NI papers: Failed Stormont deal dominates headlines

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Daily Mirror

The failure to secure a pre-Christmas deal to restore devolution at Stormont is the focus of most of the Northern Ireland papers this Friday morning.

The Belfast Telegraph carries the headline "DUP holding up Stormont deal", and quotes NI Secretary of State Julian Smith, who said he was "deeply disappointed" that all five parties are not in agreement, while urging the DUP to reflect on its decision.

"DUP blocking return of Stormont" is the headline in the News Letter, although its Morning View editorial reads: "Now, more than ever, it would be wrong to pay the Sinn Féin ransom."

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The NI secretary said he was "deeply disappointed" and urged the DUP to reflect on its decision

It writes that Julian Smith, "having never said anything at all about republican vandalism, is singling out the DUP for not agreeing to a return to devolution last night".

It adds that in light of "Sinn Féin's dreadful election result, it would be foolish to pay the ransom demanded in their political blackmail over the return of Stormont".

Meanwhile, Alex Kane, in the Irish News, explains why he feels a reform of the petition of concern - a key stumbling block in the talks - is necessary if Stormont is to succeed.

Image source, PA Media
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On Thursday Mr Smith met the parties to discuss NI's health crisis, as part of the overall process to restore devolution

"The mood music for the present talks seems a little better than it has been for some time, but there are huge decisions which need to be resolved and equally huge concessions/compromises which the DUP and Sinn Féin will have to make.

"Trying to avoid reform of the PoC would be very stupid. Concerning too."

Image caption,
Neurology is the treatment of brain conditions, including MS, Parkinson's, stroke and motor neurone disease

The long-delayed report into neurologist Dr Michael Watt revealed that almost all of those 617 patients subsequently had their diagnosis changed.

The Irish News also has a picture on its front page of 57-year-old road crash victim Noel Sweeney. The County Tyrone father of two and football coach died after his van was in collision with a fallen tree in Moy on Wednesday night.

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Twenty-year-old Christopher Meli was murdered in December 2015

The Mirror leads with details of the fatal assault on 20-year-old Christopher Meli in the Twinbrook area of west Belfast in 2015.

"Chris kicked 50 times like a punch bag," is the headline.

Belfast Crown Court heard on Thursday that the father-of-one was beaten by a crowd of up to 15 in a revenge attack during a pre-night of violence.

He died at the scene and a post-mortem concluded death was due to a blocked throat and inhalation of blood caused by facial injuries.

Eight defendants will be sentenced next month.

Festive cranes

Finally, a little 'lighter' news in the Belfast Telegraph comes in the form of the brightly shining Harland and Wolff cranes.

"Just a few weeks ago, it looked like the lights at Harland and Wolff could be going out forever, but now Belfast's famous cranes have been lit up as a symbol of hope this Christmas," it writes.

"Samson and Goliath are twinkling in celebration of the festive season."