Northern Ireland

Newspaper review: Kenny steps down, shootings stepped up

News Letter front page Thursday 18th May Image copyright News Letter

Reaction to two resignations are taking up plenty of print space in Thursday's papers - Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Enda Kenny and Barra McGrory, director of the Public Prosecutions Service.

The Irish News says the "race is on" to succeed Mr Kenny as the leader of Fine Gael, with Irish government minister Leo Varadkar the bookies' favourite.

The paper also looks at Mr McGrory's decision to step aside, with him saying that he was not forced from the position because of "legacy issues".

The outgoing prosecutions chief had faced criticism for going ahead with cases against Army soldiers implicated in Troubles-era killings. However, he said: "If all of the legacy controversy had not happened we would still be having this conversation."

In its editorial, the Irish News pays tribute to both Mr Kenny ("a remarkable political career") and Mr McGrory ("it is to his credit that he was determined to maintain the independence, impartiality and integrity of his office and not be derailed by the unwarranted criticism").

Image caption Enda Kenny has been taoiseach since 2011

The News Letter also focuses on Mr McGrory's departing vow with the headline: "I've absolutely not been forced out by my critics."

Elsewhere, another big story doing the rounds is about paramilitary shootings - latest figures from the PSNI indicate the number of incidents has doubled in the last year.

The News Letter reports that 25 of the 28 paramilitary shooting incidents were carried out by dissident republicans.

The story is also carried in the Daily Mirror, Belfast Telegraph and Irish News, with the Mirror focusing in on the story in its editorial: "It is a stark reminder of a practice many of us hoped was rooted firmly in the past."

Elsewhere in the Daily Mirror, the paper reports more shocking details on the murder of Connie Leonard by her former partner Peadar Phair, who also took his own life.

It says that Ms Leonard's "crazed ex" texted her on the morning of the attack to "trick" her.

Image caption A floral tribute placed outside the house where Connie Leonard lived

A source told the paper: "Phair told her in a text that the whole thing was over and they wouldn't have any more arguments after Monday."

It added: "The text may have come as a relief to Connie because she'd been tortured by him for months and she was exhausted.

"But now we know that was not how the text was intended... when he said it was over he meant everything was over, including her life and maybe even his own."

Meanwhile, the front page of the Belfast Telegraph focuses on the tragic death of a boy who collapsed and died while at a funfair and the "chances missed" to save his life.

Bradley Logan died from a rare heart condition in 2015; an inquest into his death has heard he was taken to hospital twice after collapsing in the weeks before, but doctors were unable to detect the problem.

Bradley's father Mark described the loss of his son as "absolutely horrendous".

"The bad days are bad and the good days are bearable. It hurts. Our other children (Ben and Brooke) are suffering."

'Wonderful discovery'

Finally, the paper says that a long-lost masterwork by Belfast-born artist Sir John Lavery could fetch up to £54,000 at auction.

The painting, A View of Fez, was last seen in Boston in 1926 but its reappearance has been hailed by Professor Kenneth McConkey, Lavery's biographer, as "a wonderful discovery".

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the painting is even more significant as it was created during an expedition to Morocco in 1919. Lavery was joined on the trip by none other than Winston Churchill.

The painting goes under the hammer next Wednesday, so start looking down the back of the sofa for a spare £50,000 if you want to own a slice of history.