Northern Ireland

NI newspapers: H&W lifeline; Queen ban; bonfire concerns

News Letter Image copyright News Letter
Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

A bonfire in Belfast, the removal of royal portraits from a government HQ and an offer to "rescue" the Harland and Wolff shipyard lead the papers.

The Irish News says youths in the New Lodge have set up camp to "protect" an internment bonfire and boasted about stockpiling petrol bombs to defend it.

Some of them posted social media photos of themselves, lounging on sofas around the bonfire, waiting on take-away food.

They are also playing computer games by plugging consoles into a lamp post.

"Newlodge lads with a beatbox, TV and Xbox, grub on the way and most importantly, petrol bombs at the ready," the group's message read.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption North Belfast youths are playing dangerous games, says the Irish News

Bonfires are lit in some republican areas to mark the anniversary of internment on 9 August 1971, but the Irish News says they have "little support among the public and are opposed by Sinn Féin".

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker tells the paper that anti-social behaviour is "terrorising" the New Lodge community.

'No job losses'

The Belfast Telegraph leads with an offer from a US-based investor to take over the troubled Harland and Wolff shipyard in east Belfast.

Michael Flacks is originally from Manchester but he leads a Miami-based investment firm, the Flacks Group.

He told the paper he is prepared to buy the shipyard and move some of his firm's off-shore work to Belfast.

Mr Flacks said he is talking to the shipyard "with a view to completely take the company over with no job losses".

The paper says the businessman would not say how much he was prepared to pay, but confirmed that the shipyard's pension deficit was not a deal-breaker.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Harland and Wolff workers are protesting outside the shipyard's gates

The Daily Mirror says shipyards workers are hoping to lobby Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is visiting Northern Ireland on Wednesday, but are not hopeful he will come to the yard.

A union official tells the paper they will "follow him right around the province" if he refuses to speak to them.

"If he wants to go about waving the union flag and saying 'UK jobs for UK workers', we'll be saying, 'Boris, you're about to close one of the biggest facilities shipbuilding-wise in the UK and we're not going to stand for it," says Paul Beattie of the GMB union.

All portraits of the Queen have been removed from the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), the government's headquarters in Belfast, according to the News Letter.

The paper says the NIO "refused to explain why as a department of Her Majesty's government, it was refusing to allow the display of the head of state's picture".

Earlier this month, the House of Lords was told that a senior NIO civil servant received £10,000 in compensation after he complained about the presence of royal portraits in his workplace.

The News Letter says it understands that all photos of the Queen were removed from the NIO's home, Stormont House, during the 2017 General Election period.

The Daily Mirror's front page features a photo of UTV presenter Julian Simmons who speaks to the paper ahead of his attendance at this year's Pride parade in Belfast.

'Outrageous laugh'

It is not the first time he has joined the march, but this year he will be joined by his UTV colleagues "who are also taking part as official backers of the event", says the Mirror.

"About 15 years ago if you did the same thing it'd be a completely different story, because there was an air of hostility towards people who were gay but in my experience, that's not there anymore," the presenter says.

"It's one outrageous laugh and I can't wait to be part of it all again."

Just days before Northern Ireland's Pride parades, the Democratic Unionist Party's only openly gay councillor voted against flying the rainbow flag at her local council offices, reports the News Letter.

Image caption Alison Bennington would not speak about the flag vote after the meeting

Alison Bennington, who was elected to Antrim and Newtownabbey Council in May, voted against an Alliance Party motion to display the flag at Mossley Mill and the Antrim Civic Centre.

The motion was passed, despite all of the DUP's councillors voting against it.

The paper says Ms Bennington declined to comment after the vote, and would not even confirm what way she had voted, "despite the voted having been recorded during the public meeting".

A young family's trip to the seaside prompted a warning to parents about the dangers of modern technology, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

The paper says a man was arrested in Portstewart at the weekend after he was suspected of using "spyglasses" to film a young boy changing his clothes.

It speaks to a member of the public who called police after allegedly witnessing a man in a heavy coat holding glasses that had a "flashing red" recording light.

Police confirmed that a 64-year-old was charged with voyeurism and is expected to appear in court next month.