NI newspapers: North Belfast election focus

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UUP leader elect Steve Aiken has said the UUP will not contest the North Belfast seat in the upcoming election

The North Belfast election race dominates the front pages on three of Northern Ireland's daily newspapers.

The Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter both lead with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster urging unionist parties to work together in the upcoming general election.

On Sunday, the Ulster Unionist Party confirmed it will not field a candidate in the constituency where the choice was the sitting DUP MP Nigel Dodds or "an abstentionist MP" from Sinn Féin.

"Aiken U-turns to back limited unionist unity" is the News Letter's headline. The paper says Mr Aiken reversed his previous pledge that the UUP would not stand aside for the DUP in any seat.

The Belfast Telegraph says his decision followed "discussions with senior political and community figures".

SDLP withdrawal

Keeping with the North Belfast election race, the Irish News lead with "SDLP quits North Belfast poll" after SDLP deputy leader Nicola Mallon, who was expected to contest the seat, pulled out of the race.

The SDLP say the decision is aimed at "removing pro-Brexit, pro-Boris DUP MPs where possible".

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The document warns that a push for more pay parity with England would add over £100m to the pay bill

Also on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph is a warning about Northern Ireland's health budget.

Health officials tell the paper that an under pressure health budget faces a £100m deficit as a result of pay demands from unions threatening to go on strike.

The warning was set out by a Department of Health briefing document.

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Richard Clarke has been Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland for almost seven years

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, has announced his retirement and features on the News Letter front page.

Archbishop Clarke had held the role since 2012 and announced his retirement plans to St Mark's Parish Church in Armagh.