Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Court order up in smoke, ban watered down

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

Some of Wednesday's front pages have been somewhat overshadowed by overnight developments.

The Irish News leads with concern over a "monster bonfire" that has since gone up in smoke prematurely, while the News Letter has a splash on the hosepipe ban just as rain returns to Belfast.

The Daily Mirror and the Belfast Telegraph, however, carry separate leads on two murders, 22 years apart.

The Mirror says a Banbridge murder victim may have died several days ago.

'Forgotten victim'

He was found dead at a flat in Millmount Court in the town on Monday afternoon but there are concerns his body may have lain undiscovered for some time.

Image caption Forensic investigators examined the scene of the murder in Banbridge

Detectives investigating the murder have arrested a 28-year-old man.

In London, one of the "forgotten victims" of the Troubles has died after both he and his family endured a prolonged period of suffering, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Zaoui Berezag was working as a cleaner in a bank when he was caught up in the IRA bomb attack on London's Docklands area in 1996.

He was left with severe brain damage and needed 24-hour care from his family, the strain of which reportedly led to his wife taking her own life two years ago.

Mr Berezag died aged 77 in a care home earlier this week.

His daughter, Rajaa Berezag, tells the paper he "never got justice" for the IRA atrocity which resulted in her family serving "a life sentence".

Image caption Hundreds of people were injured by flying glass in the aftermath of the 1996 explosion

A photo of a young man standing on the top of a towering bonfire in east Belfast takes up most of the front page of the Irish News.

On Tuesday night, the High Court ordered that the pyre, stacked with about 75 rows of wooden pallets, must be reduced to a height of just over 10ft (3m).

The court order was secured by Belfast City Council, which took action against the landowner, which happens to be Stormont's Department for Infrastructure.

However, after the paper went to press, police were attacked as they moved in to secure the site to allow contractors to remove material and the bonfire was lit prematurely.

Image caption The bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast before it was torched

In Londonderry, there was another night of disorder, even as Catholic and Protestant bishop toured the area to show support for residents whose lives are being made a misery by nightly violence.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that a youth set himself on fire while trying to torch a hijacked van in the city's Bogside.

The paper says his tracksuit bottom caught fire as he attempted to set a Housing Executive van on fire "using a petrol can and lit petrol bomb".

The News Letter says that more than 100 petrol bombs have been thrown into the city's Fountain estate over the past few nights.

It says the residents of the "mainly Protestant enclave" remain defiant in the face of nightly attacks on their homes.

The paper also reports a suspected sectarian arson attack on an elderly woman's car in Crossgar, County Down.

The 66-year-old says she believes she was targeted because she as flying two flags, a union flag and one depicting William III, or King Billy.

The Belfast Telegraph also has a tale of woe for elderly drivers.

'Past our use-by date'

Alison Kelso, 76, from New Zealand, travelled to Northern Ireland with her 85-year-old husband Terry, to trace his family roots.

The couple's plans were dashed when they were told they were "too old to be insured" to drive while on holiday.

"We drive our cars every day at home," Alison tells the paper. "It was awful to be told we were past our use-by date and we weren't allowed to drive here."

However, she added that after their story was aired on the BBC's Nolan Show, they have been inundated with offers of lifts.

The paper says the couple have been "astounded by the generosity of the people of Northern Ireland" and have made new friends they would never had met had they had their own car.

'Hosepipe loopholes'

With rain pelting off the roof of the BBC newsroom for the first time in several weeks, it seems strange to be writing about the hosepipe ban which was imposed by NI Water 10 days ago.

Image caption The News Letter claims NI's hosepipe ban is not legally enforceable

However, according to the News Letter, the ban never really held water in the first place and the company is "threatening criminal records for non-existent offences".

The paper says loopholes in hosepipe ban legislation were closed in Great Britain but the legislation has not been updated in Northern Ireland.

It appears the local ban only prohibits watering a garden and washing a private car, but not cleaning patios or, for NI Water's niche clientele, filling a swimming pool.

But before you start turning on the taps, the paper says NI Water is refusing to admit it has gone beyond its powers and is "content that it has satisfied the clear terms of the legislation".