Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Virtual reality border and mistaken identities

Mirror Image copyright Mirror

A digital Irish border, mental health issues, the future of Mike Nesbitt and more violence linked to a loyalist feud make the front pages on Thursday.

"Now the border's a virtual reality" is the Belfast Telegraph's front page headline.

It says there are plans for a post-Brexit digital border, with high-tech equipment ensuring there would be no checkpoints.

Sinn Féin describe Brexit Secretary David Davis' proposal as "laughable".

However, the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson accuses Sinn Féin of acting like "doom and gloom merchants".

Staying on political matters, the News Letter leads with veteran Ulster Unionist Samuel Gardiner's prediction that party leader Mike Nesbitt could disappear from Northern Ireland politics and "he may drag the once great Ulster Unionist Party with him".

Mr Gardiner describes Mr Nesbitt's statement about transferring votes to the SDLP as "political suicide".

The former MLA says it looks like a single unionist party could now emerge.

Meanwhile, the front page of the Irish News features a plea for Northern Ireland's politicians to take mental health issues more seriously.

Hester Glenn's son Jack remains missing six weeks after going into the River Foyle.

Mrs Glenn, who works as a carer, says she does not feel there is enough help available for young people with mental health issues or depression.

"Politicians need to sit down and take mental health more seriously," she says.

Hammer and baseball bat attack

The Mirror leads with an attack on a man in a bar in Doagh, County Antrim, on Wednesday night.

It says four men walked into the pub armed with baseball bats and hammers and attacked the victim.

The attack is believed to be linked to a loyalist feud in Carrickfergus in which 44-year-old Geordie Gilmore was shot dead.

Inside, the News Letter, Irish News and Belfast Telegraph all have the story of a Fermanagh mother's outrage after her son's school put her son "into isolation" due to his haircut.

Image copyright Susan Miskimmin
Image caption Henry Miskimmin had his hair cut on Thursday evening and says he was in isolation on Friday and Monday

Sandra Miskimmin says her son Henry was punished by Enniskillen Royal Grammar School after getting what she described as a "short, back and sides".

Mrs Miskimmin took to social media in protest and asked: "Do you think my son's hair is too short?"

She accuses the school of a "1900s style approach" and says she has received dozens of messages of support.

The school says it is an internal matter and is being dealt with.

Billy's long walk

The start of courageous Castlederg boy Billy Caldwell's 150-mile walk to fund vital treatment in America is marked in The Irish News.

Last month, Billy returned from Los Angeles after six months of cannabis oil treatment to control his life-threatening epilepsy seizures.

"He's in really high spirits and the response from people on the route has been really good," his mum Charlotte tells the paper.

Meanwhile, the News Letter says unionists have branded projected costs for an Irish language act as "absurd"

Conradh na Gaeilge says the cost would be £19m for the five-year introductory phase.

However, the DUP's Nelson McCausland tells the paper the figure is completely unrealistic.

'I will find you'

Finally, it seems that some of Northern Ireland's actors are often the victims of mistaken identity.

Adrian Dunbar tells the Belfast Telegraph he was constantly mistaken for Liam Neeson - being greeted in the street as Mr Neeson or just Liam - until his new found-fame from starring in the TV series Line of Duty.

Image caption Separated at birth? Could Liam Neeson really be mistaken for Fidel Castro?

Rather more bizarrely, the paper says that, in the past, Neeson was frequently mistaken for Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Be warned, if you make that comparison he will look for you, he will find you and he will ask you how you could mistake a Ballymena man for a cigar-chomping Latin American revolutionary.