Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: £1bn cash deal concerns and a vintage cat

Front page of the News Letter on Friday
Image caption Front page of the News Letter on Friday
Front page of the Daily Mirror on Friday
Image caption Front page of the Daily Mirror on Friday

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire is the target of East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson's ire on the front page of the News Letter as he calls on him to "stop pussyfooting around" on the extra £1bn of spending negotiated in the DUP's deal with the Conservatives.

Mr Wilson claims it would suit Sinn Féin's agenda to prevent increased public spending in Northern Ireland and described the current situation as "all a bit cack-handed".

Mr Brokenshire has suggested the £1bn was "for a new executive to see that we get local politicians making decisions" and that "there will be a whole host of decisions to take should that not happen".

Mr Wilson insists calls for the NI Secretary to clarify his position are meaningless as he believes the original deal still stands.

The Conservatives said on Thursday night that it wants the "additional funding identified in the agreement to go to a new executive", but if it proves impossible to establish devolution the party, in signing the agreement, "has recognised the case for the higher funding Northern Ireland needs".

In a separate story in the newspaper, Sinn Féin dismissed a DUP claim that it is using the Irish language as an excuse to avoid the restoration of power-sharing as "ludicrous".

The DUP's Edwin Poots had said the proposed Irish language act was a "useful tool" for Sinn Féin to avoid the hard decisions of government.

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said his party is "absolutely committed" to the return of the executive and that if the DUP did not believe them they should "call our bluff" by agreeing to an act and "the other rights-based issues which are outstanding".

The Irish News leads with the story of a gruelling pilgrimage by a former Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) star who has been diagnosed with a terminal neurological condition.

Former Antrim captain Anto Finnegan, who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), travelled 90 miles of the Camino de Santiago to highlight the condition.

Mr Finnegan was joined by his wife Alison and two friends on the trip and said one of the tougher routes was chosen with a purpose.

"Living with MND on a daily basis is really challenging, not just for the person with the condition but for the people around you," he said.

"We wanted something which mirrored the challenge of living with the condition."

Bonfires

The newspaper also reports that youths have targeted a south Belfast apartment block just over a week after it was damaged by an Eleventh night bonfire.

Criminal damage was caused to the entrance of the building's car park hours after a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the impact of the blaze near Sandy Row.

Image caption James Brokenshire has been told to 'stop pussyfooting around' by Sammy Wilson

The paper also notes that the police have removed bonfire materials blocking a street in a nationalist area of north Belfast.

'Anti-internment' bonfires are lit in some nationalist areas to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment on 9 August 1971.

Safety concerns had been raised about the bonfire in Victoria Parade in the New Lodge area being built near blocks of flats and a children's nursery.

The death of a former estate agent makes the front page of the Belfast Telegraph.

Philip Johnston was arrested in April 2005 as part of an inquiry into the affairs of murdered loyalist Jim Gray.

Charges of money laundering were dropped in August 2006 but Mr Johnston, who was forced to sell his six offices, said the incident had left him financially ruined.

The 51-year-old's body was found at his home on Bangor's Bryansburn Road on Wednesday. Police say they are not treating his death as suspicious.

The Daily Mirror also covers the story and says friends were shocked by his death adding that he had never recovered "from the devastation he experienced over his arrest and charge".

Image caption The entrance to the car park of an apartment block in Wellwood Street near Sandy Row in south Belfast has been attacked by youths

The newspaper leads with Celtic's condemnation of "a small minority of fans" after it was charged by UEFA over an "illicit banner" displayed during Wednesday's second-leg game in the Champions League tie against Linfield.

The Glasgow club have also been cited for a "kit infringement" and "blocked stairways". A Uefa spokesperson said that the illicit banner charge related to the banner "portraying a person in a paramilitary uniform".

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths was given a one-match ban for provoking spectators during the first leg at Windsor Park while his club have been fined £4,000. Linfield have been handed a partial stadium closure for their next European tie and fined £8,850 over fan behaviour.

They say a cat has nine lives and that certainly appears to be the case with a 31-year-old called Sasha featured in the Belfast Telegraph.

Owner Beth O'Neill from Newtownabbey says she discovered the feline, who is the equivalent of more than 160 human years, in a battered state at stables near her home in 1991.

Beth has contacted the Guinness Book of Records about Sasha following the death of the world's oldest cat in Texas and says she has always been able to put her two dogs in their place.

"If they don't heed her, she puts her claws out and shows them who the boss is."

Beth says Sasha also faces competition from a young pretender, her daughter's cat Nico, who is a sprightly 24.