Newspaper review: Doris, donors and royal approval

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Daily MirrorImage source, Daily Mirror
Image source, News Letter

"Doris the Destroyer" and the havoc she wreaked has captivated the picture editors of Friday's papers.

In Northern Ireland, the main casualty of this year's first named storm was a top tourist attraction made famous by the US TV show Game of Thrones.

"Doris day" turned out to be a dark day for the Dark Hedges in Armoy, County Antrim, according to the Daily Mirror.

Calamity befell one of its majestic beech trees which have lined "the King's Road" for more than two centuries.

However, all is not lost for the landmark, which draws tourists and fans of the show from all over the world.

Patrick Gregg, from the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust, tells the Irish News there are plans to replace storm casualties with new, six-foot beech trees.

Image source, Paul Morgan
Image caption,
The avenue originally comprised about 150 trees, which were planted more than 200 years ago

The Belfast Telegraph leads with the exclusive revelation of the identity of the mystery donor who "bankrolled" the DUP's pro-Brexit campaign last year.

The paper says DUP adverts were funded by a £425,000 donation from the Constitutional Research Council, which is chaired by a former vice-chair of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

Describing the campaign as a "great success", DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tells the paper his party has "gone far further" than others on donation transparency, and challenges other parties to reveal their donors.

Back to the future

Speaking of money, how much does it cost to feed a hungry crocodile for a full year?

The Irish News [£] leads with Sinn Féin's first formal estimate on the annual cost of implementing an Irish Language Act.

The party's Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has crunched the numbers and believes it would cost about £3.5m.

However, with the DUP warning the act could cost £100m a year, the gulf between the two former government partners is clear.

Inside the paper, the language theme continues, with a report that a Catholic church in north Belfast is set to offer a weekly Latin Mass. [£]

It's a case of back to the future for Saint Thérèse of Lisieux church, as Latin Mass was phased out by Vatican reforms in the 1960s.

The service is returning by popular demand, and a six-month trial will begin in Lent.

'Profound regret'

Amid heightened tensions and emotions over the conduct of Troubles killings investigations, many papers report on the frustrations of the coroner Adrian Colton.

He is tasked with examining events that became known as the Ballymurphy Massacre, when 10 people were shot dead by the Army over a three-day period.

The News Letter, and others, report the coroner's "profound regret" that a political row over funding is delaying the inquest process.

Efforts to track down the bombers who placed an undercar bomb underneath a police officer's car in Londonderry are also being hampered, says the Irish News.

The paper quotes sources close to the investigation saying detectives were still trying to identify the components of the device when it blew up.

The unexpected blast highlighted the dangers faced by Army Technical Officers to former soldier Doug Beattie from the Ulster Unionist Party.

He tells the Belfast Telegraph that the Army bomb squad should be awarded a medal for its efforts to keep the public safe.

The Queen may well take note of his request, as it seems she takes a keen interest in Northern Ireland affairs.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Michael O'Neill posed with his MBE after he was honoured by the Queen on Thursday

The paper says the monarch "revealed her support for the Green and White Army" as she presented Northern Ireland football manager Michael O'Neill with his MBE.

The manager said the Queen congratulated him on his team's performance in the Euro 2016 finals last summer.

"I said how it had been such a positive thing for Northern Ireland, and she was aware of that, and she said 'that was great and to just keep doing it'," said Mr O'Neill.