Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Resignation, crocodiles and epic journey

News Letter Image copyright News Letter
Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

The resignation of Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff in the wake his now infamous Kingsmill loaf video takes up several pages of Tuesday's newspapers.

The Belfast Telegraph says he quit after "10 days of public outcry" and questions the Sinn Féin leadership over their handling of the debacle.

It adds there is now "mounting pressure" on Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who retweeted Mr McElduff's video.

Other papers focus their attention on the fight for Mr McElduff's seat.

'Hanging by a thread'

The News Letter canvasses opinion on suggestions that a "non-partisan" candidate who would represent Troubles victims should be chosen to contest the West Tyrone by-election.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Barry McElduff posed with a Kingsmill loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmills attack

Omagh bomb victims' campaigner Michael Gallagher said it would be a "big ask" for any such candidate to contest what is viewed as a safe Sinn Féin seat.

However, he adds it could be a "breath of fresh air" and could provide a "champion" for victims in the House of Commons.

Many of the papers agree that a powerful interview given by Alan Black - the sole survivor of the 1976 IRA gun attack at Kingsmills - may have been a deciding factor in Mr McElduff's decision to step down.

But it has come at a personal cost, with Mr Black saying he is "hanging by a thread" after days of reliving the horror of the shootings in the media.

'Final wishes'

The Irish News divides it front page between the Kingsmills fallout and the funeral of the mother of the IRA hunger striker, Bobby Sands.

The paper says Rosaleen Sands was "one of the most famous mothers in the world," having been depicted in scores of films, documentaries and videos.

Bernadette Sands-McKevitt reportedly told the funeral that after her brother's death in 1981, their mother trusted republicans to lay her son to rest, but his final burial wishes were "not followed".

'Incredible talent'

Tuesday's Daily Mirror leads with the sudden death of the lead singer of The Cranberries, Dolores O'Riordan, who was found dead at a London hotel on Monday.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Dolores O'Riordan on stage in Switzerland in 2007

It says Irish President Michael D Higgins led tributes to the 46-year-old star, describing her as a "an incredible talent and lovely soul".

The paper adds that over the years she had faced "well-documented" health problems, including depression, anorexia and bipolar disorder.

Another Irish musician who has faced public struggles with health problems features widely in Tuesday's papers.

Shane MacGowan, lead singer of The Pogues, celebrated his 60th birthday at a star-studded party in Dublin overnight.

Few can boast pop stars, presidents and pirates on their guest list, but Bono, Johnny Depp, Nick Cave and President Higgins all turned up to congratulate MacGowan on reaching the milestone.

Back to politics and the Mirror and others report further delays in releasing the funding promised to Northern Ireland under the DUP's £1bn deal with the Conservatives last June.

The first £50m was to be handed over before Christmas to ease mounting financial problems in local hospitals and schools.

However, despite the winter pressures in emergency departments, more than half (£30m) of the first instalment is still being held by the Treasury.

Crocodile food

The Mirror says the £30m will not be spent in the 2017-18 tax year, according to Stormont's Department of Finance.

Meanwhile, the News Letter claims the Alliance party has had to deny that it is "being eaten by a crocodile" at Belfast City Council.

The phrase was used by commentator Ruth Dudley Edwards, referencing DUP's leader Arlene Foster's "hungry crocodile" remarks over the Irish language last year.

Ms Dudley Edwards pointed out that Alliance councillors have voted 22 times with Sinn Féin against the DUP, and only eight times in the other direction.

However, a party spokesperson insisted that, as illustrated by the Kingsmills controversy, Alliance representatives "call out unionist and nationalist politicians in equal measure".

Image copyright Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/Ben Duffy
Image caption The Portrush-based crew rowed across the Atlantic in 31 days

An epic ocean crossing makes a splash in the News Letter, as the paper reports on the fastest Northern Irishmen to row across the Atlantic.

Four friends based in Portrush, who had "not been in a boat until March" completed the 3,000-mile journey in 31 days.

The told the paper they faced 40 waves and "bizarre hallucinations" due to lack of sleep during the challenge, but "pulled together to overcome all struggles and everything the Atlantic could throw at us".