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Good evening, the headlines on BBC Newsline:
The Director of Public Prosecutions hits back at critics
It isn't something to this office and to the lawyers -- insulting who
do their work daily with absolute integrity.
A former Army colonel says he was a "kind
of torturer" when serving here during the Troubles.
Three people escape injury in a pipe bombing at a house in Londonderry.
Why the price of fruit and veg prices, bus fares
A little bit of Northern Ireland comes to Las Vegas as Carl Frampton
prepares for his world title defence at the weekend.
And the cold wind will ease over the next 24 hours,
but unfortunately we replace it with some rain.
The Director of Public Prosecutions has hit back at critics who have
accused him of treating former soldiers unfairly
by deciding to prosecute some for Troubles related killings.
Barra McGrory says they've insulted him and his team.
Our home affairs correspondant Vincent Kearney asked him to respond
to claims that he's not impartial because, as a solicitor,
he represnted the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Mystified is the mildest way I can put it because anyone who is
informed about these matters would know that as a professional lawyer
you represent anybody who seek the representation from you. I have been
a professional lawyer for 30 years during which period I have
represented many paramilitaries, Republic paramilitaries, members of
the DUP, members of Sinn Fein, I have represented a broad
cross-section of people. Who I have represented in the past really has
nothing to do with it. As Director of Public Prosecutions now, do you
view that criticism as an attempt to influence your decision making, an
attempt to put pressure on you not to prosecute former soldiers? I
can't speak for the motivation of people who say such things but some
of them ought to know better. If you're not trying to influence me,
then the are certainly being personally insulting and the
questioning my integrity. What concerns me more about that is it
isn't something to this office -- insulting and two lawyers who work
here and do their work daily with absolute integrity and to be
bettered ability. I am personally offended by the remarks but I am
more offended on behalf of of the individuals who work for the public
positives in service and who do a fantastic job. I think those making
the comments ought to think a bit more carefully before the speak.
Credit card questioned how you can decide to charge former soldiers
were one of your predecessors said there was insufficient evidence to
merit a prosecution. They have said you have reached a different
conclusion based on the evidence that was considered previously. That
inaccurate, Vincent. In each of the three soldiers cases which this
office has examined there has been new evidence, whether that be
evidence which has been forthcoming, following an inquest and referred to
me by the coroner, the powers available to coroners, or new
evidence obtained by PSN eye in the context of its investigations or in
any other context through forensic evidence which has emerged through a
variety of routes since the original decision was taken. Anyone who has
said that this is the retaking of a decision in respect of which nothing
else has changed is quite simply wrong.
The Director of Public Prosecutions speaking to Vincent Kearney.
Politicians have been divided on what Mr McGrory said.
And the legacy issue. There is a disproportionate evidence --
emphasis. Those people who have suffered as a result of terrorism
engagement aren't having their cases looked at all. As a consequence of
that, when the cases are investigated and sent up to the DUP,
he is making decisions in relation to the evidence that is brought to
him. Meanwhile the other cases aren't being looked at all. There is
a difficulty in terms of proportionality and there is
certainly a difficulty in relation to balance the needs to be
addressed. They are bound to be absolutely without practice and
unbiased, I believe that's 40 years. I don't even know any of the names
of the other people. But you try and attack that institution on the basis
that a small number, less than three soldiers, it may have been charged
and one or two of them, it is a pointless attack. It's not an
accusation, it's the perception on the streets from the large
proportion of this committee and if the perception is that the
investigations are against one particular group then there is an
issue here. That has to be addressed. I had a number of
meetings with Barra McGrory when I was Minister of justice and he was
doing his job as he was supposed to do, in partially considering the
evidence put before him by the police, when the cases were brought
to him. Campaigners for victims
of the Birmingham pub bombings have been told their lawyers will be able
to apply for legal aid. The Government has intervened
to remove legal barriers which had stopped their Northern Ireland based
solicitors from The inquests into the deaths of 21
people who were killed by the IRA in November 1974 are due to resume
later this year. A former army officer has said
he was a "kind of torturer" when it came to interrogating terrorist
suspects during the Troubles. Bob Stewart, who is now an MP,
was reacting to remarks by the US President Donald Trump about the use
of waterboarding when questioning Before entering the world
of politics, MP Bob Stewart The outspoken former army
colonel came to prominence However, it's remarks he made
about his time as an officer serving in Northern Ireland
during the Troubles that have The Conservative MP was speaking
on BBC radio earlier today. I was a soldier in north Belfast.
There were forbidden techniques introduced in 1977, some of which I
had used prior to that. Sleep deprivation. In a way, technically,
as you look at it today, I was the kind of the torturer. Of course, it
was acceptable then. It is no unacceptable. -- now with.
The UK Government authorised the use of five interrogation methods
during the early years of the Troubles, but this
A man who was arrested and claimed he was waterboarding
during questioning spoke to the BBC about it a few years ago.
The water torture, putting a gun against my head and seeing if I
didn't admit to killing a soldier they would have shot me dead.
A group known as the hooded men have been challenging the authorities
here over allegation of torture after they were
And that campaign is still going through the legal process.
Belfast City Council wants 66,000 more people to live here but is a
bigger city a better city? GPs have been saying for some time
that the profession is entering a "perfect storm" over problems
with recruitment and Yesterday their union voted
to ballot members on practices leaving the health service -
a move that would mean As our health correspondent
Marie-Louise Connolly reports, the fact that an increasing number
of doctors are choosing to remain as locums is only
adding to the problem. Conan Castles is typical
of a growing number of GPs. As one of over 400 locums
in Northern Ireland, he doesn't have a permanent position
and instead opts to fill As a locum, I still see patients as
any GP would and it means I can spend most of my time dealing with
their medical problems. But Dr Castles also represents
the growing number of GPs who don't want the same responsibilities
and burdens as their forefathers. Such a move is forcing
practices to adjust. There are a lot of negatives. A
large financial burden, especially people in retirement, spiralling
workload, taking away from tiny could be seeing patients. The
flexibility being a locum allows me to pick and choose when I want to
work and the time I can take off for holiday and see family is a big
plus. The British Medical Association has
been warning of the perfect storm for some time over a lack
of funding and recruitment. They say they're so frustrated that
yesterday they voted to take another step closer to actually leaving
the health service by asking members That means they'd work independently
and charge patients, While that may never
happen as we have already reported, what is unfolding
at Bannview Practice in Portadown is a real sign that
General Practice is in trouble. It's become the first local practice
to be managed and funded by a health trust as opposed
to being owned by GPs. This step away from how things have
been traditionally done is difficult But with 15 local doctors
due to retire in March, This GP due to retire in two years,
he's not confident about finding Young doctor is quite rightly want
to value their worklife balance, devalue their home life, they are
not really willing to commit to the time and work commitment that is
needed to be a partner in practice, particularly when they could earn
more or less the same money working as a locum.
General Practice is facing an uncertain future.
GPs now have to decide whether to support tradition or play a new role
But we will be keeping a close eye on what happens with GPs in the
weeks and months ahead. A man who died in a crash
on the Westlink yesterday afternoon was 69-year-old Victor Shaw
from north Belfast. The accident happened in the lane
out of the city near Roden Street. The road was closed for several
hours during the afternoon Another man died on
the roads last night. His motorbike was involved
in a crash with another vehicle on the Lough Fey Road near
Cookstown. Two men and a woman escaped injury
in a pipe bombing on a house Terrified neighbours say it left
their children deeply traumatised. Here's our north-west
reporter, Keiron Tourish. Police were carrying out an
extensive search of the gardens in the mainly Loyalist Irish street
after this pipe bomb attack last night. Two men and two women escaped
injury after the device exploded at 20 past ten in the garden of a
house. People say they were left badly shaken. The remnants of the
device were removed by army bomb experts. John lives two doors away
with his heavily pregnant wife and their two girls, aged five and
seven. What ever was throwing meet a bang, the rest of it was lying. We
thought the whole thing might have went off so we didn't know what to
do. The children were terrorised and scared to come back to the house
this morning. My wife is pregnant and I thought there was going to be
an early delivery last night. We're going to see if she can see her
doctor today. Up to 40 people were moved to a nearby community centre.
Detectives investigating this attack have issued an appeal for
information, they want to hear from anyone who noticed any suspicious
activity in this area around 10pm last night to get in touch.
Three men, including the Lurgan republican Colin Duffy,
will stand trial later this year on a range of terrorist related
offences connected to a gun attack on police officers in north
49-year-old Colin Duffy, from Forest Glade in Lurgan,
is accused of directing terrorism and belonging to a banned
His co-accused, 55-year-old Alex McCrory of Sliabh Dubh View
In addition, McCrory and a third man, 48-year-old
Henry Fitzsimmons of no fixed abode, are charged with attempting
to murder police officers and possessing ammunition.
The charges are linked to a gun attack on a police patrol
No-one was injured, but at least ten shots struck the vehicles.
The court was told the three accused were secretly recorded
the day after the shooting in a park in Lurgan.
The court also heard that more covert recordings were made of Duffy
They were released on continuing bail.
The trial is expected to begin later this year and will last
A mother refused bereavement allowance because she wasn't married
to her partner who died is to take her case to the Supreme Court. She
is from County Antrim and says she is the victim of discrimination. The
Court of Appeal in Belfast has refused to allow her to take her
case. She said she could petition it directly in London.
We catch up with the local man he was off to London to take up a big
job in the world of music. Belfast City Council wants more
people to live in the city to try to bring the population up
to pre-Troubles levels. They aim to have another
66,000 residents BBC Newsline's Mark
Simpson has more. 50 years ago, Belfast had a lot more
people. They weren't just working shopping in the city, we lived in
Belfast. Around 100,000 more people than live here now. The council is
trying to get people back and it's got a number in mind, an extra
66,000 by the year 2035. It looks ambitious but the council is
confident of reaching its target. That takes Belfast back to where it
was in terms of scale and when you look at other capital cities within
the UK and beyond, there is a general urbanisation and gravitation
towards the city. That is based on its role as an economic driver and
when Belfast succeeds, we would suggest other parts of Northern
Ireland succeed as well. Although there is no detail yet about the
plan, the initial reaction has been positive. Blind we could have been
doing this why this place has been blown apart 2030 years ago. We have
a lot of catching up to do. We lost four decades in this city. I think
it would be welcome, things are changing in the city over the last
few decades and this is an opportunity to link it with the
Belfast agenda and make sure community voices are heard and
people's voices are heard in the future. More houses could mean an
end to some of the wasteland around the city and there is plenty of
that. Questions remain about who is going to paper at all and whether
the infrastructure in Belfast could actually cope with a bigger city.
That is all still to be worked out. A public consultation will begin
soon. With power-sharing at Stormont in jeopardy, Belfast City Council
could soon be the largest elected body in Northern Ireland. It has a
lot of work to do and its role could soon be even more important.
Fruit and veg, bus fares and beer are all getting more expensive -
Some economists are predicating that inflation could hit 4%
Part of the reason is the weakening of the pound, which makes our
Here's our economics and business Editor John Campbell.
Every week, this wholesaler imports at least 20 lorry loads of produce
from mainland Europe. The pay their Spanish, French and Italian
suppliers in euros. Since the Brexit vote, the pound has weakened
substantially against the euro so for a business like this, the costs
automatically increase. It has increased by 15%. We are having to
absorb some of that cost, we have two pass on the cost to our
customers. Bad weather in the key growing areas across Europe has also
pushed up the price of fruit and veg. That is adding even more
inflationary pressure. It is not just the price of food which is
going up. The cost of... Has more than doubled from its record lows
over the last year. That trend of rising prices is likely to continue
to rate this year. The official stats shoe we have enjoyed very low
inflation recently. In 2011, inflation was running at more than
5%. It then headed on a long downward path. It was effectively
zero for all of 2015 and not much higher for most of last year. It is
now heading up. It is currently at 1.6% and could be above 3% by the
end of the year. That will hit living standards. Motor insurance
has risen by 10% year-on-year at the end of last month. Domestic heating
oil is up by 35% over the last year. The more consumers have to spend on
these goods, the less money they are going to have for other things. What
we are going to see is a squeeze on your disposable incomes. The biggest
problem will be for those on low fixed incomes, such as benefit
claimants. That's because of a policy put in place by the last
Chancellor. Worked age benefits for the next year. If you take on
jobseeker's allowance, they got ?73 this year and they will continue to
get that same amount of money up until 2020 and then that person has
to cope with daily living expenses, keeping a roof over their head, food
on the table, that is why year on year they are going to be
effectively worse off. Some of the recent rises in fruit and veg prices
could be reversed as the weather improves. But make no mistake,
across the economy, prices are heading up.
One of the biggest jobs in British music is being taken up by the man
who's been in charge of opera here for the past six years.
Oliver Mears is leaving Nortnern Ireland Opera
the youngest ever director of London's Royal Opera House.
Our arts correspondent Robbie Meredith caught up with him
Final rehearsals for Northern Ireland Opera's new show
Powder Her Face at Belfast's Lyric Theatre.
But also the last act for their director Oliver Mears.
Fittingly, for a man who once put an opera singer among fans
at Cliftonville football ground, he's leaving Northern Ireland
for the music world's equivalent of Manchester United -
the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
We start with the staff of two, over the years we've gone up to five.
It's a small staff and the scale was considerably bigger. The entire work
for it is just over 1000 people and not all of those people work for the
opera, some of them work pretty badly as well. A huge technical
department, the chorus, the orchestra, it is a huge jump in
scale. He came here as the first
head of Northern Ireland And in that time he's
tried to rid the art By taking work to places like
Belfast zoo and to places like football grounds, it makes it clear
that Opera can happen anywhere and can appeal to any kind of audience.
Powder Her Face is an opera all about an aristocrat
A fitting finale, as Oliver will face much more
The principles are the same. It's about communicating, passion for
this great artform and it's about conveying this idea that Opera is
for everyone, it doesn't matter if it's small or big scale.
It's his final curtain here, but Oliver Mears is set
The Belfast boxer Carl Frampton says he's expecting between four and five
thousand of his fans to be Las Vegas for his defence of the WBA title.
He meets Leo Santa Cruz this weekend.
Following their initial encounter last summer Frampton
was named the prestigious Ring Magazine's Fighter of The Year.
Head lining here on the world-famous Las Vegas strip is reserved for the
biggest names in boxing and following his historic victory over
Leo Santa Cruz in July, Karel Frampton joined that elite band of
fighters. Over the next 48 hours, thousands of fanatical fans will
arrive here in Nevada for what could prove to be a career defining night
not just for the Belfast boxer but also for his Mexican opponent. Leo
Santa Cruz lost his undefeated record and world title in the
previous contest, but the Irish boxer maintains he learned more from
their bite and his ability to adapt his tactics, the result this round
will be exactly the same. If I can beat Leo Santa Cruz, that's even
more impressive if I can do it in style. I can't wait to get going.
How much of a bearing will the first might have on this one's it how will
have an effect psychologically, I will have the edge. When I fight
different opponents the second time I always improve. I believe I'm
better at boxing them Leo Santa Cruz and I want to use that on the night.
We will have all the big fight build-up on tomorrow's programme as
the countdown continues to Frampton against Leo Santa Cruz part two, you
can listen live on radio Ulster and BBC radio five live.
Strong wind in places today. It was also pretty choppy in Ireland as
well, big winds as well along parts of the east coast. Very cold gusty
wind will still be strong in places tonight, especially towards the east
coast, keeping the frost away but still feeling cold. Generally try
tonight, mostly the rain will stay in Donegal tonight. It is going to
come eastwards through the course of tomorrow. When the rain arrives, the
wind will drop out and overall it won't feel just as cold. First
thing, it can could still be breezy and not as windy as it was this
morning. Some damp weather across parts of Tyrone and up to the
north-west. Splashes of rain will come eastwards. You should get into
work or school dry if you live in Belfast, County Antrim are County
Down. The rain will move steadily eastwards as the morning early
afternoon goes on. Expect if you hours of wet weather tomorrow. The
wind drops out and temperatures will be higher than today. Overall, it
will feel less cold than it did today and it will dry up across
parts of the west before the day is finished. Tomorrow night, that rain
clears away from the east coast. One hour to share is close to the east
coast and the few showers in the west. Temperatures dropped to around
freezing so one hour to icy patches. The weekend is trite bright and
breezy on Saturday, a future risen the north-west. A bit of hail mixed
in. On Sunday, it looks like it will start dry and chilly, some sunshine.
Perhaps some rain from the site later in the day. Hopefully it will
stay to the south. If you would like to comment on our
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