Northern Ireland

NI newspaper headlines: Bradley's 'brief encounter' and arcade revamp plan

Karen Bradley
Image caption Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley features in the newspapers on Friday

Bradley's brief encounter is the front page headline in the Belfast Telegraph on Friday as the newspaper analyses the fall-out from the Northern Ireland Secretary's meeting with the political parties.

It says Karen Bradley has faced fierce criticism following "a whirlwind meeting" on Thursday which was "branded a waste of time".

Mrs Bradley said the 45-minute session was simply a briefing exercise on new legislation, but Alliance leader Naomi Long has called it a "pointless exercise" and Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann said Mrs Bradley was "badly advised to hold it at all".

Sinn Féin said there was no basis for moving forward following the meeting, which was also criticised by the SDLP. The DUP has said the party was under no illusions about the purpose of the briefing.

Most of the front pages have a political flavour, and the Irish News highlights Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab's planned visit to Northern Ireland on Friday, ahead of a crucial few weeks in the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

It says Mr Raab is scheduled to meet with business organisations alongside a number of firms involved in cross-border trade.

'Riding roughshod'

He is later expected to meet the five main political parties.

The paper also highlights Lord Trimble's accusations that the Irish government is "riding roughshod" over the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and these claims feature on the front page of the News Letter.

It says the former UUP leader has suggested that the EU's backstop plan to avoid a hard land border in Ireland would effectively render Northern Ireland "an EU protectorate, without the say-so of the Northern Ireland Assembly".

Lord Trimble added that it would be an "appalling breach of the principle of consent which runs through the (Good Friday) Agreement".

The Irish Foreign Affairs minister, Simon Coveney, has said that if there is to be a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations in November there would need to be "movement" on the British side "in the next week or so".

Cease trading

The front page of the Daily Mirror focuses on a County Antrim woman who has admitted punching another woman 13 times in the head as she lay on the street in Ballyshannon, County Donegal.

Donegal Town Court heard that the attack happened in February last year, following an earlier incident in a pub.

Footage also showed her father kicking the injured party once in the head.

The judge adjourned sentencing until next month.

The Irish News reports that a store in Belfast that suffered £100,000 worth of damage as a result of a fire at Primark's flagship store in Bank Buildings is to cease trading.

The Spinning Wheel curtain and fabric store in Fountain Street went into administration on Wednesday evening.

The company has traded in Belfast city centre for more than four decades, but recently suffered problems due to delayed insurance payments for smoke damaged stock, compounded by a lack of passing trade on Fountain Street, which is cordoned off at Castle Street.

The paper also says Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has defended an allocation of £2m to help regenerate Belfast city centre following the fire in August.

Image caption The Spinning Wheel in Belfast's Fountain Street has closed

The Daily Mirror has highlighted concerns from residents in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, about the escalation of a loyalist paramilitary feud.

It says police have dealt with an increasing number of incidents since the weekend with homes and a business targeted.

Cars have been burnt out and windows smashed, with some residents reporting seeing masked men on the street.

One resident told the Mirror that the community is "furious" about the trouble and called for more protection from the police.

A number of the newspapers including the Mirror and News Letter detail how a PSNI officer has been disciplined after climbing in the window of a County Antrim homeless hostel and spending several hours drinking with residents.

The police ombudsman investigation found the officer, who was off-duty and not in uniform, had a bottle of vodka when he persuaded a resident to let him in through a window during the incident in April 2016.

He later said he was aware of the hostel's no alcohol and no visitors policy and the fact its residents included those who were alcohol dependent.

The investigation also found the officer had accessed a friend's police records without authorisation or a policing purpose in May 2013.

Image copyright BBC/MCE
Image caption There are plans to restore Queen's Arcade in Belfast to its Victorian splendour

Finally, the Belfast Telegraph showcases the city's Queen's Arcade on page three of the paper, after it was announced that a £2m facelift is planned for Belfast's last remaining Victorian shopping arcade.

It was designed and built in the 1880s by James McKinnon on behalf of client George Fisher, and is now owned by Lunn's Jewellers.

Lunn's chairman, Peter Lunn, said the arcade, which runs between Fountain Street and Donegall Place, has a big role to play "in bringing people back into the city centre".

"Our aim is to enhance what already exists and much of our inspiration has been drawn from photography dating back as far as 1885," he added.