Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Everyday's a Brexit day

Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

Brexit is, yet again, dominating the UK news agenda and that is certainly the case with Northern Ireland's newspapers.

"I want to assure unionists there's no hidden agenda," is the headline in the Belfast Telegraph.

It is based an article penned by Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar, billed as an exclusive.

The newspaper tells us it comes amid claims that Brexit has "damaged relationships".

Mr Varadkar also promised nationalists that they "will never again be left behind by an Irish government".

The Telegraph's editorial says that Mr Varadkar has made a welcome step towards building bridges with unionists after their relationship with Dublin was strained by the Brexit negotiations and the Republic's stand on any future hard border.

There are deep disagreements of what last week's deal actually means for the post-Brexit border however.

Image caption Ian Paisley says the Dublin government "overstretched" itself in the Brexit negotiations

In the News Letter, the DUP's Ian Paisley has boasted Mr Varadkar has been "done over" by the DUP, the UK government and the EU.

He made the comments after the Brexit secretary David Davis said the deal was a "statement of intent" rather than a legally binding deal.

The News Letter juxtaposes Mr Paisley's view with the more reserved reaction of his party leader Arlene Foster on the formula of words used to find a way to progress to the next level of the talks.

The News Letter's editorial says that if the agreement between the UK and UK is legally binding, which is the view of the Irish government, then that is "alarming".

It says that "Friday's agreement is far better than last Monday's version, but it certainly no cause for celebration".

TUV leader Jim Allister, writing in the Belfast Telegraph unsurprisingly takes a quite different view from those of his former colleagues in the DUP.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jim Allister has reservations about the UK-EU Brexit deal on the Irish border

He writes: "I fear it means that our birthright entitlement of full two-way enjoyment of the UK internal market is to be trumped by the obsession with no Irish border. If so, we have been betrayed".

Incidentally, a different side of Mr Allister's personality is revealed in a lifestyle interview with the paper - he reveals that he is only angry when he needs to be and that he delights in the company of his grandchildren.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Leo Varadkar is trying to maintain relations with both nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland

The Irish News also leads with a Brexit related story - an open leader signed by "influential figures in northern nationalism" aimed at the taoiseach.

The letter urges Mr Varadkar to reassure them of his commitment to "stand for equality and a human rights based society and [his] determination to secure and protect the rights of all citizens in the north of Ireland".

It says that Brexit is threatening to "reinforce partition" and "revisit a sense of abandonment as experienced by are parents and grandparents".

The letter states that the signatories are "committed to human rights" and cherish their Irish identity.

Image caption Peter Canavan is one of a number of sports people who signed an open letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Boxer Paddy Barnes, footballer James McClean and solicitor Peter Madden are among the 200 signatories.

The Irish News editorial is aimed squarely at the DUP - saying it supported Brexit because it was a project "quite literally wrapped in Union flags".

The paper says the attitude the DUP displayed towards the Irish language meant that nationalist consent for devolution became "unsustainable".

It also says the the DUP's deal with the Conservative government in Westminster has become a major impediment to political progress.