NI newspaper review: Bonfires, compensation and direct rule

  • Published
Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding
Image caption,
Both fly-half Paddy Jackson and centre Stuart Olding deny the allegations

Bonfires, compensation for child abuse victims and direct rule make the headlines in Wednesday's papers.

Three of Northern Ireland's papers lead with a story about two Ulster and Ireland rugby stars facing prosecution for offences relating to allegations of rape.

The Belfast Telegraph, Daily Mirror and News Letter each have a picture of Paddy Jackson, 25, and Stuart Olding, 24, on their front pages.

Both men deny the allegations.

The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby said the players have agreed that they be relieved of their duties and obligations until the conclusion of the legal process.

Another man is to be charged with a sexual offence and a fourth man is to be charged with intent to pervert the course of justice.

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Peter Robinson said abuse victims have been made to wait an "inordinately long" time for state compensation

Former first minister, Peter Robinson, has written in the Irish News calling for victims of institutional child abuse to receive compensation.


In January, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry recommended payments to survivors of abuse at children's residential homes.

Due to the collapse of Northern Ireland's devolved government, the implementation of the report has been delayed.

Mr Robinson wrote: "The victims of institutional abuse have waited an inordinately long and unacceptable time for the truth to be revealed, recognised and a measure or reparation to be made.

"I urge the secretary of state to consult with the parties about this issue and assess whether, at least on this outstanding matter, there is sufficient consensus to proceed in all or part with the implementation of the HIA report."

Image source, BBC
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The grant is given to low-income families to help pay for school uniforms

The Belfast Telegraph reports "parents' joy" after the Department of Education (DE) reversed a decision to cut £3m from the school uniform grant scheme.

The grant is given to low-income families to help pay for school uniforms.

It is understood that the grants will now remain at 2016 levels.

The announcement has been welcomed by Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton who said: "The previous announcement should never have been made."

Sinn Féin's Karen Mullan also supported the u-turn, stating: "This news will provide some reassurance to parents as the processing of applications normally takes place in August."

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James Brokenshire should implement direct rule, the TUV leader said

In the News Letter, the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party, Jim Allister, calls for the implementation of direct rule. from Westminster.

'Bull by the horns'

His comments are in response to Michelle O'Neill's interview in the Irish News in which she said "there will be no compromise on Sinn Féin's key demands for the restoration of a Stormont executive".

Mr Allister said such demands made it unlikely that power-sharing would be restored in the near future and called on the secretary of state to intervene.

"We are heading for direct rule by stealth," Mr Allister told the paper.

"My own view is that (James Brokenshire) should just take the bull by the horns and do it properly rather than creeping direct rule," he added.

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Jim McVeigh said Sinn Féin is only opposed to bonfires which could damage homes or play parks, or cause offence

A senior Sinn Féin member has called for a fund to be established to help unionists "learn about their culture and to stop burning dangerous bonfires", reports the Daily Mirror.

West Belfast councillor, Jim McVeigh, said his party is "not opposed to all bonfires, but we are opposed to bonfires on play parks, or beside people's homes or that [have] any of these hate crimes associated with them".

Mr McVeigh admitted that when he was a boy, he used to collect wood for republican bonfires, to mark the anniversary of internment in August every year.

However, he said it was recognised that bonfires were causing problems in the community, so the annual West Belfast Festival was set up as an alternative.

Mr McVeigh suggests that central government, local councils and other agencies contribute to a fund to help the loyalist community move away from dangerous bonfires.

"Learn about your history, have debates, show films, take people down to the Boyne, take kids away to do kayaking, etc.

"Do all of that, but you don't have a nasty, directly environmentally-damaging bonfire right in the middle of a public amenity to put stuff on it to offend people," he added.