Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland political crisis fail to capture attention in rest of UK

By Sophie Inge

The Stormont crisis is headline news here - but not so much elsewhere in the UK.

Northern Ireland stands on the brink of its second election within less than a year following a major political crisis that threatens devolution. But outside the province, the issue is not having much impact.

Brexit was the biggest story for most UK papers, while others focused on the crisis in the health service, Donald Trump and even a former Spice Girl.

Only the Sunday Times devoted part of its front page to the situation in Northern Ireland, with a column headlined 'Sinn Fein won't rush candidate selection' - second only to a story on Trump's plan for a summit with Vladimir Putin in Reykjavik.

This was followed by a generous page 11 story headlined 'Up in Smoke', in which commentator Newton Emerson asked whether Sinn Fein and the DUP could still save Stormont.

The paper also featured a comment piece by Justine McCarthy titled 'DUP clings to old values while rest of the north looks only to the future'. "The mistake Arlene Foster has made is assuming nothing has changed; that conservatism and unionism continue to go hand in hand," McCarthy wrote.

The Sun on Sunday, meanwhile, led with a scoop on Victoria Beckham's attempt to block the Spice Girls reunion tour. A tiny article on page four about a petition being launched calling for a public inquiry into the 'cash for ash' scandal completed its coverage of Northern Ireland.

But that was still more column inches than in the Sunday Mirror and the Mail on Sunday where it wasn't deemed newsworthy at all. Not even the Irish Daily Mail covered the story, and nor did The Sunday Express.

The Guardian, however, carried a Brexit-related Northern Ireland story online titled: "Brexit border 'would make sitting ducks of Northern Ireland police'."

Media commentator Malachi O'Doherty described the downplaying of the story as "bad judgment" by the national media.

But he added: "They have heard us cry wolf so often, they don't really believe there is a crisis - but this time there is.

"We're entitled to believe collapse of devolution would be a story - if devolution was about to collapse in Wales or Scotland it would be.

"But I think we have sickened people by wailing about our woes, as there is a crisis practically every year."

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