Northern Ireland

Newspaper headlines: Imminent assembly election dominates papers

News Letter front page Monday 16 January Image copyright News Letter

The likelihood that Northern Ireland will soon be going to the polls for another assembly election dominates the front pages on Monday morning.

The Belfast Telegraph's headline is "Polls apart", with pictures of Arlene Foster addressing a DUP meeting in a County Fermanagh Orange hall and Sinn Féin's Máirtín Ó Muilleoir speaking to party members in west Belfast's Felons Club.

The paper says Secretary of State James Brokenshire is expected to announce the election later on Monday. Inside, the paper's former editor Edmund Curran questions how much Mrs Foster really knew about the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme that has sparked the crisis.

Both the Irish News and the News Letter say the Stormont institutions will collapse as Sinn Féin has confirmed it will not nominate a replacement for Martin McGuiness as deputy first minister.

The News Letter says an election could take place as soon as six weeks' time. A final piece of business for Stormont, it says, will be Economy Minister Simon Hamilton's plan to mitigate the cost of the RHI scheme.

The Irish News reports that Mr Brokenshire says he is not contemplating any alternatives to devolution. It says that the earliest date for an election is five weeks' time, followed by up to three weeks of negotiations to form a new executive.

Both papers also discuss what possible implications the assembly's collapse could have in regards to Brexit.

The Daily Mirror also focuses on the looming election announcement, saying the parties are in "poll positions".

It says in an indication of how potentially acrimonious an election could be, Sinn Féin has accused Communities Minister Paul Givan of "trying to buy votes" with his community halls grant scheme.

Couple threatened

In other news, both the Belfast Telegraph and The Irish News report that a son of a couple shot in the legs in west Belfast's Turf Lodge estate last week has been threatened.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The papers report on the discovery of a bomb in west Belfast at the weekend

The couple, who are in their 50s, were shot in their home while trying to protect their son from an armed gang.

The 25th anniversary of the Teebane atrocity is marked in the Belfast Telegraph, News Letter and Irish News.

Jan Crawford, whose husband was injured in the IRA attack, is quoted in the News Letter, saying it is "deeply disappointing that the families affected still have no answers".

A foiled bomb attack in Belfast at the weekend is covered in all four of the papers, with several featuring the picture of a prone bomb disposal expert examining the device.

Image copyright PSNI

In a lighter note, the Daily Mirror reports on a wanted poster for BBC NI's own Barra Best posted on the PSNI's Craigavon Facebook page.

The PSNI post said that: "Whilst initially we thought that, as with most things, the lack of snow [last week] would be blamed on us, in the last 24 hours we have had new information."

The reward for tracking down the weatherman? Two doughnuts.

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