Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Terror Marine jailed; fake mayor

News Letter Image copyright News Letter

The "bizarre" back-story of Royal Marine turned dissident republican bomb maker, Ciarán Maxwell, takes up most of Tuesday's front pages.

He has been jailed for 18 years after stockpiling one of the most significant arms caches in recent years.

The Daily Mirror quotes a senior PSNI officer admitting that if a member of the public had not spotted one of the hides, Maxwell may never have been caught.

The News Letter says the case raises serious questions for the armed forces.

"How did he get away with it?," the paper's headline asks, alongside a photo of a smiling Maxwell posing with cannabis plants he had grown.

The case is likely to lead to changes in military recruitment and monitoring, Ulster Unionist MLA and Army veteran, Doug Beattie, tells the News Letter.

Image caption Ciarán Maxwell was a former lance corporal in the Royal Marines and was to be promoted

The Irish News takes a different angle on the story, pointing out that Maxwell will serve more time in prison than the combined punishment given to three soldiers who were convicted of murder during the Troubles.

The paper's security correspondent, Allison Morris, describes the Larne man's story as "bizarre, even by Northern Ireland standards".

'Compulsory rainbows'

Elsewhere on its front page, the Irish News speculates that Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar "may attend" Belfast's gay pride festival.

The paper says he is expected to visit Northern Ireland later this week - his first trip over the border since taking the top job.

At Dublin's gay pride parade in June, Mr Varadkar vowed to campaign for same-sex marriage rights across the island of Ireland.

Image copyright PA
Image caption At Dublin Pride in June, Leo Varadkar said he would use his office to promote gay rights

Meanwhile, the Alliance Party is facing questions after one of its party workers posed as the lord mayor of Belfast for a Facebook poke at the DUP.

The Belfast Telegraph says Micky Murray posted a photo of himself, standing in the Lord Mayor's Parlour, wearing the chains of office.

"My first act as First Gay of Belfast is banning the DUP from the city and making rainbows compulsory," he joked.

The Alliance Party declined to comment when contacted by the paper, but its leader Naomi Long was among 450 Facebook users who "liked" the post.

The DUP said the post insulted their voters and Belfast City Council confirmed it has received a complaint.

'Our wood goes... your vans go!'

Ongoing controversy over republican anti-interment bonfires burns on in Tuesday's papers.

A photo of threatening graffiti, aimed at contractors removing materials from dangerous bonfires, appears in the Belfast Telegraph.

"Our wood goes... your vans go!!! Take at your own risk," warns a sign daubed on a wall in the New Lodge Area of Belfast.

Sinn Féin tells Irish News that the New Lodge bonfires were built close to homes and a nursery unit, adding that threats against workers are "completely unacceptable".

Staying in the north of the city, the Belfast Telegraph leads with a claim that Stormont lost £1m in "needless land deals".

The paper says land was bought for a limited stock of social housing in predominately Protestant areas, despite lengthy waiting lists in predominantly Catholic areas.

Most of the land was acquired before the 2007 property crash, but Stormont bought one site for £90,000 in 2014 and sold it for £20,000 last year - a £70,000 loss.

'Breastival plans'

Efforts to support breast-feeding mothers have led to plans for Belfast's newest festival - aptly named 'Breastival'.

The Irish News reports the one-day event will be staged in the Metropolitan Arts Centre (Mac) on Saturday.

Campaigner Dr Jennifer Hanratty tells the paper that breastfeeding is "biologically normal and it needs to become socially and culturally normal again".

She added: "It's part of everyday life, so why not shout it from the rooftops with a big celebration?"

In Crossgar, County Down, heartless thieves have really taken the biscuit by stealing an "honesty box" sign belonging to a young man with special needs.

Star baker Ryan Bogue sells cookies from the honesty box outside the driveway of his parents' home.

The 23-year-old, who has Down's Syndrome, raises about £900 a month for charity with the baked goods, according to the Daily Mirror.

But the overnight theft of his sign has caused him "a lot of upset and hurt".

The PSNI has shared the family's story and appealed for the sign to be returned.