Northern Ireland

NI newspapers: Child mauled and social media abuse tragedy

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

All four of Northern Ireland's biggest daily newspapers lead with a different story and all four front pages make for disturbing reading.

The Irish News reports that an eight-year-old girl has been mauled by a "pitbull-type dog" in north Belfast.

Annie McFadden needed 80 stitches for wounds to her head, arm and upper body after she was attacked near her home on the Cliftonville Road on Sunday.

The paper says she was "pinned to the ground" by the unleashed animal.

Her grandmother says that Annie managed to get up and run away after the initial attack, but the dog followed her and mauled her again.

Police told the paper that the local dog warden will be carrying out an investigation.

'Harsher consequences'

The Belfast Telegraph reports on the death of a 27-year-old man whose family say he killed himself after being subjected to abuse on social media.

Kenny Greg, a father-of-one from Dundonald, was found dead in his parents home in January, after an apparent overdose.

His heartbroken sister, Carolyn, tells the paper he "couldn't deal with" abusive comments and she claims that trolls drove him to his death.

"He had actually emailed some of the negative material to his solicitor the day before he took his own life," she says.

Carolyn says there should be "harsher consequences for trolls" and has launched a petition for a change in the law to "stop to people being targeted on the internet and social media".

'Sickening'

The News Letter also leads with a call for a new to law to deter people from using technology to abuse others.

This time, the issue is "upskirting" after a teenager was sentenced for taking photographs and videos up the skirts of two teachers at a County Fermanagh school.

Timothy Boomer, who is now 18, was told he must complete a 20-hour "restorative programme" as a result of his conviction for outraging public decency.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Timothy Boomer, now 18, took the images when he was 14 and 15

Upskirting has recently become a criminal offence in England and Wales but there is no such law in Northern Ireland.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) told the News Letter that both teachers have post-traumatic stress disorder.

The union has called for specific legislation in Northern Ireland to ban upskirting without consent.

The jailing of a former Celtic youth team football coach for a "sickening catalogue" of child sex abuse makes the front page of the Daily Mirror.

Jim McCafferty admitted abusing 10 teenage boys between 1972 and 1996.

Image copyright Alan Lewis
Image caption Jim McCafferty was already serving a jail term after a trial in Northern Ireland

McCafferty, now 73, was jailed for almost seven years at Edinburgh High Court.

He was already serving a jail term for abusing a victim from Northern Ireland and the paper says "vital evidence" from this man helped to "cage the monster".

Flag ruling

Staying with the courts, all the papers report on the failure of a legal challenge against public displays of the union flag.

A woman form Omagh, County Tyrone, took a case against Northern Ireland's secretary of state in protest at the flying of the flag outside courts and government buildings.

Helen McMahon's legal team argued that that practice was a breach of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement as it denied members of the nationalist community equal treatment.

However, senior judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that flying the flag on 15 designated days was neither discriminatory not provocative.

"Rather it should be regarded as a pragmatic reflection of the current reality of the constitutional position," their ruling stated.

'Casual sectarianism'

The Irish News and others report a call by comedian Patrick Kielty for an end to religiously segregated education in Northern Ireland.

Image caption Patrick Kielty said Northern Ireland must address "tribalism"

The comedian made his remarks at a University of Ulster conference about tackling sectarianism.

"I think we really have to address education, segregated education, and I think that as a society we kind of have to start calling out that casual sectarianism," he said

"Whenever we had peace here we thought if we move on to a Glaswegian level of sectarianism that is fine, so we only hate each other every week when we go to football," he said.

"That is not good enough. The tribalism of that is not good enough."