Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Loyalist feud, Stormont talks

Shooting Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption George Gilmore was critically wounded while sitting in his car on Monday

The News Letter, Irish News and Belfast Telegraph all lead with the gun attack on a man described as a high-profile loyalist in Carrickfergus.

The victim, named as George "Geordie" Gilmore, was critically injured on Monday afternoon.

The shooting is being linked to a long-running loyalist feud in the town.

The papers report he posted a message on Facebook shortly before the attack, saying: "The days of the UDA putting people out of Carrick are over."

Inside, the Belfast Telegraph says that rival loyalists crowd came face-to-face after the shooting with tension high in the town.

The Irish News says there was a heavy police presence in Carrickfergus on Monday night amid fears of possible reprisals and that officers wearing tactical gear carried out raids.

Prison officer attacked

The Mirror leads with an attack on a female prison officer at Maghaberry Prison.

It says she was slashed on the face, jaw and neck with a make-shift blade, with a source telling the paper she was attacked shortly after telling a prisoner to tidy his cell.

Monday's gun attack pushes political developments off the front pages and inside the papers.

Neither the Belfast Telegraph nor the News Letter is impressed by events at Stormont on Monday.

"After seven weeks, MLAs back in Assembly chamber... for 45 minutes," reports the News Letter.

The Telegraph says: "MLAs clock in for 45 minutes then promptly head home".

Blue skies at Stormont

However, The Irish News says the Irish foreign minister hailed the parties' "positive attitude" during talks.

In keeping with his more positive outlook, Charlie Flanagan is pictured at Stormont beneath Monday's clear blue skies.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Charlie Flanagan praised the positive attitude of the parties

On a much less positive note, all four papers report that a family support service in Belfast that works with hundreds of vulnerable children and their families has been told it must close on 31 March.

Some 47 members of the Intensive Family Support Service will lose their jobs as its funding is being cut.

Also expressing concern about the political impasse at Stormont is the Equality Commission's Dr Michael Wardlow.

He tells the News Letter: "Any significant delay in restoring devolution means that important outstanding equality matters will be incapable of being progressed."

The Belfast Telegraph features an interview with Belfast grandmother Karen Boucher, who has been told she must wait 95 weeks for an "urgent" hospital appointment.

Ms Boucher, who fears she could have cancer, says no politician would have had to wait so long.

Bonfire concerns

The Irish News says concerns have been raised about bonfire materials being dumped at a site in an Antrim housing estate months before the 11 July loyalist bonfires.

It follows similar concerns being raised about material dumped on the site of the £40m Connswater Community Greenway in east Belfast.

Finally, Strabane has a new claim to fame, says the Belfast Telegraph.

Over the last 12 months, the County Tyrone town's residents have bought more garden gnomes than any other Northern Ireland town, according to supermarket chain Asda.

This very much bucks the trend, as apparently Northern Ireland's gnomes have been going through a tough time recently - their population halving between 2005 and 2015.

It seems for Strabane, gnome is where the heart is.