NI weekly paper review: Shopping wars and vigilantes

Image source, Derry Journal
Image source, Ulster Star
Image source, Mourne Observer
Image source, Mid Ulster Mail
Image source, Ulster Gazette
Image source, Antrim Guardian

This week's regional newspapers cover a wide range of stories, from Budget repercussions and demands for regional investment in the north west, to paedophile hunting in Armagh and low hospital morale in Antrim.

Businesses in Londonderry have been fuming over a billboard that was erected in the city centre promoting a shopping centre in Belfast.

The Derry Journal reports that the large advertisement for Victoria Square (in Belfast) was removed from Waterloo Place (in Derry) shortly after local businesses objected to it.

Shopkeepers weren't objecting to people shopping around, but felt the billboard on their door step was a smack in the face for local business.

Image source, Kiera Duddy
Image caption, The ad for Victoria Square ruffled some feathers in Derry

Kiera Duddy, owner of the Pickled Duck, told the Derry Journal: "When I saw that, I thought: 'Would you get away with that in Belfast?'"

The Derry Journal also has an update on a potential government investment deal for the city.

The paper reports that a meeting between government officials and Derry and Strabane Council leaders could take place "as early as this side of Christmas".

'Well placed to take advantage'

In his budget last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a consultation on a city deal for Belfast.

The deal would allow the city to help businesses grow and decide how public money should be spent.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson believes the deal will also benefit the Lisburn and Castlereagh areas, the Ulster Star reports.

He told the paper he would ensure Lisburn is "well placed to take advantage" of the opportunity.

'We will destroy these people's lives'

"When these people cross me then I am coming for them, make no mistake."

That is the claim made by so-called paedophile hunters now operating in Armagh according to a report on the front page of this week's Ulster Gazette.

The paper carries an interview with James O'Neill from the group Silent Justice.

The group "patrols" online forums with members posing as decoys before confronting those suspected of grooming children live on social media, the paper reports.

In a statement the PSNI said that investigating this type of crime was their job and described Silent Justice as vigilantes, a label they reject.

Mr O'Neill told the Gazette that they did not take the law into their own hands and denied that what they do amounts to entrapment.

In other front-page news, the Ulster Gazette points out to its readers that it is the most widely read newspaper in its area.

Image caption, The entrance to H-6 inside the former Maze Prison

A South Down MLA calling for an event reminiscing about the Maze prison break out in 1983 to be cancelled is the lead story in the Mourne Observer.

The DUP's Jim Wells has slammed the event, billed as The Great Escape, as "grossly offensive".

It was due to take place due to take place in Attical Community Centre on Friday night.

Three former IRA men, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, Bobby Storey and Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane were to tell the story of how a total of 38 prisoners broke out of the prison in a food delivery van.

Image caption, We don't have the photo of Mr Twix, you'll have to buy the Mourne Observer for that, but he looks a little something like this

The Observer also has a little story, accompanied by a fabulous picture, about Mr Twix.

Mr Twix is a keen golf fan and is known to spent a lot of time on the fairways of the world famous Royal County Down golf course where he is popular with his fellow patrons.

Incidentally, Mr Twix happens to be a fox, and a fine looking renard to boot.

Image caption, The hospital cares for adults with an intellectual disability, behavioural or mental health problems

Hospital "insiders" told the paper that morale at the hospital was "plummeting".

The second story on the front page of the Guardian concerns local politics - but again it is one a wider audience might be interested in - the former UUP mayor of Antrim, John Scott, has joined its larger rival the DUP.

Mr Scott resigned from the UUP in August due to how the party dealt with one of its councillor who it transpired lived and worked in Dublin.

The Antrim Guardian points out that Mr Scott once hosted an event to mark Irish language week and even "gave a speech in Irish".

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