Northern Ireland

NI newspapers: 'Secret' murder bids and angry victims

News Letter Image copyright News Letter
Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

The Belfast Telegraph leads with an exclusive about 56 attempted murders that went unreported in Northern Ireland over the last two years.

The paper explains that police usually inform the media about serious crimes by issuing press releases.

But it says this did not happen in more than a third of attempted murder cases.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the paper has found that of the 172 attempted murders investigated in 2017 and 2018, 56 cases were not publicised.

It speaks to the Society of Editors, which argued that the public has a right to know about serious crimes in their communities.

However, a PSNI statement said decisions to issue press releases depend upon the "investigative merit and nature of the incident".

It added that the wishes of victims were taken into consideration, especially when the attempted murder "may be of a domestic nature".

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Image caption The papers report that the number of children in NI's care system has reached a record high

The News Letter leads with a joint warning from two victims groups that they will not support the government's current plans to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

Definition of a victim

The groups, Innocent Victims United (IVU) and the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), are among some of the largest organisations representing people who were bereaved or injured in more than 30 years of violence.

In an opinion piece, the groups outline their opposition to any legacy plans that would be similar to those proposed in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

Listing 10 objections to the proposals, their number one issue is how the government defines a victim.

The groups say that the "current definition which equates the innocent with the perpetrator" is responsible for the "ongoing re-traumatisation" of victims.

Inside, the News Letter reports that the number of children in the care system has reached a record high.

There are currently more than 3,100 children in care in Northern Ireland, according to the Fostering Network, which has appealed for more foster carers to ease the strain on the system.

The paper says there has been a rising trend in the number of children being taken into care since records began more than 25 years ago.

The annual figures have been publicised since the introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, at which time there were 2,624 children in care.

GAA showdown

The top story in the Irish News is a charity fundraising match in memory of a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) footballer who died in a crash on the A1 last year.

Karl Heaney was travelling home from football training when he was killed in a two-vehicle collision at a "notorious blackspot" on the main Belfast to Dublin road.

Image caption Karl Heaney's loved ones are campaigning for road safety improvements on the A1

Since his death, his girlfriend and family have been campaigning for an upgrade of the A1, including new safety measures on the road.

The paper says former GAA stars from Counties Armagh and Down will meet for a charity "showdown" in Newry next weekend, in tribute to the former Newry Mitchels player.

The Mirror reports that a rugby player was arrested on a flight from Belfast to Bristol, after an alleged assault on a female cabin crew member.

The paper says the Easyjet flight was delayed for more than 90 minutes on Friday, while the unnamed player was escorted from the aircraft.

The ongoing hardship of mesh surgery patients is painfully illustrated in the Mirror, which speaks to a 44-year-old man who says his life has been ruined by the treatment.

Damian Murtagh, from Warrenpoint, had a mesh inserted to treat a pelvic hernia but the procedure has only added to his problems, leaving him in "indescribable pain".

"The mesh has hardened and instead of keeping a hernia in place, parts of my insides have grown around and through the mesh, leaving nerves damaged and exposed," he tells the paper.

He would like to have the mesh removed but has been advised "it would be like trying to take hair out of a lump of chewing gum without breaking the hair or damaging the gum".

'Reduced to tears'

Finally, the Belfast Telegraph has a heart-warming story of how a Northern Ireland politician was "reduced to tears" after a nurse sang to his grandmother as she lay ill in Altnagelvin hospital.

Councillor Jason Barr shared footage on social media of the 21-year-old nurse signing Amazing Grace to his 87-year-old gran, Nellie Barr.

The pensioner can be heard signing along, as it is one of her favourite songs.

Mr Barr was very moved by the gesture and praised the nurse for her "compassion".

The nurse, Brittany McArthur, did not know she was being filmed and has been taken by surprise by the reaction on social media.

She tells the paper she regularly sings with her patients, adding: "Nursing isn't just about the clinical stuff, it's about caring too."