Northern Ireland

NI Paper Review: RHI cuts and Karen Bradley feeling the heat

News Letter front page Image copyright News Letter
Daily Mirror front page Image copyright Daily Mirror

Controversial comments made by Secretary of State Karen Bradley feature on the front pages of all of the local newspapers on Thursday.

Ms Bradley said that killings at the hands of the security forces were "not crimes".

She later clarified that "where there is evidence of wrongdoing, it should always be investigated".

The Daily Mirror, The Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and News Letter all lead with the line that Ms Bradley is facing calls to resign following her comments at the House of Commons on Wednesday.

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Media caption'They were people acting under orders' - Bradley

'From Brad to worse' is the headline on The Daily Mirror's front page while The Irish News simply favours 'Time to go'.

The Belfast Telegraph's political editor Suzanne Breen described Ms Bradley as being "extraordinarily inept, inane and ineffective".

Meanwhile the News Letter said the Conservative politician was feeling "the heat", which leads us to another story on their front page - the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Image caption The RHI scheme brought Stormont's institutions down in January 2017

The newspaper reports that the DUP has voted for a "massive" cut to RHI subsidies.

On Wednesday MPs passed a vote to slash RHI tariffs which Stormont had told businesses would remain unchanged for 20 years.

The cuts will see the annual payment for most boilers fall from £13,000 to just over £2,000.

An equivalent scheme in Great Britain is paying up to £20,000 per boiler.

The RHI scheme offered to subsidise the cost of its claimants' fuel - mostly wood pellets - for running their heating systems.

But the fuel actually cost far less than the subsidy they were receiving, effectively meaning that users could earn more money by burning more fuel.

Image copyright MOD
Image caption Patrick Azimkar (left) and Mark Quinsey were murdered in March 2009

Thursday marks 10 years since the Massereene Barracks murders, which is reflected in a number of today's papers.

Dissident republicans gunned down two soldiers at the gates of Massereene Barracks, in County Antrim, as they collected a pizza order.

Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar, of 38 Engineering regiment, were preparing to leave for Afghanistan when they were shot.

The soldiers were the first to be murdered in Northern Ireland since 1997.

Two days later Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead on duty in Craigavon, County Armagh.

The Irish News carries a story on former first minister Peter Robinson saying that violence "could have escalated" following the murder of the two soldiers and a police officer, had it not been for comments by his deputy Martin McGuinness.

The News Letter, Daily Mirror and Belfast Telegraph report that the PSNI took 4,062 investigative actions and 1,858 witness statements and made 33 searches and 14 arrests.

Sermons and social media

A minister with an Instagram following also features in The Belfast Telegraph.

And social media is not the only place where Rev Craig Cooney is popular - the congregation at his Hope Community Church in Craigavon, County Armagh, is growing too.

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