Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Dissident violence and no deal warning

Car on fire in Londonderry Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The vehicle on fire after an explosion oustide Londonderry courthouse

Dissident republican violence and, of course, Brexit dominate the front pages of Northern Ireland's papers on Tuesday.

"Republican dissidents plotting more attacks" is the stark headline on the front of the News Letter.

The warning comes from former PSNI assistant chief constable Alan McQuillan.

He says that dissidents are desperate to connect their violence to major historic anniversaries.

It follows a bomb outside a court in Londonderry at the weekend and further alerts and hijackings in the city on Monday - the centenary of the first Dáil and the start of the Irish War of Independence.

"They always use reference points like that in an attempt to try and wind things up, because they're desperate to try and find any sort of reference from the past," Mr McQuillan tells the News Letter.

'We will not live in fear'

On the front page of the Daily Mirror, the Mayor of Derry John Boyle says the city "will not live in fear".

Writing in the paper, Mr Boyle says: "We are strong and we stand opposed to violence. We will not nurture hatred and we will not live in fear."

Mr Boyle said the people of Derry had said "time and time again they will not be held to ransom or dragged back by a minority".

He said the city's great resilience had seen it through very challenging times.

Brexit leads on the front of the Belfast Telegraph, with a warning from CBI Northern Ireland director Angela McGowan that a no-deal Brexit could cost Northern Ireland £5bn a year by 2034.

A CBI study published on Tuesday warns that Northern Ireland would be among the the parts of the UK most exposed to the fallout of a no-deal.

"The projected impact on our economy would be devastating and, while business will do all it can to reduce the worst aspects, a no-deal scenario is unimaginable," Ms McGowan tells the paper.

She says that manufacturing and the agri-food industry would be particularly hard hit in Northern Ireland.

However, TUV leader Jim Allister is not convinced by the CBI study, telling the Telegraph that the group "has cried wolf so often" that its warnings carry no credence.

Staying with Brexit, The Irish News says that leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg is going ahead with plans to appear at a DUP fundraiser in Ballymena next week.

That is despite opposition from Northern Ireland Conservatives, who are unhappy about his attendance at an event for a rival party.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Jacob Rees-Mogg is to speak at a DUP fundraiser in Ballymena

Former NI Conservative Roger Lomas tells the paper he understands that Mr Rees-Mogg has built up a personal relationship with DUP members at Westminster, but says he has yet to accept an invitation to meet with local Conservatives.

"Indeed, with senior colleagues like this, one doesn't really need political opponents," he says.

In its coverage of the dissident attacks, the Belfast Telegraph's Ciaran Barnes says that the New IRA's leader in Derry is a former Provisional IRA member who went on to form Republican Action Against Drugs.

He says the group's arsenal of guns were destroyed in a fire in Belfast in December, but it retains bomb-making capabilities.

Meanwhile, the paper says that while the Northern Ireland Executive may have collapsed two years ago, its home, Stormont, still costs £3,600 per day for rates and utility bills.

The figures include around £285,000 in electricity bills in the last two years, £129,000 for heating and just under £56,000 in phone bills.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Northern Ireland has the lowest proportion of lesbian, gay or bisexual people in the UK, according to government statistics

Over in the the News Letter, it reports that Northern Ireland has the lowest proportion of lesbian, gay or bisexual people in the UK.

Government statistics show that while the UK percentage of LGB people rose from 1.5% to 2% of the population in 2017, the figure in Northern Ireland was 1.2%.

Submarine near miss

The Irish News says there was a near-miss between a nuclear-powered submarine and a Belfast-to-Cairnryan car ferry in November.

It says the incident was previously unreported, but is being investigated by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).

"In November, we were notified of a close-quarters incident between the roll-off/roll-on ferry Stena Superfast VII and a submarine operating at periscope depth," the MAIB says.

It says the investigation is being conducted with the full co-operation of the Royal Navy.

Image copyright Emma Lynch
Image caption Azealia Banks took to social media to complain about airline staff

Finally, the paper reports on a US rapper's rant at Aer Lingus staff after she left a flight bound for Dublin.

Azealia Banks used the words "ugly Irish women" and "haggard old white ladies" in the social media posts, in which she suggested she had been the victim of racism.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson confirmed that two guests "disembarked themselves" from a London-to-Dublin flight.

"Aer Lingus has a strict no-tolerance policy towards disruptive guest behaviour," the spokesperson added.