Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Overtime bill and sinking car rescue

Front page of the News Letter on Monday Image copyright News Letter
Image caption Front page of the News Letter on Monday
The Daily Mirror Image copyright The Daily Mirror
Image caption Front page of the Daily Mirror on Monday

Pay is a hot topic in the newspapers on Monday morning, with the Belfast Telegraph's front page reporting that the overtime bill for Northern Ireland government departments topped £16m in the last year.

The paper says it is a 9% increase on the previous year's expenditure, with four of the nine Stormont departments having costs above £1m.

The Department of Finance, which released the figures, said the expenditure was the result of staff "undertaking essential work" and "delivering a wide range of services".

The Daily Mirror's front page reports claims that ambulance service medics from Northern Ireland are considering legal action over a "long-running job rank row".

The issue relates to the level of pay for paramedics and emergency medical technicians compared to their counterparts in the UK.

The NI Ambulance Service says it remained committed to the "job evaluation process and resolving outstanding issues as a matter of priority".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Overtime pay for civil servants features on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph

Elsewhere, the Irish News reports that the alleged leaking of information to the media by senior DUP figures is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

At the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) inquiry in October last year, it emerged that Simon Hamilton's former adviser, John Robinson, sent anonymous emails to the economy department's permanent secretary in early 2017 in an attempt to shift the focus from the party over the scheme's fallout.

Mr Hamilton, the former economy minister, conceded it had not been his "proudest moment".

He said at the time the DUP had been under significant attack from all sides and had very little to "fire back".

The Information Commissioner's Office confirmed to the Irish News it was carrying out a criminal investigation into a complaint received from the Renewable Heat Association of Northern Ireland.

The DUP said it would not be commenting on a live investigation.

Ambulance call targets

The paper also reports that more than 20 schools have been identified as having sustainability issues and could be considered for closure.

It follows the publication of an annual action plan by the Education Authority, which details where schools should be shut, merged or expanded.

A number of Monday's newspapers report that just over a third of the most urgent ambulance calls in Northern Ireland received a response within the target time last year.

The official targets state 72.5% of the most serious calls should be reached within eight minutes.

The rate achieved in the past year was 37%.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service blamed the figures on the continuing high levels of demand.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A car had gone into the water at Muckross Pier on the Boa Island Road in Kesh on Saturday night

The News Letter leads with the rescue of a woman from a submerged car in Lower Lough Erne, County Fermanagh.

It says three police officers have been hailed as heroes following the incident on Saturday night.

The woman remains in a critical condition in hospital.

The News Letter says the police officers were treated for shock-type symptoms from entering the cold water.

The Belfast Telegraph has an interview with a member of the public, Alistair McCammon, who says he repeatedly dived underwater in his efforts to save the woman.