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NI newspaper review: Poleglass murder dominates front pages

By Niall Glynn

image copyrightPacemaker
image captionPolice at the scene of the murder of Raymond Johnston

The murder of a man in west Belfast dominates Wednesday's front pages.

The victim, Raymond Johnston, was shot dead at a house in Glenbawn Avenue in Belfast's Poleglass estate on Tuesday night.

The Irish News says that a woman and several children were in the house at the time and that Mr Johnston had been cooking pancakes for the children before answering a knock at his door.

It says the victim, originally from Crumlin, County Antrim, was then shot.

A friend of Mr Johnston tells the Daily Mirror that he was on the scene within minutes and tried to save him but that there was nothing he could do.

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image captionMr Johnston was shot dead at a house in Glenbawn Avenue

The Belfast Telegraph says that Mr Johnston is believed to have had a young son and that children in the house witnessed his killing.

It says friends of Mr Johnston paid tribute to him on social media, with one saying: "Absolutely horrible. Rest easy Ray Johnston, you were a great friend and gentleman."

While the News Letter has the murder on its front page, the lead story is DUP leader Arlene Foster ruling out a stand-alone Irish language act.

Mrs Foster said rumours about what Irish language legislation might look like if there is an agreement were "not grounded in reality".

She says there will be no compulsory Irish in schools, no bilingual street signs and no quotas in the civil service.

'Stumbling block'

The other papers cover the political developments - or lack of - inside.

The Belfast Telegraph quotes a "Stormont insider" who says that there had been a reversal of the momentum that had brought a deal close at the start of the week.

"Irish language act still the stumbling block as hopes of a deal diminish" is the paper's headline.

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image captionArlene Foster has said there will be no stand-alone Irish language act

In the Irish News, John Manley says "it looks increasingly likely that it was the DUP that kyboshed the deal" and says it is is believed that many DUP members were unhappy when they were told some of the details of a deal to restore devolution.

He says for Mrs Foster to to carry out media interviews while negotiations are continuing suggests the DUP leader is "feeling the pressure".

Diamond anniversary

As it's Valentine's Day a series of happy couples tell the papers how their love has endured over the years.

Special mention goes to Coleraine couple Danny and Dorothy McBride who will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in April.

A nurse at the care home where they now live says Danny "is always checking to make sure Dorothy is happy and their devotion to each other is clear to anyone who spends even a short time in their company".

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image captionCrowd-surfing is seldom associated with Presbyterian churches

When you think of crowd-surfing, Presbyterian churches are probably not the first place that would come to mind, however, they do things differently up in Newtownabbey.

The Belfast Telegraph has a series of pictures of the Rev John Dickinson being lifted up and passed on his back out through Carnmoney Presbyterian Church after a conference on Sunday night.

Rev Dickinson said thankfully the spontaneous crowd-surf went smoothly: "They didn't drop me, I'm still here."

Tiger on the street

Finally the Daily Mirror reports on "wild scenes on the streets of west Belfast".

The picture accompanying the story appears to show a huge tiger sprawled out on the footpath of the unnamed street.

The papers says that while residents were initially "panicked and confused" the beast was a huge stuffed teddy - although it has to be said one that looks very like the real thing.

"Someone was clearly lion in wait with that prank," the paper adds.