Northern Ireland

Paper review: QUB row and 'peeler's peeler' leads Gardaí

News Letter front page Wednesday 27 June Image copyright News Letter

Wednesday brings a very mixed bag in terms of the Northern Ireland front pages, but that's what we like.

The Belfast Telegraph carries news of a row at the Union Theological College at Queen's University.

"QUB reviews Presbyterian college links", reads the headline.

It goes on to say the university is "reviewing the nature of its relationship" with the college, which teaches its degree courses in theology and trains the church's ministers.

Image caption Tension is rising at Queen's University's Theological College

The news comes after the church suspended the college's Professor of Church History, Laurence Kirkpatrick, after he criticised it in the wake of its decision not to allow anyone in a same-sex relationship to be a full member or have their children baptised.

The clerk of the Assembly, Rev Trevor Gribben, subsequently issued a letter to all ministers, warning against bringing the church "into disrepute" by speaking in a public way that may cause "scandal injurious to the purity or peace of the church".

The Telegraph also covers PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris' appointment as the new head of the police in the Republic of Ireland.

"Almost 30 years after his father was killed by an IRA bomb, PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris becomes the first officer from outside the Republic to lead the Garda," it says.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris

In commentary, Ivan Little reviews the career of the "peeler's peeler", an officer who was "not afraid of controversy".

Meanwhile, author and retired RUC superintendant Alan Simpson welcomes the appointment, saying: "In the days when I was a serving police officer, the idea of a former RUC man becoming Garda Commissioner was simply unthinkable, but what seemed impossible has now occurred."

In the Irish News, Allison Morris provides analysis of Mr Harris's appointment, saying he will "need time to prove his critics wrong".

"As someone who has worked in policing for 35 years, he is more than qualified, but his success will depend on winning the support of officers on the ground," she says.

"Despite being a victim himself, his biggest critics have been among the nationalist victims community."

Mr Harris was responsible for dealing with disclosure in relation to inquests into state killings.

Border poll

The paper also quotes Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLauglin, who said on Tuesday evening that the public appetite for a border poll should be tested with a question in the 2021 census.

The former MLA and party chairman was speaking at his inaugural lecture as an honorary professor at Queen's University.

Elsewhere, the Irish News covers a BBC Spotlight story about "dark money channelled through the DUP".

Image caption Richard Cook is a former vice-chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party

An investigation into the man behind the DUP's record £435,000 donation during the EU referendum has uncovered a trail of illegal activity and foreign money.

Richard Cook shipped illegal tyre waste to India in 2009.

He presented fake documents to the authorities and left a shipping company with a bill of more than £1m.

Mr Cook denies involvement in illegal waste.

Ombudsman

The News Letter says two PSNI officers were disciplined after a convicted terrorist "skipped bail and sparked a massive manhunt".

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Damien McLauglin's trial for the murder of David Black collapsed last week

Damien McLaughlin, whose trial in connection with the murder of prison officer David Black collapsed last week, absconded in November 2016.

The police ombudsman carried out an investigation into the incident and determined that "bail conditions were not effectively monitored and enforced".

Further into the paper, an interview with Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald, by political editor Sam McBride, is covered in a two-page spread.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks to the News Letter's Sam McBride

"There's no army council pulling my strings, says new SF leader," is the headline.

"In many ways, Mary Lou McDonald seems to be a break with Sinn Féin's past - female, middle class, and with no background in the IRA," says Sam McBride.

He then asks: "Does the switch from a leadership which was at one point also the leadership of the IRA to one which was never involved in terrorism extend to putting greater distance between the party and the violence of the past?"

For her part, Ms McDonald insists that Sinn Féin "has always been an independent political party - Sinn Féin is not the IRA, Sinn Féin is an independent structure".

'Insult'

Staying with news of the Sinn Féin president, the Mirror leads with the headline "We don't want you Mary Lou".

It says the Orange Order won't be inviting Ms McDonald to the Twelfth parades next month because the organisation believes it would be "an insult to dead Orangemen".

"The Orange Order's defiance came after Mary Lou McDonald revealed she was open to attending the annual July 12 parades," it says.

It quotes an Order spokesman, who said: "Such an invitation would insult the memory of our murdered members and bring further hurt and distress to many families."