Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Big names set for McGuinness funeral

News Letter 23 March Image copyright News Letter
Mirror

The funeral of IRA leader turned deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, due to take place in his native Derry later, dominates the front pages.

The Irish News and the News Letter are scooped by the Belfast Telegraph in the debate over: "Will she, won't she?"

The Telegraph bills as "exclusive" its news that former first minister Arlene Foster will attend the Mr Guinness's funeral.

The Irish News headline reads: "Still uncertainty over Foster's attendance at McGuinness funeral" and the News Letter remains equally in the dark.

'Mental scars'

Writing in The Telegraph, the DUP leader says she is mindful of the "empty chairs and broken hearts as a result of the terrorism Martin McGuinness supported", but she also acknowledges his "central role in leading republicans away from the bomb and the bullet".

Inside, former editor Ed Curran writes: "No-one should underestimate how difficult it must be for her", as she carries "the mental scars of the IRA's terror".

Journalist Suzanne Breen writes that it will be "the most important gesture of her political life".

The Irish News reports that former US President Bill Clinton and former First Minister Peter Robinson will also be present at the funeral at St Columba's Church, Long Tower.

Irish President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny are also due to attend, the paper reports. In nine pages of coverage, it looks at the life of Martin McGuinness from 1950 to 2017.

There is stillness as the city holds its breath in the run-up to the funeral, writes one reporter.

Journalist and commentator Fionnuala O'Connor writes that Arlene Foster's acknowledgement that republicans were mourning "a leader, a friend or a mentor" was all the more welcome because it was "fresh".

"If she could have summoned a breath of that generosity as first minister, how different the past months could have been," she notes.

'Uncompromising'

The News Letter also leads on the funeral, but takes a tougher line, turning the spotlight back on politics.

In its front page lead, it reports that Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has "explicitly hardened" his party's position on the Stormont talks, on the eve of Martin McGuinness' funeral.

The headline on the paper's editorial warns: "London must stand up to threat from Gerry Adams".

It accuses Mr Adams of "upping the ante" in the Stormont negotiations with what the paper labelled "an inflammatory and uncompromising speech".

Westminster attack

Both the Irish Mirror and Belfast Telegraph feature the same front-page picture of the Westminster attack.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A man believed to be the suspect received medical treatment, while two knives lie on the floor

"Slaughter at the gates of government", reads the Telegraph headline while the Mirror declares: "Attack on democracy".

The photograph shows paramedics working over an injured man, believed to be the suspect, lying on a stretcher.

Two red rings draw the reader's attention to two knives lying nearby on the street.

The Mirror calls the attacker a "maniac" who went on a "parliament rampage".

The Telegraph says DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson was "forced to dive for cover" after he was caught up in the Westminster attacks.

"I saw the police officer and the people who were attending to him, it was devastating," he said.

SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said she had been in "lockdown" for three hours in the House of Commons.

"I never want to go through that again," she said.

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