Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Electoral pacts mulled by NI parties

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

The possibility of electoral pacts dominates Thursday's newspapers.

The News Letter and the Irish News both lead on the possibility of a nationalist pact ahead of the general election on 8 June.

The Irish News tells its readers that Sinn Féin and the SDLP have already held talks at Stormont to discuss the possibility. The paper says Sinn Féin's northern leader, Michele O'Neill, met SDLP leader Colum Eastwood on Wednesday.

The Irish News points out that the SDLP has traditionally dismissed electoral pacts as "sectarian headcounts", but suggests Sinn Féin pressure on their three seats may be influencing the party's thinking.

Mr Eastwood has identified the "anti-hard-Brexit cause" as possible common ground between his party and others, but maintained the SDLP was not interested in "sectarian pacts".

The News Letter's front page headline -"SDLP's crossed wires on pacts for election" - points out that Mr Eastwood's stance is at odds with that of South Down MP, and former SDLP leader, Margaret Ritchie.

Ms Ritchie told the BBC on Wednesday that the SDLP "do not do electoral pacts".

The Belfast Telegraph also looks at the issue: "Unionists could do a deal on SIX seats" is its lead story.

The paper says unionists are "set to meet within days to discuss their most comprehensive election pact ever".

The Telegraph also carries remarks from Colum Eastwood, who on Wednesday accused Theresa May of throwing a "grenade" into the talks process with her shock election announcement.

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Media captionWatch Martin McGuinness' resignation statement in full

In other news, the Irish News points out that it is now 100 days since the late Martin McGuinness resigned as Deputy First Minister, pulling down Stormont's power-sharing executive.

The paper devotes no less than eight pages to the former IRA leader's legacy.

Former IRA bomber Shane Paul O'Doherty accuses Mr McGuinness of telling a "whopper of a lie" about his paramilitary past. But commentator Denis Bradley says the former education minister's focus remained a united Ireland and that he had left Sinn Féin in a "win-win situation".

Unionist analyst Alex Kane says Mr McGuinness' influence "changed the face of Northern Ireland politics", while ex-Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay writes that his former Stormont boss "changed our society for the better".

Nelson McCausland, the former DUP MLA turned political commentator, writes an opinion piece for the Belfast Telegraph asking: "Why is it that the British Broadcasting Corporation is often unrepresentative of the country it is intended to serve?"

He goes on to accuse the corporation of being disproportionately liberal, and asks what the BBC is doing to redress this "influence".

'Marge, I'm going to Moe's!'

Away from the world of politics, the Belfast Telegraph reports that whilst church organists are still in demand, changes in religious services could see that change.

The paper says there is still a need for traditional organists, and particularly for those who can play the organ along with praise bands, which are popular with many modern churches.

A local organ builder has warned a lack of trained organists could lead to a vicious circle, with more churches using bands at the expense of tradition organ-led music.

And finally, The Irish News brings us the story of how south Armagh business woman Lisa McMahon is adding Moe's Tavern from The Simpsons to her "inflatable" pub collection.

She also plans to launch a replica of the bar from The Quiet Man following talks with Disney, the paper reports.

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Image caption The Daily Mirror's lead reveals up to 100 guns have been stolen in Larne in the last six years