Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Lorry death reaction and unionist rivalry

News Letter Image copyright News Letter
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Reaction to the DUP conference and a Troubles pension dispute are among the stories featured on Monday's front pages.

Meanwhile in the Irish News the paper reports one of the suspected victims of the Essex lorry deaths was warned by her family not to travel illegally to the UK.

Pham Tra My, 26, has not been in contact with her family since sending a text message on Tuesday saying she could not breathe.

Police later found the bodies of eight women and 31 men in the refrigerated trailer of a lorry in Grays, Essex.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The bodies were discovered in the early hours of Wednesday

The lorry driver, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson from Craigavon, is due to appear in court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter.

Three other people who were arrested in connection with the deaths have been released on bail.

The newspaper carries comments by Pham Tra My's father, had said he urged his daughter not to make the journey to the UK.

'I'd never let her go'

Pham Van Thin told Sky News: "She said that if she didn't go, the family would stay in a very difficult situation because of big debt."

He told CNN that smugglers had said the crossing was "a safe route" and that people would go by aeroplane or car.

He said: "If I had known she would have gone by this route, I'd have never let her go."

Image caption Steve Aiken has been an assembly member at Stormont since May 2016, when he was elected to represent South Antrim

The News Letter reports that DUP leader Arlene Foster has accused the UUP of giving seats to Sinn Féin after the party ruled out a pact with the DUP.

Incoming UUP leader Steve Aiken has said the party will not stand aside in any Westminster constituency.

The newspaper speculates that this will make it more difficult for Nigel Dodds, DUP deputy leader, to retain his Westminster seat in the next general election.

Mr Aiken said his party will stand in all 18 Westminster constituencies, unlike the situation in the last two general elections.

Mrs Foster responded by saying the UUP leader was "prepared to put in jeopardy seats and allow them to go to Sinn Féin."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The bombing was carried out by the Real IRA just months after the Good Friday Agreement was signed

Next the Belfast Telegraph, where a woman whose brother died in the Omagh bombing has said victims of the atrocity must receive a Troubles pension.

Claire Monteith criticised Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith over an "insensitive" and "hurtful" proposal which would limit such a pension to those injured from 1966 to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.

Ms Monteith said she feared victims of the Omagh bombing in August 1998 will now face another injustice.

The Omagh bombing killed 29 people and injured 220 more. No one has ever been convicted in a criminal court of the attack.

She told the newspaper: "We have been denied out loved ones and any normality of life in the aftermath. We have been denied justice and closure.

"Now we are facing denial of the very fact we are victims of an atrocity which claimed more lives in a single incident during the terrorist campaign."

Image caption The DUP leader at her party conference

Finally the Daily Mirror reports that Arlene Foster told the DUP conference that removing the petition of concern at Stormont could only come as part of a wider restructuring of the way powersharing government works.

The petition of concern is designed to protect one community from legislation that would favour another.

Any vote in the assembly can be made dependent on a petition of concern if it is supported by 30 MLAS - meaning the motion will only pass if it has cross-community support.

But it has been controversial and parties on both sides of the assembly chamber have been accused of misusing it.

Mrs Foster has previously voiced desire to get rid of the petition of concern mechanism, if other parties agree to change.

Mrs Foster also said the public would rather see the assembly restored as soon as possible, rather than "navel gazing" and starting to re-negotiate the devolved system of governance.