Northern Ireland

NI paper review: 'Creepy texts', face-off and blood red sky

News Letter

"Creepy" texts to a GAA star the night before he died, benefit cheats, a political face-off and a blood red sky make the headlines on Wednesday.

The Irish News leads with the mystery of two text messages found on the phone of Tyrone GAA player Cormac McAnallen.

Mr McAnallen died suddenly in the bedroom of his Eglish home in 2004.

In a new book about his brother, Dónal McAnallen said the family initially feared foul play after finding two text messages after his death.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Cormac McAnallen died suddenly in the bedroom of his Eglish home in 2004

He described the messages as "bizarre and creepy". However, police later tracked down the source of the texts and ruled out anything untoward.

A face-off between the UK and Irish prime ministers is on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph.

The paper says Theresa May and Leo Varadkar are on a collision course over what will happen in Northern Ireland if talks to restore the Stormont executive fail.

The UK government has definitively rejected any suggestion that there could be joint authority, the Telegraph says.

It follows an assertion by Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney that "there can be no British-only direct rule".

Image copyright PA/Reuters
Image caption The Belfast Telegraph says that Theresa May and Leo Varadkar are on a collision course

The DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warns that any moves towards joint authority could lead to grave consequences for Mrs May's government, which relies on votes from his party to survive.

Benefit cheats

Meanwhile, the News Letter leads with the cost of benefit cheats and what happens to them when they're caught.

It says they have cost taxpayers in Northern Ireland £4m over the last 18 months, but that over the same period only one of the 425 people convicted have been sent to jail - and that was for one month.

The worst offender, who falsely claimed £110,00 in housing benefit and income support, received a 16-month suspended jail sentence.

The paper also features strong criticism of Sinn Féin's stance on returning to Stormont from the Alliance and Green parties.

Inside the Daily Mirror is news that Harland and Wolff could be set to play a role in a new warship-building programme.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has unveiled plans for five frigates to be built by 2023 and the paper says the Belfast shipyard could be involved in building them.

The future plans of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams receive a lot of coverage in the papers, with some slight disagreement over just what to read into Mr Adams' comments on his leadership.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The future plans of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams receive a lot of coverage in the papers

Mr Adams has said he will set out his "future intentions" if he is re-elected party leader at its conference in November.

The Belfast Telegraph's Suzanne Breen says that what could have been a "quick adieu has become the long goodbye, with Gerry in the limelight all the while".

The Mirror says that Mr Adams has given his clearest indication that he could remain leader of Sinn Féin while a successor such as Mary Lou McDonald leads it in the Republic.

However, John Manley writes in the Irish News that Mr Adams is likely to assume some kind of ambassadorial role like the type once assumed by the late Joe Cahill and that the "overdue transition" will see Sinn Féin "join the mainstream" in the Republic.

The News Letter has a picture of DUP MLA Jim Wells with Republic of Ireland football fan Ciaran Weir at Windsor Park on Monday night.

Mr Wells invited Mr Weir to join him at Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic after the west Belfast man said he viewed Windsor Park as a place where Catholics were not welcome.

After Monday night's game, Mr Weir told Radio Ulster's Talkback that he had a "fantastic time" and it had "totally changed my mind".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A dramatic sky over Windsor Park on Monday night

Anyone watching that game would have noticed the stunning red sunset above the stadium that matched the drama on the pitch.

The Belfast Telegraph features a selection of pictures of that red sky from across Northern Ireland, including Windsor Park, the Albert Clock and the Giant's Causeway.

Perhaps the most unusual though is the sight of half of the Titanic Building turned a blood red colour.