Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Mass brawl at Ballymena church

A bus travels over the Irish border Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Finding a solution to the Irish border issue is one of the main challenges of Brexit

Cross-border relations are very cross indeed according to Monday's papers, as the Democratic Unionist Party asks: "Just what is going on in Dublin?"

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds pulls no punches in the News Letter, accusing the Irish government of "mixed messages" and "confusion" over Brexit.

He was reacting to comments by the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar, who said his government "will not design a border for Brexiteers".

Mr Dodds described it as "politicking".

However, the paper said the taoiseach's remarks angered unionists and whipped up a "political storm".

"It's simply taking things backwards at a time when common sense co-operation between our two countries and between the Republic and Northern Ireland is what is needed," Mr Dodds complained.

The DUP MP suggested Mr Varadkar's stance may have been motivated by the possibility of a forthcoming general election in the Republic of Ireland.

Unanswered questions

However, a poignant display of cross-border co-operation features prominently in the Irish News and the Daily Mirror as both papers report on a moving tribute to an Irish Coast Guard rescue crew.

A flotilla of almost 100 boats gathered at Carlingford Lough on Sunday to remember the crew of Rescue Helicopter 116, which crashed off the County Mayo coast in March.

The bodies of two members of the four-strong crew still have not been recovered from the sea.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Sunday's flotilla culminated in a ceremony at Rostrevor Bay in County Down

Unanswered questions also persist for victims of the 1972 Claudy bombing, on the 45th anniversary of the IRA attack.

Marjorie Leslie, who was badly injured in the explosions, tells the News Letter she does not believe victims will ever learn the truth about who planted the three car bombs.

"No one has ever been brought to justice over Claudy and realistically, I don't believe anyone ever will," she says.

The Irish News leads with a close examination of top doctors' pay packets.

The paper reports that, on top of their salaries, more than 460 doctors and dentists in Northern Ireland share £5m in bonuses.

Former Stormont health minister Michelle O'Neill says the bonuses are unacceptable "at a time when nurses can't achieve a 1% pay increase".

Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption Molly Owens and her father are believed to be with a woman in the Republic of Ireland

The Mirror reports on the case of a missing five-year-old girl from Wales who police believe may have been taken to the Republic of Ireland.

Molly Owens, from Holyhead, is believe to be travelling with her father who is wanted by officers after he missed a court appearance on Friday.

Thirteen miscarriages

Imagine phoning home to wish your mother happy birthday, only to be given the devastating news that she is dead.

That's what happened to Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong, who has been telling the Belfast Telegraph about the worst day of her life.

As part of the paper's Meet the MLAs series, she speaks candidly about her mother's sudden death from cancer in 1992.

Image caption Kellie Armstrong spoke candidly about the best and worst days of her life

Then 21, Ms Armstrong explained how her mother was going into hospital for some tests, just as she was heading off for a summer holiday in Turkey.

"I phoned home a week-and-a-half later to wish her a happy birthday - only to be told she had died the day before."

The Strangford politician also revealed she's had 13 miscarriages.

She said the birth of her daughter, now 14, was the best day of her life.

The Belfast Telegraph also reports on a Mass brawl in Ballymena at the weekend.

The paper says terrified church-goers had to "run back to their pews" after unwittingly walking into a street brawl outside All Saints' Church after Saturday night Mass.

The dispute between building site workers and members of the Travelling community led to "an angry mob beating people with iron bars and shovels," it is reported.

'Kill each other over misunderstanding'

In a dramatic turn of events, the Orange Order is to be "put on trial for treason," according to the Irish News.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The Orange Order is the focus of a new history play

The institution's role in Irish history will be cross-examined in a new play, to be staged in a County Louth courthouse next month.

It follows a similar production last year, which focused on the leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, Patrick Pearse.

The case for and against the Orange Order has been penned by Newry playwright, Anthony Russell.

"We kill each other over a misunderstanding of history, and the more we understand history, maybe the less likely we are to kill each other," he says.