Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: House of horrors, White House 'snub'

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

Poignant photos of the aftermath of a fatal house fire that wiped out a family of four in Fermanagh feature prominently in Tuesday's papers

A mother, her two teenage children and her infant granddaughter were killed in the blaze outside Derrylin last month.

The child's ash-covered doll stares out from the front page of the Irish News - just one of the family's possessions still strewn around the burnt-out home.

The Daily Mirror describes the scene as a "house of horrors".

Image copyright Mal McCann
Image caption Firefighters at the scene of the blaze outside Derrylin last month

The family's landlord, Tommy Fee, tells the Belfast Telegraph: "It's heartbreaking to see the child's books and toys."

He explained the family's belongings were removed from the building during the murder investigation.

"They were put outside by forensics and I'm not even sure if we will be allowed to move them."

The local MP, Michelle Gildernew, tells the Irish News she would like to see the site "dealt with in a sensitive manner".

The News Letter leads with criticism of Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley for "dithering" over calls to cut MLAs' pay.


Ms Bradley announced on Monday that she was "minded" to impose a 27.5% salary cut to reflect the fact that the assembly has not been functioning for more than a year.

Image caption Karen Bradley was speaking in the Commons on Monday

However, she called for "full and final representations" from the parties themselves before making the decision.

North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon fumed it was "morally indefensible" to continue to pay full salaries who are not sitting in the assembly.

The fall-out of Stormont's collapse is also having an impact across the pond, as politicians prepare for the annual St Patrick's Day exodus to Washington DC.

There is much speculation over the White House guestlist, with the Irish News claiming that the current leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin have been "snubbed" and "sidelined" over the failure to restore devolution.

The paper features a cartoon suggesting the White House is a "cold house" for Arlene Foster and Mary Lou McDonald, depicting both women outside the railings of Donald Trump's home.

However, both parties point out they will have several senior representatives in Washington in the run up to 17 March.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Leo Varadkar poses for pictures at the Choctaw tribal council

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar is already in the US for his first St Patrick's Day tour as taoiseach (Irish prime minister).

He visited members of the Choctaw tribe in Oklahoma, to thank them for sending money to Ireland during the Great Famine, even though they were living in poverty themselves.

A man wrongly accused on social media of "hanging" his pet dog has bitten back in the Belfast Telegraph.

Andre Perrott, who is originally from France, was visited by police after a young girl posted a video on Facebook, which purported to show his dog hanging from a frame in north Belfast.

The PSNI appealed for information about the video, but later confirmed that no crime had been committed and that the dog was actually playing with toy.

Mr Perrott tells the paper he is owed an apology, saying: "The police should have done their job and investigated a possible crime before posting it on Facebook."

Image copyright Andre
Image caption Buster's owner said he contacted the police because he has nothing to hide

A dispute over the Irish language scuppered attempts to restore Stormont last month and now a new row has resurfaced in Queen's University.

The News Letter and others report that the university has rejected a call to reinstate bilingual signs in English and Irish around the campus, which were removed in 1997.

Its acting vice-chancellor said the university wanted to preserve its "neutral" environment, but the response has "greatly angered" QUB''s Irish language society, An Cumann Gaelach.

Right of way

Signs are also causing tension around Northern Ireland's top tourist attraction - the Giant's Causeway - in the Belfast Telegraph.

The National Trust, which operates a visitors' centre at the UNESCO World Heritage site, is accused of erecting signs on a public path telling visitors they are accessing the route with its "permission".

Local councillors complain the signs are "misleading" as the trust has no right to claim ownership of a public right of way.

The trust responded that it would continue to work with the council to resolve the issue, but added that it has a "responsibility to conserve and protect the site" for the public.

Image copyright Signature Living
Image caption Developers Signature Living say the Floral Hall could be an entertainment or conference venue.

Finally, there are green shoots in a bid to breath life back into a lost gem in Belfast's social and cultural history - Floral Hall.

The "Ballroom of Romance" closed its doors in the 1970s, but a property developer wants to restore the site into a conference and wedding venue.

The Belfast Telegraph's editorial points out that in its heyday, the venue one hosted "superstars like Pink Floyd".

It added: "Many will be glad if the Floral Hall will one day bloom again as an attraction."