Northern Ireland

D-Day for DUP; Star Wars meets May and allegations of vote fraud

Mirror Image copyright Mirror
News Letter Image copyright News Letter

There's a hint of Sesame Street about the front page picture caption on Tuesday's Belfast Telegraph.

The paper goes for a headline with all the Ds, proclaiming that it is "D-Day for a Deal with the DUP" as talks between Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster get under way.

But the main front-page story concerns allegations of vote fraud from Londonderry. It follows Sinn Féin's historic victory over the SDLP with a margin of just 169 votes.

The paper carries a photograph of Patsy Doherty from Derry who says that he turned up to vote only to find that somebody had already done it for him.

"I am so annoyed. I want to know who stole my vote," he tells the Belfast Telegraph.

SDLP assembly member Mark H Durkan calls it "deeply troubling". The paper says police are investigating the allegations and says the SDLP is due to meet the head of the electoral office later on Tuesday to present evidence from constituents.

Star Wars

The Mirror opts for a mock-up picture of Theresa May, casting her as Princess Leia from Star Wars complete with trademark plaits and guarded by a pair of storm troopers.

"May the farce be with you," reads the headline as the paper reports that the Queen's Speech and Brexit talks are "up in the air" as Mrs May gets set to negotiate with the DUP.

There are puns a-plenty inside, the headline above a picture of the prime minister's new cabinet proclaims: "Throne into chaos".

The writer states that she "forced a smile at the first meeting" of her cabinet. Another headline reads Marching Orders? amid reports on fears about what kind of demands the DUP may make and whether these could include rulings on controversial Orange parades in Northern Ireland.

'Trouble ahead?'

The Irish News reaches for a weather metaphor to describe the political turmoil.

"Storm clouds over Stormont growing" reads the front-page headline.

Inside, there's a quaint literary allusion as Arlene Foster is labelled the "darling buddy of May".

Beneath that headline, commentator Fionnuala O'Connor remarks that neither of the two women in the spotlight is a "whizz with words" and picks up "a little wounded yelp" at the end of one of Mrs Foster's "proud declarations that the DUP is eager to plays its part in saving the nation".

That yelp, she says, was "clearly about the sudden, unflattering focus on association between the party and loyalist paramilitaries, on Ian Junior being repulsed by homosexuality, Sammy et al's climate change denial, Mervyn and others' insistence that the Lord created the Giant's Causeway a blink of historical time ago."

'Throne' by DUP deal?

The News Letter carries a front-page photograph of the Queen, crown on, perched on the golden throne and set to get on with that speech. But press the pause button. It is not happening just yet.

"DUP deal may delay Queen's speech" reads the front-page heading as the paper's political editor Sam McBride reports that the "extraordinary outcome" of the general election could delay the Queen's speech to parliament.

If the state opening of parliament is delayed, then the Queen may have to miss part of Royal Ascot, one of her favourite annual events, he says.

"The monarch particularly looks forward to heading to the Berkshire racecourse each June," says the paper.

You can almost hear Dexy's Midnight Runners trilling: "Come on Arlene" in the background.

Inside, the News Letter quotes David Trimble, one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement. He dismisses any notion that the DUP-Conservative deal would undermine the 1998 peace process. The paper quotes from a Radio 4 interview where he says: "There's some people who spend their time dreaming up moonshine."

'We're all goin'...'

Meanwhile, the summer holidays are a mere flip flop away.

But Irish News columnist Leona O'Neill is not walking on sunshine.

"I look upon organising a trip away with two teenagers and two small children in much the same way as I would gaze upon the letter from the dentist telling me I'm due a filling or, indeed, root-canal treatment," she writes.

Last time, she says, at the end of a week in the Wicklow Mountains complete with grouchy teenagers surgically removed from their wi-fi and a late night poltergeist, there was talk of divorce on the way home and various children swore they were going to live with granny.

Roll on those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer.