Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Benefits battle, Brexit cakes and big hair

Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror
News Letter Image copyright News Letter

Wednesday's papers report on a benefits battle, a Brexit breakthrough, and a hairy time for police in Northern Ireland.

A man who suffered lifelong problems after he was shot in the head at the age of 15 tells the Daily Mirror he has been refused a new disability benefit.

Stephen Robinson lost part of his skull after he was shot while walking home from school during the Troubles.

Now 60, he says he has experienced years of anxiety and depression.

Mr Robinson had been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but tells the paper he has been turned down for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit which is replacing DLA.

The Department of Communities, which oversees the benefits system in Northern Ireland, says it is "very mindful of the impact of the Troubles on victims and survivors".

"If a person disagrees with the decision they can ask for it to be reviewed and provide any additional information," its statement adds.

'Veiled threat'

The Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter both lead with DUP reaction to reports that the government has finally reached a Brexit deal with the European Union.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Arlene Foster has warned the PM the deal could be unacceptable to the DUP

Details of the agreement are yet to be revealed but the News Letter says DUP leader Arlene Foster "issued a thinly veiled threat" to Prime Minister Theresa May in anticipation of what it might mean for Northern Ireland.

"An agreement which places new trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain will fundamentally undermine the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.

"That is not acceptable," Mrs Foster said.

The Belfast Telegraph says the DUP is set to reject Mrs May's deal because it would "handcuff" the UK to the EU and place Northern Ireland in a "different regulatory regime" from Great Britain.

Gravy train

The PM faces a tough task on Wednesday as she attempts to convince both the DUP and her own party colleagues to support the deal.

Brexiteers have long criticised the EU "gravy train" while EU negotiators warned them they can't have their cake and eat it when it comes to access to the single market.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The firm behind Mr Kipling cakes is stockpiling supplies ahead of Brexit

One UK food firm is not convinced Mrs May will win support for her Brexit deal and is taking no chances.

Premier Foods, which produces Mr Kipling cakes as well as Bisto and Oxo products, says it is stockpiling supplies to protect the firm against a no-deal Brexit.

'Devastating loss'

"Brexceeding good cakes," is the Daily Mirror's headline, which says the firm is spending £10m on foodstuffs and packaging as part of its contingency plans.

The Irish News leads with shock at the sudden death of a 28-year-old teacher who worked at a primary school in west Belfast.

It says Fionnuala Kennedy, who had a young son, suffered a fall at her home and died in hospital on Monday.

Her principal tells the paper the school is "devastated" by the loss of such a "caring and considerate young woman".

The Police Service of Northern Ireland's policy on facial hair has resulted in an industrial tribunal, as one policeman challenges his bosses over their beard ban for officers in certain roles.

Image copyright Getty Images

The Belfast Telegraph has been covering the story, and says the ban was introduced last year to protect officers who have to wear breathing masks.

But one expert told the tribunal that an officer would have to have "a moustache like a walrus" to stop the mask working properly.

Richard Gates, who works for a firm that sells safety equipment. claimed it was practically "impossible" for a well-groomed moustache to interfere with the protective mask.