Northern Ireland

NI newspaper headlines: Brexit plan leaves 'unionism at war'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Boris Johnson leaving the stage after delivering his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference

Boris Johnson's so-called "new deal" for Northern Ireland divides opinion and dominates Thursday's front pages.

The prime minister has outlined plans that would see Northern Ireland stay in the European single market for goods but leave the customs union - resulting in new customs checks.

Reaction includes accusations of a U-turn by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar warning the plan doesn't meet backstop objectives.

The backstop was the plan for keeping the Irish border as open as it is today, if that can't be achieved through a trade deal or technological solutions.

The papers report that the DUP is under fire for backing the new Brexit proposals, which have received a "cool reception" in Brussels.

The Belfast Telegraph reports unionism is "at war" after DUP leader Arlene Foster said the plan was a "serious and sensible way forward".

Image copyright Daily Mirror

TUV leader Jim Allister told the paper the DUP's red line was "not just blurred, it's gone", while others accused the party of a U-turn over its opposition to any agreement that resulted in a new regulatory border in the Irish Sea.

Mrs Foster defended the stance in the News Letter, saying the difference was the new plan "allows us to leave the European Union customs union, it allows us to leave the single market and then we opt in if we are not in the position to put in alternative arrangements at that time".

She said the plan worked for Northern Ireland "whilst letting us leave the European union" and she urged Europe to give the plan serious consideration.

'Cool'

However, the Irish News emphasises the DUP is "alone in backing Johnson's Brexit proposals".

It reports the initial reaction to the proposal in Brussels was "cool" while Taoiseach Varadkar told Mr Johnson the proposals did not fully meet the agreed objectives of the backstop.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror leads with Boris Johnson's promise of "more cash for Northern Ireland".

It highlights the prime minister's pledge to boost economic growth and competitiveness, and to support cross-border infrastructure projects.

Thursday's papers also report the death of the mother of German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser, who was murdered in County Antrim 31 years ago.

Almut Hauser died on Wednesday after a long illness, the law firm representing her family said.

Image caption German backpacker Inga Maria Hauser was murdered in County Antrim 31 years ago

"Both of Inga's parents now have passed on without receiving justice or answers regarding the murder of this beautiful 18-year-old girl," said solicitor Claire McKeegan.

The Belfast Telegraph also tells the story of a couple in their 80s who plan to marry after unexpectedly "waltzing into each other's lives".

Josephine Brown, 82, and Barry Moore, 82, met at a dance in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, last summer.

They were each previously married for more than 50 years and cared for their partners during their final years.

Mr Moore told the paper everything was "sweet" as they had so many stories to tell each other, while Ms Brown said due to their age it was "about living in the moment".