Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Power station job fears and stadium threat

Front page of the News Letter on Friday Image copyright News Letter
Image caption Front page of the News Letter on Friday

The future of Kilroot power station in County Antrim is generating a lot of energy on the front pages, with the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter both putting the story in the spotlight.

The power station near Carrickfergus is facing closure within months with the loss of up to 240 jobs. A further 30 jobs are under threat at Ballylumford power station and it will shut down one of its main generation units on 31 December.

Kilroot's owner, AES, has said that without a new contract the power station cannot cover its costs.

The News Letter reports that the catalyst for the decision has been the fact that Kilroot, which has been in operation since 1981, and part of Ballylumford, lost out in the first auction of the new all-island market.

It says the development raises major questions about the security of Northern Ireland's electricity supply "potentially removing 36% of 'dispatchable capacity', power which can be turned on or off by grid operators, by the end of the year.

AES UK & Ireland President Ian Luney is quoted in the Belfast Telegraph as saying it "was working to address the uncertainty" at Kilroot and was beginning "a full-statutory consultation process".

"In parallel, we are working to minimise the substantial impact for our suppliers, offtakers and other key stakeholders."

The Irish News reports that there are fears the Casement Park redevelopment in west Belfast could be hit as a result of the Stormont stalemate.

Image caption The Casement Park redevelopment in west Belfast has cost £9.2m, before any construction work has started

Government officials say the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has written to them saying the proposed 34,000 stadium cannot be built without additional funding.

Civil servants have said they are unable to supply any extra money in the absence of ministers.

The redevelopment has cost £9.2m, before any construction work has started.

The paper also reports that despite dissident republican paramilitary group, Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) declaring a ceasefire earlier this week, two other hardline republican groups have no intention of laying down their arms.

It said sources close to the group known as the 'IRA', sometimes referred to as the New IRA, insisted it had no plans to end its campaign.

The Continuity IRA (CIRA) also said it would "continue to carry out attacks on members of the security forces as and when they see fit".

Hospital waiting times also hit the headlines in the newspapers, with the News Letter saying 2,372 people were forced to wait over 12 hours at emergency departments in Northern Ireland last month.

It says this is treble the number of patients (856) who had to wait for this period at emergency departments in December 2016.

Image caption A candlelit vigil was held on Thursday evening in Aughnacloy

The Belfast Telegraph devotes two pages to reaction to the attempted murder of pensioner Pat Davidson in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.

Cody Morrison, 21, recalls finding the 83-year-old on Tuesday night under a window at her home.

"She was very shaken, I went round to her and found her, she was very afraid," she said. "The community has been very upset by what's happened."

Claire O'Boyle reports from a vigil held in Aughnacloy on Thursday evening and relays the anger at what has happened.

She says police have already linked Tuesday night's incident to three others.

"We need to see the police on the streets and we need the criminals to see them too," Lorraine Allen, who was at the vigil, tells her. "At the minute, it is lawless, they have the run of the place."

The Daily Mirror's front page reports on a County Down teenager who was given two years probation and 100 hours community service after admitting having more than 800 child abuse images and a "paedophile manual".

It says Owen Mounsey, 18, tricked schoolboys into sending pictures of themselves by promising them computer game credits.

He was arrested when police officers raided his Holywood home in 2016.

Elsewhere, it reports that plans for a £20m four-star resort in Portstewart, County Londonderry, have been given the green light by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

The Merrow Hotel and Spa plans to provide 118 rooms and will become the home of the North West 200 motorcycling event with its offices situated within the complex's grounds.