Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Same-sex marriage change dominates front pages

The front page of the Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror
The front page of the News Letter Image copyright News Letter

A vote by MPs on Tuesday on liberalising abortion laws and extended same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland is the lead in three of Wednesday's papers.

The action will be taken if devolution is not restored by 21 October.

"Historic day for same-sex couples" is the headline on the front of the Daily Mirror.

And the Belfast Telegraph leads with the headline: "DUP challenged over landmark Commons vote".

The votes came as part of a Commons debate aimed at keeping Northern Ireland running in the absence of devolved government.

Commons votes split opinion

Labour's Conor McGinn put forward the same-sex marriage amendment to the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Bill on the condition that a future Stormont assembly could overturn or amend the law.

The abortion amendment, put forward by his Labour colleague Stella Creasy, is subject to the same condition.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A potential change to same-sex marriage laws makes the front of three of Wednesday's papers

The Daily Mirror highlights comments made by Amnesty International's Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan, who calls it "a day for the history books".

"In just three months' time, we could see the first same-sex couples here tying the knot," he says.

The Belfast Telegraph focuses on criticism of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) by Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister, who says the party should make devolved issues the price of any future deal with the government.

"Make no mistake, the DUP has the means to thwart this meddling by making the status quo of devolved control of these issues the cost of the new confidence-and-supply arrangements," adds Mr Allister.

Bonfire protest and a rebel song video

Wednesday's Irish News carries coverage of the removal of a loyalist bonfire from the car park of an east Belfast leisure centre as its lead.

Image caption A barricade was erected at Avoniel Leisure Centre, where a loyalist bonfire has been built

The standoff over the pyre at Avoniel Leisure Centre came to a head on Tuesday night, with protesters gathering at the site.

Protesters plan to remain at the site until the Eleventh Night bonfire on Thursday, the paper reports.

Inside, the paper carries the story that police are treating as a "hate incident" a video in which the Tyrone GAA senior football team were filmed singing a rebel song as they passed band parade.

Supt Mike Baird says an investigation would take place "to establish if any offences have been committed".

'Twelfth not excuse for hatred'

The Irish News has a call from Edward Stevenson, the grand master of the Orange Order, for anyone wanting to cause trouble on the Twelfth to "stay away".

On 12 July each year Orange Order members commemorate the 1690 Battle of the Boyne with parades across Northern Ireland.

Image copyright David Maginnis
Image caption The Royal Black Preceptory organises the Sham Fight at Scarva on 13 July every year

"The Twelfth of July is a celebration of our beliefs, history and culture - it is not borne from, or must it be used as an excuse to show hatred to the beliefs or culture of others," says Mr Stevenson.

Alongside its coverage of Tuesday's vote by MPs on same-sex marriage and abortion, the front of the News Letter has a large image of the actors set to play King William of Orange and King James II in this year's Sham Fight.

The annual event takes place in the County Down village of Scarva and will be happening on Saturday.

The clash, which will see the historic foes face off in a re-enactment, will be proceeded by a large parade in the town and is expected to draw thousands of visitors.