Northern Ireland

NI Paper Review: Brexit border strip and Omagh 'snub'

News Letter Image copyright News Letter
A pair of paintings by loyalist Michael Stone Image copyright Reach Project
Image caption A pair of paintings by loyalist Michael Stone

A leading Orangeman has defended his decision to attend an art exhibition by loyalist paramilitary Michael Stone.

The News Letter reports that Orange Order Grand Secretary Mervyn Gibson said the event was about "moving away from terrorism".

The comments follow on from a BBC News NI story that Stone opened an exhibition of 24 of his paintings while out on unsupervised temporary day release.

He was convicted of killing six people during the Troubles and his 30-year sentence is coming to the end.

Defending his attendance at the art sale Mr Gibson added "I've sat in the same room and been in discussions with Martin McGuinness, so why should I feel uncomfortable with Michael Stone?"

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Image caption The current border between Derry and Donegal like here at Muff could potentially be home to new counter-terrorism powers

The Irish News leads with potential new security powers post Brexit.

The paper says powers are contained in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill making its way through Westminster which could see members of the public stopped and searched within a mile-wide strip of the border.

The paper reports that human rights groups have raised concerns about the plans.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, were killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing

Also, the paper reports that the father of an Omagh bomb victim has criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Secretary of State Karen Bradley for not attending events to mark the 20th anniversary of Real IRA bombing.

The attack in the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998 killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

Events marking 20 years since the bombing are to take place this Sunday and next Wednesday.

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the same story and reports that Kevin Skelton, whose wife died in the attack, said it was a "double snub" that neither the secretary of state nor the taoiseach are attending.

Northern Ireland Office Minister of State Shailesh Vara will represent Mrs Bradley while Fine Gael minister Heather Humphreys will represent the Irish government.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Belfast City Council intend to lobby Stormont to save the bees

Earlier in the week we made reference to the "peas-process" but today it is the turn for the "Bees Process".

The Daily Mirror reports that Belfast City Council passed a motion to to put pressure on Stormont to protect the species following Brexit.

Banning certain pesticides the European Union has "protected" the bee population, and Green Party councillor Georgina Milne is concerned those regulations may be weakened once the UK leaves the EU.

All very noble of course but the sting in this tale is that there is no one at Stormont for Belfast City Council to "put pressure" on.

Image copyright Inpho
Image caption Rory Brennan is brought into the Red Hands team for Sunday's semi-final

For anyone heading to the big match of the weekend, the Irish News warns that they may have to run a "blue and white gauntlet".

Tyrone take on Monaghan at Croke Park on Sunday for an all-Ulster semi-final for the All-Ireland senior football championship.

The main route to Dublin from anyone coming from the west of Tyrone will have to pass through a couple of Monaghan towns.

It's Monaghan's first semi-final since 1988 and some estimate up to half of the county's population will be at Croke Park.

The paper reports that Barry Sherry from the Emyvale club near the border said signs and bunting would line the main street, and he expects the rival fans will engage in some "good-natured banter".

Now there is a euphemism if I ever saw one.