Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Explosive claims and political pay cuts

front page of the News Letter Friday 7 September 2018 Image copyright News Letter
front page of the Daily Mirror, Friday 7 September 2018 Image copyright Daily Mirror

Explosive claims, political pay cuts and a loyalist resignation all make the headlines on Friday.

Jonathan Bell's appearance in front of the Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) dominates most front pages.

The former DUP minister gave evidence to the body in the Senate Chamber at Stormont on Thursday.

The RHI inquiry was set up to look into the running of the botched heating scheme which hoped to encourage the uptake of eco-friendly heat systems.

But, overgenerous fuel subsidies meant it could cost taxpayers and extra £490m.

On Thursday, Mr Bell made a number of explosive claims.

Image copyright RHI inquiry
Image caption Jonathan Bell appeared before the RHI inquiry for the first time on Thursday

He said a senior figure in the Executive Office was briefing against him as a "monster who had to be put to sleep" - a quote which appears on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Bell also admitted signing a "false" declaration to appoint a DUP colleague to be his SpAd, reports the News Letter.

Meanwhile, Mr Bell also made further claims about the culture within the DUP, which is the main story in the Irish News.

Image caption The RHI scheme was established to encourage uptake of eco-friendly heat systems over the use of fossil fuels

Its headline reads: "Bell tells RHI inquiry he heard explicit details of DUP ministers' sexual misbehaviour".

In response to the claims, the DUP said: "It would not be appropriate to comment on evidence given to the public inquiry, outside of the inquiry process. It is important that the inquiry is allowed to complete its work."

Image caption There has been no devolved government in Northern Ireland since January 2017

Reduced pay

Elsewhere in politics, MLAs' salaries are due to be slashed in two stages beginning in November.

The announcement was made in by the Secretary of State Karen Bradley in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Image caption Secretary of State Karen Bradley was appointed in January 2018

Northern Ireland has been without an executive since January 2017 following a bitter row between the governing parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin.

The pay cut makes the front page of the Daily Mirror, which reads: "At last they're paying the price".

The paper reports that parties across the border have largely welcomed the move, however Margaret McGuickan from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse told the paper: "This is Direct Rule in all but name".

Image caption Dee Stitt pictured with Arlene Foster in 2016

'Negative media attention'

The resignation of a leading UDA member as chief executive of Charter NI features in both the Irish News and News Letter.

Dee Stitt resigned on Thursday, however he will remain with the organisation as a "project manager".

Image caption Charter NI received a £1.7 million grant from the Stormont Executive

He had been under growing pressure to step aside after his paramilitary connections were revealed.

In a statement, Charter NI said "negative media attention has been a great strain on David and his family" and thanked him for his "commitment and dedication through difficult times".

'Tragic accident'

The Daily Mirror also reports on the Coroner's Court findings into the death of Cranberries front woman Dolores O'Riordan.

The singer, who died suddenly on 15 January aged 46, was found submerged in the bath in her room at London's Park Lane Hilton hotel.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, the coroner said O'Riordan died as a result of a "tragic accident".

She had no injuries or evidence of self harm, and had drunk an excessive amount of alcohol, expert witnesses said.

Image copyright McCann family
Image caption Joe McCann was shot in April 1972

Civil writ

The Irish News reports that the family of an Official IRA man who was allegedly shot dead by British soldiers in 1972 are to take legal action against the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Joe McCann died in disputed circumstances near his home in the Markets area of Belfast.

His family are to issue a civil writ against the MoD and the attorney general for alleged unreasonable delays in conducting an effective investigation into his death.

McIroy on the move

Holywood golf star, Rory McIlroy has sold his house in Florida, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

The 10,500 sq ft home was on the market for a total of nine months, with an asking price of $12.9m (£9.9m).

McIlroy and his wife, Erica Stoll, have now moved to another luxury pad in Jupiter, Florida, which was previously owned by South African golfer Ernie Els.