Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Murder probe and £6,000 rugby tickets

Tony Blair Image copyright PA
Image caption Tony Blair features on the front page of the News Letter

A murder inquiry in County Armagh, the political pressure cooker at Stormont and former Prime Minister Tony Blair make the headlines in the daily newspapers on Friday.

Two men and a woman have been arrested after a 29-year-old man was found dead at a house in Manor Drive in Lurgan.

The Belfast Telegraph and Daily Mirror report that the victim was a father-of-two.

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has told the Irish News that the British government will not release money for Troubles inquests until agreement is released on all legacy issues.

It follows on from his announcement on Thursday that there could be another election if the political parties cannot forge a deal within three weeks.

Image caption There is a murder investigation following the death of a man in Lurgan

This point is picked up on by the Mirror which says Mr Brokenshire's letter to MPs warns that if no agreement is reached between the parties "there would be significant consequences".

"There would be no Executive, no real budget, no Programme For Government and risks to public services," he adds.

There is also some political heat on the front of the Belfast Telegraph as former Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson lashes out at party leader Mike Nesbitt after she lost her seat at the election.

She claims Mr Nesbitt's revelation that he intended to give the SDLP his second preference vote served as a "get-out-of-jail-free" card for the DUP.

"I think he was right to stand down," she adds.

Image caption Jo-Anne Dobson says she is devastated after losing her seat in the assembly

Tony Blair has experienced a few Northern Ireland political talks in his time and he is the focus of an army widow's anger on the front of the News Letter.

Former DUP MLA Brenda Hale said Mr Blair's presence at the unveiling of a memorial in London dedicated to those who served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars was akin to "walking on the graves of the troops".

Mrs Hale's husband, Captain Mark Hale, died in August 2009 after being caught in an explosion while helping an injured colleague.

Image caption Mrs Dobson is critical of Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt in the Belfast Telegraph

The Irish News says there is fury at plans for a St Patrick's Day parade in Lisburn featuring a band named after a loyalist jailed for his part in a gun attack in Craigavon in which three people were murdered.

It says the Noel Clarke Memorial Flute Band will take part in the parade which organisers say is to counter the annual celebrations when "the streets are filled with shamrocks and tricolours".

Clarke was jailed after pleading guilty to hijacking a van used by the killers in the March 1991 attack on a mobile sweet shop in the Drumbeg estate. He died in 2012.

Rugby tickets

The News Letter also reports on comments made by the chair of the inquiry into the botched Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Sir Patrick Coghlin says there is a "huge amount of material" to be obtained and considered and that it will take longer than six months to conclude.

Finally, if you are still looking a ticket for the Ireland v England rugby international next weekend, you might have to settle for a seat in front of the television.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Dublin clash is a sell-out and that some tickets are being offered for more than £6,000 on the black market via resale sites.

The Irish Rugby Football Union has warned they can trace people trying to cash in on tickets.

"Our advice to fans is clear: do not purchase tickets from unofficial sources," a spokesman said.

"All tickets issued through official IRFU channels are traceable to the individual purchaser."