Belfast News Letter front page Wednesday 31 MayImage copyright News Letter

Dramatic pictures of a major fire which ripped through several businesses in a busy Ballymena street feature in most of the papers.

The News Letter says nearly 60 firefighters were called to the blaze, which started in Woodgreen Furniture store on Broughshane Road about 17:00 BST on Tuesday.

The fire spread to a number of adjacent firms, including an estate agents and solicitors.

Eugene Diamond, who owns a newsagents on the street, told the paper: “It’s heartbreaking to see businesses that have contributed so much to Ballymena over so many years, destroyed in a matter of minutes.”

Another picture which appears in all the papers is that of Thomas Scott McEntee, who appeared in court on Tuesday charged with the murders of an elderly couple at their home in Portadown, County Armagh.

The court heard Mr Entee, 40, from Kilkeel, County Down, had “mental health difficulties” and had been under supervision while in police custody following his arrest.

‘Brazen’

The smiling face of Sarah Lee-Anne Reid beams out from the front page of the Belfast Telegraph.

The 20-year-old from Magheraknock, near Ballynahinch, died in Croatia on Friday.

The Irish News says the former Friends’ School pupil was found unconscious outside a nightclub in the busy tourist resort of Hvar and suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to hospital.

Her family paid tribute to their “precious daughter” and “loving and much-loved” sister and granddaughter.

The paper’s front page carries a plea from the rector of Clonard Monastry after children set off a flare inside the west Belfast church, causing damage to an 100-year-old shrine.

Fr Noel Kehoe said those responsible were “completely brazen” and urged parents to monitor their children’s whereabouts after this latest attack on the church.

The paper’s editorial says the level of anti-social behaviour in the Falls Road area continues to cause “deep concern”.

“It seems that no-one is off limits to the young thugs and no place is regarded as sacred,” it says.

‘Scum’

The Belfast Telegraph has an exclusive interview with the mother of Colin Horner, who was murdered in front of his three-year-old son in a Bangor car park on Sunday. The paper is full of pictures of Mr Horner at various ages.

Mrs Horner said her son was “killed because he stood up to paramilitaries” and he had been “trying to build a better life for his young family”.

She said the 35-year-old had been subject to “three death threats” and she described his killers as the “scum of the earth”.

Mrs Horner reveals that his son, who witnessed the shooting, thought his “daddy had tomato sauce splattered on him”.

There’s a general election around the corner, and there’s plenty of political coverage in the papers.

The News Letter’s main story is about Secretary of State James Brokenshire, who “delivered a coded but blunt message to the dominant parties within unionism and nationalism” while launching the Northern Ireland Conservatives’ manifesto on Tuesday.

Speaking to the paper, he said if the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin could not agree a new power-sharing deal in the next 29 days, they would be “passing the baton” to Westminster to run Northern Ireland.

‘Same boy’

The Belfast Telegraph says the SDLP wants a border poll after the Brexit negotiations.

The party launched its manifesto on Tuesday and its leader Colum Eastwood also launched a “stinging attack on republican abstentionism” and predicted republican voters were prepared to switch allegiances over Brexit because Sinn Féin MPS don’t take their seats in the House of Commons.

The best headline of the day is probably the Daily Mirror’s “Rovers Return”, which is not about the fictional pub in the ITV soap Coronation Street but rather a joyous tale of a dog owner reunited with his squirrel-loving pets.

Thomas Crowe lost his Jack Russells, Fudge and Spot, after they raced off during a walk in Clare Glen, County Armagh, last Wednesday.

Spot was discovered on Sunday wandering around the glen but Fudge was still stuck down a badger hole, and it took two hours for a fireman and passer-by to dig him out.

“I reckon Spot maybe got out of the hole earlier,” Mr Crowe said. “He’s grand now, though, and I’d say the same boy would run off after squirrels again.”

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