Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Stormont's clock keeps on ticking

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

What do you call the day after deadline day?

It seems in Northern Ireland we call it Tuesday.

Politics dominates the front pages of the papers again today as the clock which was supposed to stop yesterday at 16:00 keeps on ticking.

The Belfast Telegraph seems to have run out of patience and says of stalemate MLAs who failed to secure an agreement: "Give them three months then stop their pay."

It quotes a member of the panel that sets MLAs' salaries who says their wages cost the taxpayer £13.5m per year - about the same as the botched Renewable Heating Incentive scheme that brought down the power-sharing executive.

Image caption Are we finding new ways to burn money, asks the Belfast Telegraph

Former Ass Chief Const Alan McQuillan says there would be public fury if MLAs were able to "sit back and collect pay cheques in the absence of a working executive".

"The political vacuum means that jobs and public services are under threat in the wider community," he says.

"For MLAs to continue merrily on full pay and expenses would anger people who were feeling the pain of the failure to reach a deal."

Inside, political commentator Malachi O'Doherty says he does not envy the position of Secretary of State James Brokenshire, who is faced with deciding how Northern Ireland moves on from the stalemate.

He says if Mr Brokenshire makes the wrong decision, he could "leave this place even more divided".

Image copyright Glenn family
Image caption Jack Glenn with his mother, Hester

Also in the Belfast Telegraph, the family of a missing Londonderry man are facing an anxious wait to find out if the body pulled from the River Foyle on Monday was that of the 23-year-old.

Jack Glenn went missing on 2 February after he failed to return home from a night out.

The News Letter leads with its editorial 'Morning View' on the front page, where it is clear on its position with a headline that asserts: "Sinn Féin holding us all to ransom."

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Sinn Féin are 'holding us all to ransom', says the News Letter

It asks when London "will dismiss pressure from Dublin and realise the Sinn Féin, which is not the first choice of 72% of voters, cannot hold Northern Ireland to ransom just because the party doesn't care if the Province fails?"

"London is naturally afraid of a return to violence... but there is only so long you can act timidly due to such fears," it reads.

The editorial concludes with a plea to readers not to take its stance as sectarian.

"The News Letter has shown its independence from unionist parties in our relentless scrutiny of RHI," it argues.

"Now Northern Ireland faces another governance scandal.

"Regrettably, direct rule is looking to be the best way forward, so that hard decisions can be made free of a Sinn Féin veto."

'One crisis to the next'

News Letter reporter Stephen Gamble took to the streets of Coleraine where he says the people share the paper's view that direct rule is the best option for a way forward.

One individual spoken to by the paper said Northern Ireland was "constantly lurching from one political crisis to the next" and rule from London was the "only option".

You'll have to reach page 13 of the paper to read its first non-political story of the day: "Teen scrambler gets 18 months for killing mum," reads the headline.

Image copyright Armstrong family
Image caption Valerie Armstrong was killed while walking in Colin Glen Forest Park in west Belfast last year

Gary Lewis, 18, was jailed on Monday for causing the death of mum-of-three Valerie Armstrong.

The story also features in the Irish News, which says Lewis "held Mrs Armstrong's hand and cried uncontrollably as she lay bleeding from fatal injuries".

It also says the teenager wrote to the victim's family.

'Intensive care'

On page three of the Irish News, Former Fermanagh and Down GAA player Shane King speaks out about his son's brain injury.

Patrick King, 15, was injured while mountain biking at Kilbroney Park in Rostrevor on Saturday, and has been sedated in intensive care ever since.

Mr King asks people to keep Patrick in their thoughts and prayers as the family keep a bedside vigil.