Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Liam Neeson, Theresa May and St Patrick

Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

Liam Neeson, Theresa May and St Patrick all feature on the front of Tuesday's papers.

"Star Neeson's race hate confession" is the headline on the front of the Daily Mirror.

It follows comments by the actor that he walked the streets with a weapon, hoping to kill a black man as revenge after someone close to him was raped.

"It was horrible, when I think back. It's awful, But I did learn a lesson from it," Neeson said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Liam Neeson's comments during an interview have sparked controversy

The Mirror quotes a number of public figures who have criticised the Ballymena man's comments, which were made during an interview to promote his new film.

While both the Belfast Telegraph and News Letter have pictures of Neeson on their front pages, both lead with Theresa May's visit to Belfast, although they take different angles on it.

The News Letter says the prime minister faces the threat of being taken to court by former NI first minister Lord Trimble.

It says the peer has announced that he is putting together a judicial review which will argue that the Brexit Irish border backstop breaches the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

"Whether the case ever comes to court, and regardless of the legal outcome of any proceedings, the declaration by Lord Trimble represents a political difficulty not just for Mrs May, but for those such as the EU and Dublin who have argued that the backstop is essential to preserve the agreement," the News Letter's Sam McBride says.

The Belfast Telegraph says that Mrs May will vow to deliver a Brexit "that honours our commitments to Northern Ireland" during her Belfast visit.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Theresa May will arrive in Northern Ireland on Tuesday

It says she will reach out to business and political leaders as she tries to find an alternative to the backstop that will command cross-community support.

Sources tell the paper that Mrs May will stress her commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and will focus on reaching out to pro-remain politicians.

St Patrick's Day switch

The St Patrick's Day parade in Ireland's ecclesiastical capital is the subject of The Irish News' front page story.

It says this year's parade in Armagh won't actually take place on St Patrick's Day.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption St Patrick will be commemorated a day early in Armagh this year

Unionist concerns about holding the parade on a Sunday have seen it switched to Saturday 16 March, according to The Irish News.

"Our view is that it would be better on Saturday given strongly held views of people not being able to go to church because the town would be was closed off," the DUP' Mark Baxter says.

Posting on Facebook Armagh Sinn Féin councillor Garath Keating said his "initial inclination" was to boycott the parade, but added "the difficulty there is how that approach will assist matters for future years".

He added: "St Patrick's Day only falls on a Sunday once more between now and 2030. Why leave an open goal for people who would happily slash the funding given half an excuse."

Major parades in other key centres around Ireland will still take place on Sunday, The Irish News adds.

Mass brawls

Inside, the paper reports that a dispute within the Traveller community led to "mass brawls" at Belfast International Airport and a County Londonderry graveyard.

It says a fight broke out at the airport departures lounge on Saturday between two groups "brandishing objects including mops and metal poles".

Earlier that morning, The Irish News reports, police with batons intervened to prevent a mass brawl involving more than 200 people in the grounds of St Mary's Church in Park, County Derry.

Sinn Féin councillor Sean McGlinchey says the two fights were the result of an "ongoing feud between different factions" in the Traveller community.

The News Letter reports on an interview Baroness Paisley gave to veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Baroness Paisley was asked how "if she could cope" if a child or grandchild was gay

In a "wide-ranging interview" the wife of the late Ian Paisley was asked "if she could cope" if a child or grandchild was gay.

"I couldn't stop loving them because of what they've done and I wouldn't stop loving them. People used to ask me 'what would you do if one of your children married a Catholic?'" she said.

"I'd still love them and I'd love their partner as well. Life's bigger than that and love's bigger than that."

Finally the Belfast Telegraph reports that just one in five young people in Northern Ireland says using social media makes them happy,

A report by a children's charity found that more than 57% of young people in NI feel inadequate when comparing their lives to their friends on social media.

One in six said they always or often feel panicked when seeing the lives of their friends online.

However, on a positive note, almost a third of respondents claim social media makes them feel they can have a voice for their generation and influence positive change.