Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Penitent Paisley and security data breach

Front page of the News Letter on Friday Image copyright News Letter
Image caption Front page of the News Letter on Friday

An MP's public apology, a prime minister's visit and claims of a major police data breach feature in the daily newspaper headlines on Friday.

The News Letter reports that DUP MP Ian Paisley was uncharacteristically "penitent and embarrassed" as he apologised in the House of Commons after failing to declare two luxury holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

It says the North Antrim MP quoted the Biblical prophet Isaiah and insisted he had "no ulterior motive for that genuine mistake".

Mr Paisley said: "The eighth century prophet Isaiah said 'You were angry with me; that anger has turned away. You comfort me.' I hope to learn that lesson."

The Belfast Telegraph also has Mr Paisley on its front page and says he appealed to his North Antrim constituents to keep their faith in him as he apologised.

It also focuses on the DUP officer board who is to meet next week to discuss the House of Commons Standards Committee's report. It is expected a disciplinary panel will then be established.

Suzanne Breen says it is "highly unlikely that the panel would expel Mr Paisley given his family pedigree" and believes "suspending him from the party for a time-limited period would seem to be the most likely outcome in the current circumstances".

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Theresa May is on a visit to Northern Ireland

The Irish News leads with claims that a major police data breach has resulted in the personal information of hundreds of private citizens "put in the hands of suspected loyalist paramilitaries".

It says the digital files, including email passwords, were unintentionally given to loyalists subject to investigation by the Paramiltary Crime Task Force.

It adds that the information, running to thousands of pages, is understood to have been on a pen drive accidentally left in a computer device which had been removed for forensic examination before being returned to its owner.

A police spokesperson said that "no report of this nature has been made through the PSNI's incident reporting and security standards which are in force for all staff and officers to follow".

The Irish News reports that although it has seen some of the data, it is not in possession of it, and does not intend to make public any of the private information.

Image caption Daniel O'Donnell is among the acts expected to perform for Pope Francis when he visits Ireland

Prime Minister Theresa May is prominent on the front pages of the Belfast Telegraph and the Daily Mirror as she visits Northern Ireland.

The Telegraph says Mrs May will tell the EU on Friday that the ball is in its court if it wants to prevent a hard border after Brexit.

It says the prime minister will also use a speech in Belfast to dismiss any EU backstop plan that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK.

"Belleek Outlook" is one of the headlines in the Mirror as it references Mrs May's visit to County Fermanagh on Thursday.

It says she "looked close to cracking at a pottery factory" but vowed she would "protect jobs and livelihoods".

Mrs May said her trip had given her an opportunity to hear about people's "day-to-day experience and what having no hard border means to their business".

Image caption Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government since the power-sharing institutions collapsed in January 2017

The only centre in Northern Ireland training Catholic seminarians for the priesthood is to close, according to the News Letter.

St Malachy's Seminary on Belfast's Cliftonville Road has been the Down and Connor seminary since it was founded in 1833.

The story is also covered in the Irish News as it indicates Daniel O'Donnell and Nathan Carter are among 2,000 performers, including a 1,000 strong choir, being lined up to perform for Pope Francis when he visits Ireland next month.

Finally, despite Stormont being in mothballs, it appears our politicians may be on the verge of a unique achievement.

The Daily Mirror says Northern Ireland is close to breaking the world record for the longest time a developed country has been without a government.

Website howlonghasnorthernireland-nothadagovernment.com is counting down the days and notes the tally is now 550 days with only 40 to go to pass Belgium.

Belfast comedian Jake O'Kane has tweeted his own take on the cost of the political deadlock:"Never in the field of politics has so much been paid, by so many, to so few, for so little."