Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Belfast bounces back, Santa shooter and lottery win

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

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the news that festive shopper numbers in Belfast were up 40%.

Coming of the back of "a bleak autumn" caused by August's Primark fire in the city centre the Belfast Telegraph tells us that the city has dramatically bounced back.

"Footfall for the week beginning December 24 was up 37.8% on the same period in 2017 according to Belfast City Council," the paper reports.

At the other end of the economic spectrum the Belfast Telegraph also reports on the closure of a family business in Warrenpoint, County Down.

The 73-year-old clothes shop O'Hare's is set to close, its sibling owners are to retire and none of the younger members of the family wanted to take over the shop in the town's square.

'Santa shooter'

The Irish News leads with coverage of the intimidation of a west Belfast family and the destruction of their home.

"Santa shooter caught on CCTV," is the surreal headline accompanied by a still showing a man dressed as Santa Claus recklessly firing a pair of pistols at the house.

The Richmond family's home has been attacked numerous times in the last month.

Image caption George Richmond said the downstairs of his house has been 'destroyed'.

George Richmond is appealing to his those engaged in the violent campaign against his family to give them the space to move out of the Dermott Hill property.

He also questions why no arrests have been made in relation to the attacks.

The Daily Mirror's front page splashes with the County Armagh couple's incredible £155 Euro Millions lottery win.

The couple are to be revealed to the public on Friday.

'Matter of regret'

Its also the lead story in the News Letter and finds a place on the front of all of the Northern Ireland daily papers.

The News Letter's second story is a political one - the former Ulster Unionist leader Reg Empey is warning the SDLP against a merger with Fianna Fáil

Meanwhile former SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie has said that the disappearance of the SDLP name would be "a severe matter of regret".

The News Letter's editorial agrees speculating that the demise of the brand locally would be "worrying" and would "eventually leave nationalists with little alternative but to vote Sinn Féin".

The Irish News also covers the story with Fianna Fáil party sources telling it that the proposed link-up "will not be a takeover".

The paper's political correspondent John Manley writes that it "may just pay off".

He believes that SDLP leader Colum Eastwood's options are in fact "extremely limited" given the decline of his party's vote and because its "coffers are exhausted".

He does however note that the possible loss of south Belfast politician Claire Hanna, who has spoken out against any merger with Fianna Fáil would be a setback for Mr Eastwood.

Staying with politics and writing in the Irish News, columnist Alex Kane tells us he sees no breakthrough on the horizon that would see the return of power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

The issue of legislation for the Irish language divides the parties and Mr Kane sees "no mood" for either side shifting their positions.