Northern Ireland

NI paper review: New day, same political deadlock

Belfast News Letter Image copyright Belfast News Letter

As politicians struggle to make any progress in power sharing talks at Stormont, journalists are struggling to present no news as news.

The Belfast Telegraph, News Letter and the Irish News all focus on the lack of progress at the negotiations and on the question of legislation regarding the Irish language, which the parties so far have been unable to find common ground.

It is a story which demands front page coverage but which has not moved on all that much, if at all, during this latest political crisis.

The Irish News focuses on the DUP's criticism of the Irish government after it called for a 'standalone' Irish language act in Northern Ireland, which the DUP steadfastly opposes.

The DUP accused Dublin of "meddling" after the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs re-iterated its position that separate legislation on the Irish language language was required in Northern Ireland.

The paper reports that the DUP is now seeking a meeting with the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs on the issue.

The Irish News coverage of the issue is less comprehensive today than it has been, despite that fact that the deadline for completion of the talks is 16:00 BST - but it is difficult to say anything that has not been said already.

Same-sex marriage

Page three of the nationalist leaning daily reveals that Hollywood star, and more importantly Ballymena native, Liam Neeson has called for the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland - another political sticking point in the talks process.

TV stars Graham Norton and Stephen Fry have joined him in that call ahead of a planned protest in Belfast on Saturday.

The News Letter's front page picture is of padlocked gates of Stormont, a symbol of political deadlock in parliament buildings, which loom in the background.

The Irish language issue is its lead story, as it was on Wednesday, under the headline "Irish language 'has all the protection it needs'", reflecting the views of two former leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party, Sir Reg Empey and Tom Elliot.

Sir Reg believes that measures concerning the Gaelic tongue in recent decades are "sufficient" whilst Mr Elliot believes the issue should be "well down the pecking order" in terms of political issues - not at the top as it is.

The paper reports on its inside pages that there is "concern" that the DUP could be contemplating a possible U-turn on the issue, the Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann has made it clear that his party would not provide "cover" for the DUP if it decided to back an Irish language act.

Deadlock

The paper's editorial supports the DUP's stance in terms of the Irish government's involvement in Northern Ireland which it describes as "interference in internal Northern Ireland matters".

There are no prizes for guessing what is on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph - "Parties in late bid to break Stormont deadlock".

Again, the paper cites an Irish language act as the key sticking point and reports the general view from across the spectrum that there is little hope of a breakthrough which would allow the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland.

Like the Irish News and the News Letter, and every other outlet, the Belfast Telegraph struggles to find a new line on the political situation.

The paper's editorial warns Northern Ireland's political parties to "think deeply" before allowing the talks process to fail.

Hillsborough

The Northern Ireland edition of the Daily Mirror demotes Northern Ireland's political crisis to the top right-hand corner of its front page which is dominated by a large '95' inset with the pictures of 95 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

The paper says: "At last: Top cop on trial for 1989 deaths."

The Mirror gives two pages of coverage to the story that former Ch Supt David Duckenfield faces 95 charges of manslaughter and five other senior figures will be prosecuted in relation to the deaths.

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