NI paper review: Wrightbus near miss and border poll Brexit warning


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The Belfast Telegraph reports a dispute over rent scuppered a potential deal to save Wrightbus

A mix of stories make the front of Friday’s papers after a week dominated by Wrightbus and Brexit.

The lead in the Belfast Telegraph follows on from the collapse of the Ballymena bus builder and the near miss to secure a deal to save the company.

It reports negotiations with a Chinese company, believed to be Weichai, came close to completion – but were scuppered by annual rent of around £1m.

It says a separate company owned by the Wright family owns the site, and would have received the rent.

Wrightbus collapsed on Wednesday, resulting in about 1,200 employees being made redundant.

‘Nothing out of the ordinary’

Inside, the paper has a heart-warming story about a supermarket worker who went above and beyond the call of duty.

David Vance, a customer service assistant at Lidl in east Belfast, stepped in after a pensioner had his card declined and paid for the man’s shopping.

The incident was witnessed by Karen Gibney, who shared it on her Facebook page, resulting in the act of kindness going viral.

Mr Vance told the paper he enjoys working with customers, “especially when they might need a little help”.

“I didn’t think I did anything out of the ordinary,” he said.

“I just noticed one of our regular customers needed a hand.”

‘Get this right’

Friday’s Irish News focuses on comments made by Lord Jonathan Caine, a Conservative party peer and his party’s longest-serving special adviser on Northern Ireland.

“As someone who believes in the union, I was primarily concerned about the impact this [Brexit] would have on nationalism and ultimately therefore on political stability in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland,” said Lord Caine.

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Lord Caine, who is from Leeds, started working for the Northern Ireland Office in the 1990s

He said he believed a referendum on Irish unity, if held in the near future, would fail – but that this could change with a hard border.

“The onus is on the UK government and the EU to get this right,” he said.

‘Immense courage’

The front page of Friday’s News Letter leads with the headline “Police welcome jail for paedophile ex-officer”.

Raymond Keith Lindsay, a former senior PSNI officer, was convicted after propositioning a young girl in a caravan park.

The 61-year-old, of Moygashel Park, Moygashel, admitted offences that took place at Castlewellan Forest Park in July 2018.

PSNI Det Con Micky Meehan said the girl’s family should be commended for seeing the case through the criminal justice process.

“Throughout this difficult time they have displayed immense courage and fortitude.”

‘Deeply tragic’

Inside Friday’s Daily Mirror, there is a story about the wait being faced by cancer patients receiving urgent referrals.

It states that almost half of cancer patients referred urgently by their GPs wait at least 62 days for treatment, according to the latest figures.

“It’s an appalling and deeply tragic situation,” said Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs, his party’s health spokesman.

He added every time cancer figures are released there is a “collective sigh of disbelief right across Northern Ireland”.

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