NI paper review: Tragic night for Co Antrim town and a royal visit

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Ballymena house fireImage source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
Fire crews were called to the house in the Staffia Drive area of Ballykeel Wednesday evening

Northern Ireland's front pages are dominated by the tragic news of a house fire and murder in the same Ballymena estate in County Antrim.

A 12-year-old girl died on Wednesday night during the blaze in the Staffia Drive area of Ballykeel, while another person was taken to Antrim Area Hospital for treatment.

A man was killed in a flat, also in Ballykeel on Wednesday, in what police described as a "vicious, sustained and violent beating".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, former mayor of Ballymena, Audrey Wales, said she was stunned by the news.

'Devastating'

"This community really must be in shock - this is two disastrous pieces of news in 24 hours.

"My heart, sympathies and prayers go out to the child involved and I hope that the community can be assured that they will get all the help they need from the local council," she told the paper.

Independent councillor Rodney Quigley told The Irish News he understood the fire started in the girls' bedroom.

"I know the family well. It's so sad, a young girl losing her life," he said.

TUV MLA Jim Allister told the Newsletter the community efforts on Wednesday were "commendable" and described the girl's death as "devastating".

Image caption,
Prince Charles met nurses and midwives at the Ulster Museum on Wednesday afternoon

The Irish News and Newsletter both feature pictures from Wednesday's royal visit.

The Irish News includes a picture of the Prince of Wales speaking to Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill at Hillsborough Castle.

Speaking after the meeting yesterday Ms O'Neill said she believed the royals had played "a positive role throughout the peace process at different times".

The Newsletter's headline reads: "Charles and Camilla fly in to help lift the coronavirus gloom."