringing football into disrepute".

'Extraordinary royal restoration'

The Belfast Telegraph leads with details of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall's trip to Hillsborough Castle.

Charles and Camilla took a tour of the newly renovated "home" of the Royal Family in Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall officially reopened Hillsborough Castle

The paper reports that Charles praised the "extraordinary" £20m building project, adding: "I hope Hillsborough Castle and gardens can be placed well and truly on the map."

He paid tribute to more than 700 contractors and craftspeople who were involved in the "long journey" of restoration.

The doors to the revamped castle, gardens and visitors' centre will open to the public later this month.

'Disgraceful attempt to murder police'

The Irish News headlines on the discovery of a horizontal mortar tube and command wire that was found in a security operation in County Down.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The weapon was found by a member of the public on Monday

The tube, which could be used to launch potentially dead mortars, was discovered on Drumnaquoile Road near Castlewellan on Monday afternoon.

The paper reports that a police officer said dissident republicans were responsible and that the discovery "had undoubtedly prevented an attack on local police".

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Police believe the weapon was going to be used to attack PSNI officers

Colin McGrath, an SDLP MLA in the area, said the device "could have brought death and destruction to the people of our area or PSNI personnel".

"This was a disgraceful attempt to murder or injure most probably a passing PSNI patrol," he adds.

'New stage in theological college journey'

And finally, the News Letter leads with the "exciting future" of the Union Theological College in Belfast in spite of the end of its relationship with Queen's University.

The university confirmed on Tuesday that it was cutting ties with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland college amid "concerns regarding the breadth and diversity of teaching".

The move comes after a review was initiated after the church voted last year to withhold membership from people in same-sex relationships.

Image copyright Albert Bridge
Image caption Belfast's Union Theological College is run by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Queens University also revealed that it will stop awarding degrees in theology in the near future.

Rev Trevor Gribben, the general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said the church was "disappointed" by the announcement but stressed it was a new start for the college.

He told the News Letter: "Union Theological College will have a positive and exciting future.

"This marks a new stage in the college's journey, one that has nearly lasted 173 years."

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