NI Paper Review: Paisley's holiday and chasing the rainbow

By Ali Gordon

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image sourceNews Letter

Ian Paisley's failure to declare two luxury trips to Sri Lanka has dominated Thursday's front pages.

The MP faces a 30-day suspension after he failed to declare the details of two family holidays in 2013 paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

The Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and News Letter lead with the story, each with a different, very sombre, solitary image of the North Antrim MP on their front pages.

The Belfast Telegraph quotes Mr Paisley as saying he was "deeply embarrassed" and had "let myself and colleagues down".

The claims first appeared in the Daily Telegraph in September 2017.

The newspaper estimated that the holidays were worth £100,000, a figure that Mr Paisley has disputed.

image sourcePacemaker
image captionIan Paisley succeeded his late father as MP for North Antrim in 2010

The newspapers, as well as the Daily Mirror, discuss the implications of Mr Paisley's actions.

Under legislation introduced in 2016, MPs facing a ban of more than 10 sitting days can lose their seat if 10% of the eligible electorate in their constituency sign a petition.

It is also one of the longest suspensions in almost 70 years and will deprive Prime Minister Theresa May of a crucial vote on key Brexit issues.

media captionBBC News NI looks at the timeline of the same-sex marriage debate in Northern Ireland.

The Irish News reports that Labour MP Conor McGinn believes the LGBT community in Northern Ireland has been let down after an amendment to equal marriage legislation was rejected by Westminster.

Mr McGinn, who is originally from south Armagh, had tabled an amendment to extend the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill to Northern Ireland, but ministers refused to extend its remit.

Mr McGinn said this was an "insult to the LGBT community".

He added: "This was an opportunity for the government to show it wanted to end the discrimination faced every day."

image sourceRte
image captionThe small boat capsized after it left the coastline early on Tuesday morning

The local newspapers all carry the heartbreaking story of a teenager and a man who died after a fishing boat capsized off the coast of County Donegal.

Thomas Weir, 16, and Gerry Doherty, who was in his 60s, died in the tragedy off Malin Head.

A third man, in his 50s, was rescued after being found clinging to a buoy.

Sinn Féin councillor Albert Doherty, a family friend, said: "A rogue wave washed Paddy off a rock and his remains were missing for close on two months. He was found off the Isle of Skye."

'Planned to the last moment'

The Daily Mirror has a poignant interview with Janice Kirk, from Ballyhalbert in County Down.

It was another eight years before Mrs Kirk accepted Heather's version of events, the paper states, but, within a year, her daughter had taken her own life.

"It was planned down to the last moment," said Mrs Kirk.

"Heather just couldn't take any more pain."

image sourceGetty Images

The devastated mother now has two reborn dolls - life-size dolls created to look and feel like real babies - which she carries in a pram and walks around the Ards Peninsula.

She says when people stop and talk to her, she tells them about Heather and that, if they are ever feeling suicidal, she is there to listen.

'A miracle'

The Belfast Telegraph carries a story about two farmers involved in a slurry incident.

Ronnie Hazlett, 79, and his son George, 44, were overcome with fumes at their farm in Claudy, County Londonderry, on 17 June.

George is still in the high dependency unit at Altnagelvin Hospital after waking up from a coma in intensive care last Friday. He is unable to speak.

"My son George saw there were lambs in the shed - he had been working with the slurry tank and he went back in to rescue the lambs because of the fumes and he got caught," said Mr Hazlett.

"I ran to him and put my two hands on his chest and pressed on it twice. He had his mouth open and I gave him two breaths and then I went out. The fumes overtook me too, even outside the shed in the open air."

Mr Hazlett warned of the risks of working with slurry.

"Both me and my son could be dead because of it. It is nothing short of a miracle that we are both alive."

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