Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Nesbitt on the floor, Foster U-turn?

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

How a senior politician came to be lying on the floor of a hotel, a change in the DUP's tone on Irish language and a "lone wolf" dissident republican make Northern Ireland's front pages on Tuesday.

The Belfast Telegraph says senior Ulster Unionists have rallied round former leader Mike Nesbitt after a picture of him appeared in The Sun newspaper.

The picture shows Mr Nesbitt lying face down on the floor of the Stormont Hotel in east Belfast.

While he did not reveal exactly what happened, he told the paper: "When you have a profile and you go out in public, you can't expect people to fully respect your privacy."

Mr Nesbitt's UUP colleague, Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie, tells the Belfast Telegraph that "people are standing by him".

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Tom Elliottt says, meanwhile: "There's no issues with it that I have heard."

'Lone wolf' dissident

The Irish News leads with the story of a US man who is believed to have taken his life after being investigated about his connections to "lone wolf " dissident republican Christine Connor.

Connor, 31, last week pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a police officer and other terror offences.

The paper says that Zacahary Gevelinger, from Wisconsin in the US, went missing last Wednesday - the day Connor was convicted - and was found dead on Friday.

Mr Gevelinger was questioned by the PSNI in June 2013 after he travelled to visit Connor at Hydebank prison having befriended her on Facebook, says the Irish News.

Connor's co-accused, English man Stuart Downes, took his own life last year while on bail.

Returning to political matters, the News Letter says that DUP leader Arlene Foster appears to have dropped her refusal to consider an Irish language act.

In February, at the launch of the party's assembly election campaign, Mrs Foster said the DUP would never agree to Sinn Féin demands for an Irish Language Act, adding: "If you feed a crocodile it will keep coming back for more."

However, asked at an election launch on Monday whether she still ruled out such an act she said: "I said there wouldn't be, in terms of nothing else happening, in terms of culture and language."

"We have been in negotiations for some time and we have been putting forward that we need to respect all cultures, including the Ulster Scots, the Orange, the British culture," added Ms Foster.

"If there are to be moves forward in terms of cultural tolerance and respect then it has to be in the context of doing that and we are very clear in relation to that."

The News Letter says that "contrasts starkly" to what Mrs Foster said in February.

In its editorial, the Irish News also says the change in Mrs Foster's tone is "striking".

Image caption The News Letter says there is a stark contrast between Arlene Foster's statements on a possible Irish language act

On its front page, the Daily Mirror says police are investigating separate sex attacks on two 17-year-old girls in St Columb's park in Londonderry over the weekend.

A 15-year-old boy has appeared in court over one of the alleged attacks, while a 20-year-old man has been arrested over the other.

Police say the incidents were not linked and that people should not be put off visiting the park.

'Great young lad'

The News Letter, Belfast Telegraph and Irish News all feature tributes to Dylan O'Kane, the 21-year-old killed in a car crash in Armoy, County Antrim.

Dylan's grandfather Hugh O'Kane tells the News Letter he was "a great young lad" and that the family is "completely gutted" by his death.

Bill Kennedy, who owns a filling station in the village, tells the Belfast Telegraph: "Dylan was a lovely young fella, the kind that would never walk past without speaking."

Homework ban

Finally Markethill Primary School in County Armagh seems to have the type of headmaster you dreamed of as a child.

The Belfast Telegraph says that principal James Richardson has written to parents to tell them that as lighter evenings come in, the school will no longer be setting written homework.

"Instead can we encourage you to inspire your children to get outside and to get active; to go for walks or cycles," says his letter.

The paper features Facebook comments from parents welcoming the move, with one saying: "This school has got the right idea" and another saying: "At last a school that understands children and family life."