Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Assembly 'sideshow' and Jabba the Hut

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

Political matters dominate the front pages of the Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and News Letter on Monday, though all focus on different aspects.

The Belfast Telegraph says "Assembly back, but it's just a sideshow".

It says the 90 MLAs elected on 2 March will sign in at Stormont later before adjourning proceedings.

A speaker will not be elected and no business is on the agenda, prompting TUV leader Jim Allister to brand it a "fiasco".

The Irish News returns to the issue of a controversial community fund scheme launched by the DUP.

Of the 61 applications to the £1.9m Community Halls Pilot Programme submitted by GAA clubs, only two were successful, it reports.

Meanwhile, the News Letter leads with outgoing Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt's denunciation of the DUP as a party which "endangers our future".

It says that in his final speech to his party's ruling executive on Saturday, Mr Nesbitt said that the DUP's language was "intent on domination", which only achieved "further division and polarisation".

Police officers disciplined

Inside, all three papers report that six PSNI officers have been disciplined for making "unprofessional and inappropriate" comments on social media in the last three years.

One officer was found to have posted homophobic comments about a colleague, while another shared details of a threat briefing.

The sanctions laid down ranged from a reduction in pay to advice and guidance.

Filthy mattress

Both the News Letter and Belfast Telegraph publish pictures of the shipping container in which a kidnapped cattle dealer was held for five days in a remote County Tyrone field.

A filthy mattress lies at the back of the squalid container, where Paul Gogan was was kept, bound by cable ties, in the pitch dark.

A Scottish businessman and four Tyrone men were convicted and given suspended sentences over the kidnapping, but prosecutors said they are considering referring the sentences to the Court of Appeal.

The News Letter also devotes a lot of coverage to a victims event taking place at Stormont later.

In an article on page two of the paper, DUP leader Arlene Foster says her party will "not allow the rewriting of the past by attempts to take the focus off those who perpetrated 90% of the deaths and injuries".

Former UDR soldier Noel Downey tells the paper of the moment he was injured by an under-car bomb.

"I got out of the car and tried to walk, but kept falling down," he says.

Belfast night mayor

The Irish News reports that private ambulances were used more than 600 times in Northern Ireland in January. It says 561 of these were classed as emergency calls.

The paper also carries the call from Peter O'Neill of the Imagine Belfast Festival for the city to consider the appointment of a "night mayor" to develop its nocturnal economy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fancy these guys at your wedding?

Stormtrooper ushers

Finally, the Belfast Telegraph features the unusual ways some Northern Ireland couples have chosen to tie the knot.

When Nicola Simpkin and her husband Steve got to the pavilion of their Central Park, New York, wedding they discovered a homeless man was sleeping inside.

Meanwhile, Colin and Adele Symington's Star Wars-themed wedding featured Stormtroopers, Darth Vader and a Jabba the Hut cake.

A nod to the Dark Side of marriage, perhaps?

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