Northern Ireland

NI paper review: An electricity price hike and more 'gay cake' row

Daily Mirror NI Image copyright Daily Mirror NI

An electricity price hike and a prosecutor's decision on the first child killed in the Troubles all dominate Thursday's front pages.

We start with the Belfast Telegraph, where the 'Ashers cake' legal case could be heading to the European Court of Human Rights.

The high-profile dispute began in 2014 when the bakery refused to make a cake with the slogan Support Gay Marriage.

The customer, gay rights activist Gareth Lee, sued the company for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and political beliefs.

But the bakery has always insisted its objection was to the message on the cake, not the customer.

Image caption Gareth Lee requested a cake featuring the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie

Asher's lost the case and the subsequent appeal, but the Supreme Court last year overturned the decision in favour of the bakery's Christian owners, Daniel and Amy McArthur.

Gareth Lee's solicitor Ciaran Moynagh said: "The Supreme Court ruling blurred the line, creates legal uncertainty for all of us in Northern Ireland and the ECHR is the appropriate place to clarify this issue."

The news paper reports that the court battles to date have cost a total of £500,000- half by the equality commission on behalf of Mr Lee and half by the Christian institute on behalf of Mr and Mrs McCarthur.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Daniel McArthur has said Ashers refused to make the cake because of its message

On to the Daily Mirror, where homes in Northern Ireland are facing an electricity price hike after Power NI announced a 6% increase.

The Utility Regulator said the move will add £35 a year to the average bill.

According to Power NI, the 6.1% hike is "due to increases in costs coming from the electricity network provider and the market operator, which impacts all suppliers".

But the Consumer Council said it was "disappointed" with the news, adding it "occurred despite a decrease in wholesale energy prices over the past year".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption It is the third year in a row that Power NI has increased its prices

Power NI managing director Stephen McCully said: "We work very hard to keep our prices as low as possible.

"Unfortunately, like all suppliers, we have no alternative but to pay these increased network and market charges, which have a knock-on effect on our prices."

On the cover of the Irish News, a decision is expected next month by prosecutors examining the case of the first child killed in the Troubles.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Soldiers on the Falls Road in Belfast in 1969

Nine-year-old Patrick Rooney died 50 years ago on Thursday after being shot by police while in the bedroom of his home in Divis, west Belfast.

No one has ever been convicted in relation to his death, which was one of eight between 14 and 16 August 1969.

Inside the newspaper, Patrick's brother, Con, recalls the harrowing scenes on the night of the killing and how his father asked him to keep fighting to find out what happened.

'Officer Y'

According to the Irish News, it is understood that a former RUC officer questioned in June last year about Patrick's death, gave a no comment interview.

A file on the case was brought to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) last August.

Recently, the Rooney family's solicitor, Fearghal Shiels, wrote to the PPS voicing concerns over a delay in the case.

The newspaper reports that members of the family met a senior prosecutor on Wednesday.

Image copyright Getty Images

And finally, in the News Letter, the Hillsborough Farmers' market is set to take place for the final time this summer.

It will be hosted by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council on Saturday 31 August at the dark walk at Hillsborough Fort.

According to the organisers, the 2019 summer markets have been busier than ever with a record number of 4,000 visitors attending the July market.

This month's market will offer fresh artisan foods, including meats, breads, cakes and fresh produce.