Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Hotel crush timeline and TV licence plan

Front page of the News Letter on Tuesday Image copyright News Letter
Image caption Front page of the News Letter on Tuesday

The Irish News font page focuses on the timeline of events which led to the deaths of three teenagers in a crush outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, County Tyrone.

The newspaper says it has learned that police officers who attended the scene failed to intervene for 16 minutes.

Morgan Barnard, 17, Lauren Bullock, 17, and Connor Currie, 16, died following the incident on 17 March.

The PSNI previously said an investigation was required to fully establish the facts and it was awaiting the outcome of an independent Police Ombudsman's investigation.

The Police Ombudsman said its investigation into the "initial police actions at the scene is ongoing".

It added that it could not comment about "the nature of that investigation except to say that all reasonable lines of enquiry in relation to the police response will be pursued".

Elsewhere, in a separate story, the newspaper reports that more than a third of the PSNI's specialist crime operations could choose to retire within two years leaving a "capability and capacity" gap.

It says details have emerged in an inspection carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, carried out in June 2018, and released on Monday.

It says "the service has established through an officer survey, that up to 37% of detectives in the crime operations branch could choose to retire within two years".

The announcement by the BBC that free TV licences for up to 3.7m pensioners are being scrapped makes the front pages of the Daily Mirror and the News Letter.

Under the new rules, only low-income households where one person receives the pension credit benefit will still be eligible for a free licence.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Free TV licences for up to 3.7m pensioners are being scrapped, the BBC has announced

The commissioner for older people in Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch, criticises the move as "unfair" in the News Letter and claims it will affect more than 75,000 people over the age of 75 living in Northern Ireland.

The BBC has said "fairness" was at the heart of the ruling, which comes into force in June 2020.

The Belfast Telegraph highlights a call from NI Retired Police Officers Association chairman Raymond Fitzsimmons for a public retraction of comments made by Amnesty International's Patrick Corrigan.

The newspaper says Mr Corrigan's comments were made ahead of a judicial review into a police raid on the homes of journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.

The investigative journalists had been involved in a documentary film, No Stone Unturned.

It examined the Royal Ulster Constabulary's handling of the 1994 Loughinisland killings by the UVF.

Earlier this month, police dropped their investigation into the journalists.

The Belfast Telegraph along with a number of the other newspapers reports that Diageo, the makers of Guinness, have said that they will meet with the bosses of London Irish rugby club over "serious concerns" regarding the signing of former Ulster player Paddy Jackson.

In a statement, Diageo said the decision was "not consistent with our values".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Paddy Jackson has signed for London Irish

London Irish said its management was "aware that Diageo would be releasing a statement regarding the meeting scheduled for this week".

It said there had been "ongoing dialogue with all of our sponsors regarding the Paddy Jackson signing, as part of our continued commitment to work closely with all of our partners".

In 2018, the player's contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union was terminated in the wake of being found not guilty of rape after a trial.

He and team-mate Stuart Olding were acquitted, but they were sacked over messages exchanged via text and social media, which were revealed in court.

Both players later later signed for French clubs, with Jackson moving to Perpignan, and Olding joining Brive.