Northern Ireland

Clinton tribute and razor blades in swing

Image copyright North Belfast News
Image copyright Newtownards Chronicle

Local papers are not known for posting A-List celebrities on their front page, but the Ulster Gazette "Trumps" the rest with an image of Hilary Clinton and local councillor Sharon Haughey-Grimley.

It covers her reaction to news that Mrs Haughey-Grimley is to retire from politics to spend more time with her young family.

"Shock as SDLP councillor stands down from politics" reads its front-page headline.

Mrs Haughey-Grimley has been known to the Clintons since President Bill Clinton read out a letter she wrote to him as a 14-year-old whilst on a visit to Northern Ireland in 1995.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Sharon Haughey-Grimley, pictured here with President Bill Clinton, has stepped down from politics to care for her family

She worked with Hillary Clinton in Washington after leaving university and Mrs Clinton even describes Sharon as her "good friend" in her autobiography, the Gazette reports.

The pair had an opportunity to renew acquaintances when the former secretary of state was on a visit to Dublin last Friday.

Cllr Haughey-Grimley told the Gazette that, alongside her full-time work with the GAA, her council work meant that she was away from home 50 hours a week and she feels that "it's now time to slow down".

Newry Democrat

Anti-social behaviour features heavily in some of the other local newspapers this week.

"Stone throwers playing Russian Roulette" is the headline in the Newry Democrat.

It says teenagers are playing with the lives of drivers at the Camlough Road roundabout in the city, throwing stones and bottles down on passing cars from the overhead bridge.

Image copyright MaYcaL
Image caption Drivers are being targeted by young people throwing bottles and bricks onto cars from an overhead bridge

Last week, a police vehicle was damaged in one such attack.

SDLP councillor Michael Savage called on parents to speak to their teenagers. "It is dangerous, potentially life-threatening and can lead to a serious criminal record," he said.

"These young people need to stop and think about what they're doing. It only takes a brick to go through the window of a car with a young baby in a car seat to cause a fatality.

"I would ask them how they would feel if one of their family members was hit by this flying debris that is raining down on vehicles."

Image copyright skhoward
Image caption Vandals inserted razor blades into the rope on a swing in Coleraine

The Coleraine Chronicle stays with the theme of anti-social behaviour: "Playing with the lives of kids," is their headline this week.

The paper quotes UUP Councillor William McCandless, who said a concerned parent had alerted him to "razor blades inserted into the rope surround" of a swing at a playpark in the Millburn area of the town.

Vandals also ripped up the shock absorbing floor of the play area.

"Just imagine what injuries could have been caused to a child grasping the rope. Lacerated hands or, in the worse case scenario, an artery severed," he said, before asking: "What sort of person could have done that?"

Bandstand

Moving slightly south, the Ballymena Guardian is celebrating the imminent launch of the town's newest "iconic structure", a bandstand which will host weekly entertainment on Saturdays over the summer.

Although there is some doubt about the actual launch date: "A draft opening programme for the bandstand proposes July 7 as the launch date on the condition that the work is completed on time."

The outdoor events, says the Guardian, should "increase commercial activity for traders and shoppers and inspire local talent to utilise the area for performance".

Scooter hijack

A disabled man who was pushed off his mobility scooter by a thief features on the front page of the North Belfast News.

The paper reports that Malcolm McCormick has learning difficulties, is unable to walk and is partially sighted.

He was on his scooter in Custom House Square when he says that he was shoved off, the keys were stolen and the thief drove away.

Image caption The tower blocks in the New Lodge, Belfast, are more than 50 years old

"Why would you take something off someone with a disability? I need it to get about from A to B. It has been very difficult, I've been stuck in the house since Thursday evening," he tells the paper.

Inside, the paper reports on proposals to demolish seven tower blocks in Belfast's New Lodge.

The Housing Executive wants to hear the views of the flats' residents.

The blocks are more than 50 years old and the executive estimates it could cost £308m to refurbish them over the next 30 years. They would prefer to replace them.

Image copyright Getty Images

The Newtownards Chronicle reports that more than 90% of burglaries in Ards and North Down last year remain unsolved.

Out of 423 burglaries, just 37 were solved, Violet Brown reports.

PSNI district commander, Superintendent Brian Kee said burglary offences were difficult to detect because they happened when people were out.

He said police officers were making house-to-house inquiries, carrying out CCTV trawls and working on fingerprints and DNA to help catch burglars.

Image copyright Newtownards Chronicle
Image caption Children from Abbey Primary School with Janet Clements and her dog, Angel

Inside, the paper reports on how dogs are making a difference to children's reading skills at Abbey Primary School, Newtownards.

Children who are having difficulty reading can read to Angel, a golden Labrador who is a fully registered Pets as Therapy dog.

It's the second year that the Reading with Dogs programme has been used in the school which reports that the children have benefitted, improving in fluency and confidence.