Northern Ireland

NI Paper Review: SoS visit and a speedy train journey

front page of the News Letter Friday 26 July 2019 Image copyright News Letter

Northern Ireland's new secretary of state's first official visit leads the newspapers on Friday.

Julian Smith was appointed to the position on Wednesday, after the new prime minister sacked his predecessor Karen Bradley.

The MP for Skipton and Ripon most recently served as chief whip of the Conservative party under the leadership of Theresa May.

The News Letter reports Mr Smith will meet all five parties on Friday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Friday marks the new secretary of state's first official trip to Northern Ireland

They are expected to discuss Brexit as well as the ongoing talks process which is aimed at restoring the assembly at Stormont.

Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive collapsed in January 2017 following a bitter row between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy told the Irish News the problem was with the policy of the Northern Ireland Office "rather than the personality that fronts it".

"If Julian Smith continues to follow flawed and failed policies then he will fail like the previous incumbent and the one before that," he added.

Image caption NI has been without a devolved government since January 2017, when the DUP and Sinn Féin split in a bitter row

According to the Belfast Telegraph, an unnamed DUP MP told the paper Mr Smith was "a little dour" as an individual, adding he had a "fairly good working relationship" with him.

"He's certainly not got Boris's charisma or oratorical skills," the MP told the paper.

"He's low-key, the archetypal safe pair of hands."

MOT delays

In other news, delays in accessing MOT tests in Northern Ireland makes the front page of the Daily Mirror.

Around 1,000 extra inspections per day are reportedly being offered from September onwards in an attempt to tackle the issue.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Further tests have been made available to deal with the backlog

A Department for Infrastructure spokesman told the paper: "A further 9,000 appointments on Sundays and bank holidays in August will also be made available."

'Terrified for children'

"Someone will be 'hurt or killed' if Glider rioters are not stopped," reads the front page of the Irish News.

Young people are claimed to be using the service to carry out sectarian attacks in west Belfast - with most occurring around the Suffolk interface, reports the Irish News.

Image copyright Department of Infrastructure
Image caption The Glider bus became fully operational in September 2018 and links the east of the city to the west

The estate is made up of about 300 unionist homes, with residents saying the trouble began at the start of the school summer holidays.

Kirsty McCormic, who lives in the area and has two children, told the paper: "If I try to use the shop on the Stewartstown Road I'm having abuse and stones thrown at me.

"I can't even be terrified for myself because I've got two children to worry about."

A need for speed!

A Belfast school boy has broken the record for the fastest time taken to visit every train station in Northern Ireland, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Thirteen-year-old Ethan Turner made the most of the school holiday's on Monday and passed through all 54 railway halts in 11 hours, 59 minutes, 18 seconds.

The previous record was 13 hours 10 minutes.

Image copyright hamikus
Image caption There are 54 railway stops across Northern Ireland

It's not his first transport achievement however - earlier this year he became the first person to travel on all Belfast's metro routes.

His Dad David, who made the journey with Ethan, told the paper: "We were very lucky with our timing on the day.

"It was quite intense and our only long break was a 50-minute-stop-off in Bangor."

Adjourned

A County Down woman who held a senior position with a local dog welfare charity has been charged with using the organisation's credit card for personal expenditure, reports the News Letter.

Adriane Peltz, 34, of Beatrice Road, Bangor, has been charged with fraud by abuse of her position as campaigns manager at the Dog's Trust.

The defendant was not present for the hearing on Thursday and not yet formally entered a guilty or not guilty plea.

A defence barrister told Ballymena Magistrates' Court it was "an alleged breach of trust case" adding he didn't believe it was a case which would "trouble the court".

The case was adjourned until August.