Newspaper review: 'Tiocfaidh Arlene' and Belfast clasico

By Iain McDowell

Image source, News Letter

It was a case of "Tiocfaidh Ar Lene" after the leader of the DUP extended her hand to Irish speakers with a "thank you" in the language.

The Daily Mirror's play on the Irish phrase meaning "our day will come" certainly is a striking one.

And the significance of Arlene Foster's visit to a Catholic grammar school in County Down on Wednesday isn't missed by other newspapers.

Both the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter report that her move stands in stark contrast to plans that Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill has in mind for this weekend.

Image source, Belfast Telegraph

The party's Stormont leader is due to speak at a 30th anniversary commemoration for eight IRA men killed by the SAS in Loughgall, County Armagh.

But that will do nothing to build bridges between unionists and nationalists, Methodist minister David Clements - the son of a murdered RUC officer - tells the Belfast Telegraph.

And the paper's columnist Ruth Dudley Edwards says Mrs O'Neill lost "game, set and match" to her DUP counterpart on Wednesday.

The criticism of Mrs O'Neill's planned IRA tribute doesn't end there.

Media caption,
DUP leader Arlene Foster says thank you in Irish during visit to school

The News Letter's editorial claims Sinn Féin's "staggering hypocrisy... between the way it behaves and the conduct it demands of others seems to grow by the week".

And the paper reports that reconciliation campaigner Trevor Ringland says Mrs O'Neill is "living in the past", with the onus now on Sinn Féin to return Mrs Foster's gesture.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Foster says of her visit to Our Lady's Grammar School in Newry: "The pupils presented me with a lovely painting.

"Set against a background of two young ladies, it said in Irish and English: 'Together we are strong.'"

Is there a case for hanging that artwork up in Stormont's Great Hall to inspire those politicians sitting around the negotiating table?

Fire's still burning

It was the flaming issue that led to Stormont's collapse, but little's been heard of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme and its catastrophic projected overspend recently.

Now it's back on the agenda, as the inquiry into the scandal begins on Thursday.

The News Letter's political editor Sam McBride reports that the team investigating the scheme is warning anyone with relevant evidence "should not delete, destroy or dispose" of it.

He adds that the inquiry is to issue formal summonses to attend hearing and hand over evidence.

Those who fail to comply with the notices face a potential £1,000 fine or six months in the slammer.

Million-dollar man

As BBC News NI's economics editor noted on Twitter on Tuesday...

Image source, Twitter

Yes, the Aussie actor and singer set pulses racing not only in the newsroom, when he visited for an interview, but also at the Belfast's Grand Opera House, where he's performing in Million Dollar Quartet.

And the Irish News sent Anne Hailes along to review the musical, in which Donovan plays Sun records founder Sam Philips in 1956, overseeing an impromptu jam session where "spirits soar and music is made".

Jason will be pleased to know the show was music to Anne's ears, and she reports in Thursday's paper that she was left tapping her toe to renditions of Blue Suede Shoes, Great Balls of Fire and Hound Dog.

And in case you missed it, here - especially for you (sorry!) - is Jason's interview on Wednesday's Evening Extra (from 1:19:25).

Image source, Press Eye

A Belfast clasico

A thrilling climax is virtually guaranteed on Saturday with the final round of games in the Irish Premiership season.

Linfield have one hand on the Gibson Cup after staging a remarkable fightback in recent weeks to overhaul Crusaders' lead with a relentless run of wins.

But before they can hold it aloft, they must avoid defeat to Belfast rivals Cliftonville in what promises to be a hostile atmosphere at Solitude.

The game has all the makings of a Belfast version of Spain's el clasico games between Real Madrid and Barcelona, according to journalist and Cliftonville supporter Henry McDonald, writing in the Belfast Telegraph.

In the same way that Real are viewed by Barca fans as an establishment club, McDonald says Reds fans view Linfield in the same light as it enjoys "wealth, privilege and advantage because their ground is also the national stadium".

And even though he acknowledges that the odds are against his side, he says "pride and dignity" should be on their minds as they aim to scupper the Blues' big day.