Northern Ireland

NI Paper Review: Politics, 'gun law' and road works

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

Its back to porridge and back to politics in the Northern Ireland daily papers.

"No Stormont, No Benefits," is the headline in the Daily Mirror.

A Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) study has reported that about 33,000 benefit claimants could experience difficulties if mitigation measures intended to limit the impact of welfare changes are not renewed.

But that would require ministerial approval and, with Stormont not sitting, that cannot happen.

According to Sandra Moore, chief executive of homeless charity the Welcome Organisation, the NIHE are facing a "black hole".

Rumours of a potential merger between the SDLP and Republic of Ireland opposition party Fianna Fáil is the front page story in the News Letter.

Image caption Mairia Cahill has cast doubts over a potiential SDLP / Fianna Fáil "merger"

SDLP councillor, and former Irish senator, Máiría Cahill, told the paper that reports the two parties were to embark on an alliance looks "like a merger".

"I was an Irish Labour Senator and I will remain an Irish Labour member," she said.

The Irish Labour Party has promised to "step in" if the alliance goes ahead, the News Letter reports.

Writing in the Irish News, former SDLP councillor turned commentator, Brian Feeney, criticised the "merger".

'Fat man and a pie'

He writes that it will not work saying it is a "takeover".

He claims the SDLP is "moribund" and the alliance is simply an opportunity for its members to continue in politics.

For Fianna Fáil, it is a necessary step to facilitate taking on Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, he writes.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph Eilis O'Hanlon compares the mooted merger to a fat man eating a pie, suggesting that that Fianna Fáil's size will mean that it will dominate any potential relationship.

The Irish News, meanwhile, leads with a gun attack on a house in west Belfast.

Image caption Shots were fired at Georgina Richmond's home on Tuesday morning

The home of Georgina Richmond, who reached the final stages of Irish national broadcaster RTÉ's Voice of Ireland in 2016, was attacked on Tuesday.

It came just hours after a gang attacked her parent's home in the Dermott Hill area.

Shots

A gunman fired 12 shots at the house in December.

The lead story in the Belfast Telegraph, meanwhile, is very down to earth.

The paper reveals there is a road in east Belfast that is dug up on average every three days, more than any other road in Northern Ireland.

A total of 544 road works were recorded between 2014 and 2018 on the Upper Newtownards Road in Belfast, the paper reports.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Red squirrels are under threat from larger grey squirrels

In some happy news, the Irish News tells us that the red squirrel is standing firm in one of its final redoubts.

The Ards peninsula in County Down is the site of the rodents' stand, having been pushed out of most of Ireland by its more successful cousin - the grey squirrel.

Volunteers estimate there may be as many as 45 of the animals on the Mount Stewart, up from about 10 in 2015.

'Cheers and Jeers'

Staying in the countryside and the Belfast Telegraph covers reaction in Crawfordsburn, County Down, to huntsmen and women riding through the town.

About 100 protestors had gathered to voice their feelings against the hunt but there were also cheers for the crimson-jacketed riders.