Northern Ireland

Weekly papers: Will Arlene go to Clones?

Tyrone and Donegal Reporter Image copyright Tyrone and Donegal Reporter
Colerain Chronicle front page Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle
Antrim Guardian front page Image copyright Antrim Guardian
Banbridge front page Image copyright Banbridge

Will she or won't she?

The Fermanagh Herald says Arlene Foster is "mulling" over attending the GAA Ulster Senior Football Championship on Sunday week.

The DUP leader congratulated the Fermanagh team on their "heroic win" over Monaghan in the semis and was even invited along to the final by player Ciaran McBrien.

Will she be in Clones this weekend? She tells the paper that she will "wait and see".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Will Arlene Foster head to Clones for the Ulster Final?

However, one unionist who won't be there is Tom Elliot.

The former UUP leader said that while he knew many of the Fermanagh players well, the GAA "ethos and culture isn't just about sport," and that is reflected within its rules.

Tributes to a "loving dad" who died in a tragic farming accident in County Fermanagh also make the front page.

Gerard Collins, 45, died after an incident involving a slurry mixer, reports the paper.

His neighbour Eddie Teague, who heard a commotion from the farm, said: "No one could have saved him."

"I remember him being born. He was very nice, quiet and modest and you couldn't ask for a better neighbour".

His sister Joan described him as the "main man in our family".

She said he was devoted to his wife and teenage children and the family are "heartbroken".

'Parking mad'

Next up - a "parking mad scheme" in the Antrim Guardian.

Council chiefs have been branded "barmy" for offering "perks" to staff willing to park farther away from their work, the paper reports.

The idea behind the scheme is that parking places are kept free for people attending conferences in council facilities.

A whistleblower told the paper: "On busy days if you park away from Mossley Mill you get 45 minutes off in lieu.

The paper says the council attempts a "heroic defence" of the scheme, saying the practice is a model of "financial prudence" which was not exploited by staff.

It explained that during conferences, the building can generate more than £145,000 in a year and therefore at these busy times staff free up space for attendees.

Young drinkers

The Coleraine Chronicle's front page has a shocking headline: "Ten-year-olds found drunk".

The paper reports that police in the town have called on the community to help stamp out the underage drinking problem in the town.

Insp Donna Bowden told the paper young children had been found drinking and called on the community to help.

Image copyright AndreasWeber/Getty
Image caption Drinking so young is like putting poison into their wee bodies," said Insp Bowden

"Everybody needs to take action. Drinking so young is like putting poison into their wee bodies," she said.

Insp Bowden was speaking at the launch of a film focusing on underage drinking - The Blame Game.

The film explores the growing problem of "the scourge of underage drinking" in the town.

'Raiders of the lost park'

Forget the lost ark - it's all about the lost abbey in County Antrim.

Image copyright Getty/skodonnell
Image caption A job for Indiana Jones?

Archaeologists have begun a survey of Antrim Gardens in Portrush.

According to the paper, locals have long believed that the town was an important religious centre in the medieval period.

In 2005 evidence of drains, stone walls, pottery and a cross were unearthed and now experts are hoping to compile a plan of the ancient building.

Archaeologist Nina McNarry has invited locals to come and watch the survey in progress.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for Portrush to learn about the unique heritage located right at the heart of the town," she said.

Image caption An ex-presbyterian minister has called on QUB to sever ties with the PCI

In the Banbridge Chronicle, a gay Christian challenges the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's (PCI) stance on same-sex membership.

Last week it adopted a new policy that means anyone in a same-sex relationship cannot be a full member of the Church.

It also severed ties with its Scottish counterpart over the same-sex marriage issue.

The decision has attracted criticism from some church-goers.

One unnamed man told the paper he challenged the view that embracing Christians in same-sex relationships was straying from "biblical truth".

The Banbridge man explained that his faith was important to him as was his "prayerful relationship with God and church attendance".

Image caption The Presbyterian church in Ireland's General Assembly took place in Belfast last week

The paper also has a counter view on this from Rev Colin Harris from Scarva Street Presbyterian Church.

He is adamant that that the bible defines marriage as being the union of a man and woman.

He added that his church remained inclusive and anxious to reach out to everyone.

In The Strabane Weekly News there is delight that a man from the County Tyrone town will represent Ireland in next year's Special Olympics.

Eugene McGeever, who is 42 and has a learning disability, "excels at football, basketball and kayaking", says the paper.

He works in the grocery department of a supermarket and won the "Sports Star of the Year with a Disability" award at the Derry and Strabane Sports Awards last year.

His mother Pat was delighted.

"Obviously I'm very proud of him," she said. "He's been kayaking for a few years and really enjoys that in particular,"

Good luck in Abu Dhabi, Eugene!

Road rage

In The Portadown Times we hear about a case of road rage that "could have killed a child".

The case centred on a lorry driver who punched a man in an incident captured on video.

Joshua Brian Dunkley, 24, of Knockaconey Road in Armagh admitted a charge of disorderly behaviour.

Craigavon Magistrates' court heard that the injured party was driving with his young daughter in his car.

The R-plated driver in front of him was driving at the legal 45 mph limit, when a lorry behind him tried to overtake, flashed its lights and sounded its horn.

The injured party stopped at the lights, at which point the defendant knocked on the window. When the driver emerged from the car, Dunkley punched him.

The defendant's counter-allegation was that the other driver had not allowed him to pass.

However, no allegation of assault was levelled as it was accepted the injured party had got out of the car "aggressively" and a punch was thrown at Dunkley who struck him in retaliation.

The judge said it was "horrific behaviour".

"This person was left with a bleeding mouth and a child had to sit and watch this," she added.

Lights on in Portadown

Also - a headache for environmentally conscious folk in Portadown.

Residents of some streets in the town have been "astonished" to find that their street lights are on day and night.

They tell the paper that despite "repeated calls" to Transport NI in the past year, nothing has been done.

One resident says: "This has gone on long enough; my question is how long does it take to fix?"

Image caption Will it ever be lights out in Portadown?

But there is light at the end of the tunnel for concerned locals.

The Department for Infrastructure told the paper that it has been working in conjunction with NIE.

It said work should be taking place over the next three weeks to fix the fault.