Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Pat McCormick body find and Lyra McKee partner speaks

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

The discovery of the body of missing Pat McCormick makes the front pages of two of Thursday's papers.

The 55-year-old father of four was last seen in Comber in County Down on 30 May, driving his black car.

In the Daily Mirror, his brother Harry is quoted saying the family are grateful to "have Pat home for our final goodbyes".

The Belfast Telegraph focuses on the circumstances of his disappearance and the discovery of his body on Tuesday.

"First and foremost, my thoughts are with Pat's family as they come to terms with this news," said Det Ch Insp Pete Montgomery on Wednesday.

'It was bittersweet'

Two days after MPs voted to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland if a Stormont executive is not in place by 21 October, the Belfast Telegraph interviews Sara Canning, the partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

Ms McKee died after being shot in the head while observing rioting in Londonderry in April.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sara Canning said it was a bittersweet moment when she heard MPs had voted to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

"I know Lyra would be dragging me to a wedding planner today to pick a date," said Ms Canning.

"I just started screaming: 'It's passed, it's passed.'

"Lyra wasn't here to share in that, in how joyous a moment it was for people and how it would have been for both of us.

"It was really hard, it was bittersweet."

'Beautiful, kind young lad'

The front page of the Irish News has a story about the death of a young footballer from Belfast's New Lodge.

It features tributes to 12-year-old Sean Hamilton, who died after heart surgery complications.

"Sean was a beautiful, kind young lad who was exceptionally popular with his peers and the staff alike," said Stephen Ramsey, the principal St Gerard's School where Sean was a pupil.

'Crackdown on bonfires'

With Eleventh Night bonfires set to be lit across Northern Ireland on Thursday night, the Irish News continues its coverage of the issues that have marred the build-up to the events.

There have been controversies over a bonfire built in the car park of Avoniel Leisure Centre in east Belfast and the removal of tyres from bonfires.

"Does structure 'meet guidelines' as senior Orangeman claims?" is the headline on one article.

It looks at the claim by senior Orangeman Rev Mervyn Gibson that the bonfire in Avoniel meets fire safety standards.

The paper uses Google satellite imagery to examine whether the nearest property to the bonfire is at a minimum distance of five times the pyre's height of 21ft (6.4m), the minimum recommended safe distance.

"It would suggest some trees to the north of the bonfire and an allotment and community gardens to the south would fall within this 'unsafe' radius," says the paper.

"However, if the bonfire is smaller in height, this 'unsafe' area would be reduced."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Women surrounded the loyalist bonfire in Avoniel as part of a protest on Tuesday

The front of the News Letter also focuses on bonfires, with the headline: "Loyalists defiant as fire tensions simmer."

The story covers a protest at Avoniel Leisure Centre, saying some attendees were "voicing fears that what is being witnessed is a sign of a wider crackdown upon bonfires".

Inside, the paper has coverage of a Spanish GP and part-time photojournalist who has travelled to Northern Ireland for Eleventh Night.

Alfons Cabrera, a 37-year-old from the Catalan region, said he had not expected the bonfires to be so big when he came here for the first time last year.

"When you first see the bonfires it's quite shocking," he said.

"They are really huge - I told my friends in Barcelona that the are 25m (82ft) high and they don't believe me."