Northern Ireland

NI newspaper review: Lyra McKee accused and Julian Smith sacked

Paul McIntyre, the man charged with the murder of Lyra McKee, raises his arms as he arrives at Londonderry Magistrates' Court on 13 February 2020 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Paul McIntyre raised his arms as he was brought into Londonderry Magistrates' Court

The man accused of journalist Lyra McKee's murder is pictured on the front of all Northern Ireland's papers on Friday.

Paul McIntyre, 52, from Londonderry, has been charged with murder, possession of a firearm and membership of a proscribed organisation - the IRA.

The Daily Mirror says that Mr McIntyre is accused of picking up bullet casings after Ms McKee was shot dead.

Scuffles broke out ahead of Thursday's court hearing.

While Mr McIntyre is pictured on the front of both the Belfast Telegraph and News Letter, both focus on the departure of Secretary of State Julian Smith.

"Dismay at Boris' Smith power play" is the News Letter's headline.

It says the sacking of Mr Smith has been branded a "disastrous" decision that "defies logic".

The paper also reports on the ongoing inquest into the 1976 Kingsmills massacre on its front page.

A lawyer for families said there had been a "distinct failure" by the inquest to deliver justice for the "sectarian genocide" by the IRA.

The Belfast Telegraph says that new secretary of state Brandon Lewis had previously pledged that there would be no border down the Irish Sea after Brexit.

It adds that government sources dismissed claims that Mr Smith was sacked because of Downing Street's unease at legacy proposals contained in the New Decade, New Approach deal.

Instead they pointed to tensions with Boris Johnson's de facto chief of staff Dominic Cummings.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Brandon Lewis has replaced Julian Smith as secretary of state

It's not good news for the Republic of Ireland's voters in The Irish News.

The paper says that there is a growing prospect of another general election in the Republic.

This follows Fianna Fáil ruling out speaking to Sinn Féin about the possibility of forming a coalition government.

Fine Gael has already signalled that it does not want to be a junior coalition partner or to support Fianna Fáil in a confidence and supply arrangement.

Irish News political correspondent John Manley says that the prospect of Sinn Féin playing a role in the Republic's next government has become less likely, but that the possibility of a a new election has increased.

The paper also reports that plans have been submitted to redevelop the former Bank of Ireland headquarters in Belfast's Royal Avenue.

The five-storey listed building has been vacant since 2005.

Image copyright Andrew Abbott/Geograph
Image caption There are plans to redevelop the former Bank of Ireland headquarters in Belfast

The plans include a hotel, offices and apartments, as well as retail and eateries.

Several of the papers report on the death of a man in Tollymore forest park.

The Daily Mirror says police are not treating it as suspicious.

The Belfast Telegraph says that a County Fermanagh grammar school has taken disciplinary action against students after social media posts containing "derogatory" and "vicious" false rumours about staff and other pupils were posted on social media.

Elizabeth Armstrong, head teacher of Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, revealed on Thursday she was taking action after the discovery of "offensive" messages on Instagram.

The paper says the police are aware of the posts that have now been removed.

WWII soldier's relatives sought

Finally the News Letter says that the discovery of bloodied British Army trousers and a Royal Ulster Rifles cap badge in a Dutch attic has sparked an international search to find a wounded soldier's relatives.

The items - along with an empty morphine ampoule and an unfired bullet - were found in the village of Blitterswijck, about 60 miles south of Arnhem.

They belonged to Rifleman H Ravenscroft, who researchers believe had been one of the soldiers who liberated the village from the Germans in 1944.

Andy Glenfield, who operates the Second World War in Northern Ireland Facebook page, has been asked to help the Dutch homeowner return the soldier's belongings to his surviving family.