Northern Ireland

Weekly newspapers: 'River of filth' and angry birds

Ballymena Guardian Image copyright Ballymena Guardian
County Derry Post Image copyright County Derry Post
Tyrone Consitution Image copyright Tyrone Consitution
Mourne Observer Image copyright Mourne Observer
Ulster Gazette Image copyright Ulster Gazette
Fermanagh Herald Image copyright Fermanagh Herald

A "river of filth", a spate of gorse fires, an apparent attempt to poison sheep and why you shouldn't get too close to a buzzard are among the stories in Northern Ireland's weekly papers.

Gorse fires have been big news this week and the Tyrone Constitution says firefighters have been working at full stretch dealing with blazes across the area.

"Fires wreak havoc" is the paper's front page headline and it says that a "huge inferno" at Mullaghfad Mountain near Fivemiletown is believed to have been started deliberately.

A 55-year-old man was arrested and questioned by police investigating gorse fires in the area. He was later released on bail pending further enquiries.

Image copyright Tyrone Constitution
Image caption Firefighters tackle one of the area's gorse fires

A call for a safety assessment of a Carrickmore road also features in the paper, following a two-car crash that left five people - three of them teenagers - injured.

The crash happened on the Drumnakilly Road last week.

"This particular stretch of road has seen numerous accidents in the past, so an assessment of additional safety measures is needed," said Mid Tyrone councillor, Barry McNally, who added that he had contacted Transport NI.

Dirty water

The Ballymena Guardian leads with the story of a "river of filth" at a beauty spot in the town.

It says NI Water is to carry out an emergency inspection of a sewer flowing into the River Braid near the Ecos Centre.

It follows reports of human waste floating in the river while children swam in it during recent good weather.

The paper also reports on plans for a memorial to 42 World War Two refugees from Gibraltar who died while living in camps in Ballymena and Broughshane between 1944 and 1948.

About 2,000 evacuees came to the Ballymena area from Gibraltar during the war.

It is proposed that a memorial rock cairn containing 42 stones, possibly taken from the sites of the camps, could be placed in the town's Cushendall Road cemetery.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has indicated some stones from the Rock of Gibraltar could also be sent to Ballymena and incorporated into the design, the paper says.

The Fermanagh Herald features an inquest into the tragic death of Derrygonelly father of four Damian McGovern.

Mr McGovern, 47, died after being injured by a hand-held circular saw he was using to cut a concrete slab which was suspended from a telehandler.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Thomas McCullogh urged people to adhere to safety guidelines, telling the inquest: "We're not there as the big bad wolf.

"We are there to help people act in a safe manner. Our first priority is prevention."

401 previous convictions

Elsewhere in the paper, is the court case of a 38-year-old man with 401 previous convictions who has been jailed for nine months for breaking into a Roslea bar on consecutive mornings.

Benny McCullagh, of Main Street, Sixmilecross, stole a cash dispenser containing £1,000 in the first raid and two poker machines and more cash in the second.

The Mourne Observer says that Downpatrick and County Down Railway is fast becoming a favourite with film crews.

The latest production to be filmed at the railway is the pyschological thriller The Woman in White, starring Ben Hardy of Eastenders fame.

Other films and TV dramas shot on location at the railway museum include Doctor Who, The Wipers Times and An Innocent Abroad.

Bad-tempered buzzards

Meanwhile, the paper also contains a warning about buzzard nests in a local forest.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Don't mess with nesting buzzards

It says signs have been put up at Donard forest in Newcastle warning people about the dangers of disturbing the nesting birds of prey.

There were several reports of the birds attacking walkers, climbers and joggers who got too close to their nests two years ago, the paper adds, with some of the victims suffering deep cuts from talons.

Good news in the County Derry Post, as it says a Maghera schoolgirl, who suffered serious head injuries when she was hit by a car after getting off a school bus, is recovering.

Mary O'Neill, 11, has been described as a "true fighter". Mary, and her 14-year-old brother Fintan, were involved in the accident outside Toomebridge on 17 January.

While Mary remains in hospital recovering, Fintan has been discharged and has returned to school on a part-time basis.

Image copyright County Derry Post
Image caption Mary O'Neill was able to leave hospital for a few hours after suffering serious head injuries

However, the paper says the local community were heartened last week to hear that Mary felt well enough to leave hospital to visit the family home for a few hours.

The paper also features an appeal for government funding for a thatched roof of a cottage in Magilligan, or to allow the roof to be altered.

Seacoast Cottage has been home to Edward and Eileen Quigley for more than 70 years, It has no electricity, heating or running water.

The thatched roof of the 300-year-old cottage collapsed into the house's bedrooms during a winter storm in late 2014.

The cottage is believed to be the last one in Ireland that is thatched with marram grass and as the cottage is a listed building the family could face fines, or even prosecution, if they make alterations to the roof without the proper approval.

Attempted sheep poisoning

Farmers are warned on the front page of the Ulster Gazette after an animal water drum was spiked in an apparent attempt to poison 50 sheep in County Armagh.

"Barbaric beyond belief" is the paper's headline and the story says white spirit is believed to have been used.

"I don't know why someone would want to do something like this," said the farmer who was targeted.

"The barrel's out of the way, it's hidden from view, so you would have to go out of your way to find it."

Image copyright Presseye
Image caption Freedom for Ronnie - Portadown FC legend receives council honour

Page 8 of the paper is devoted to Portadown FC legend Ronnie McFall who has been awarded the freedom of the borough by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

McFall was manager of Portadown from 1986 until 2016, winning four league titles among more than 20 trophies during his time in charge at his hometown club.