Northern Ireland

NI weekly paper review: Halloween and a winning tree

Wednesday's Sentinel Image copyright Londonderry Sentinel
The Fermanagh Herald Image copyright Fermanagh Herald

The countdown to the annual Halloween festival is well and truly on if the Londonderry Sentinel is anything to go by.

The Sollus school of highland dance brighten up the front page.

The Bready-based dance group are going through rehearsals and final preparations ahead of the big parade on 31 October.

Georgina Kee McCarter is director of the dancing school and she says she is "delighted" to have choreographed a piece for the Halloween parade.

"It is brilliant to see the dancers so enthusiastic about performing during this year's carnival."

There is good news for the North West Regional College (NWRC) as they secured €1.26m (£1.1m) of Erasmus funding.

The funding will allow staff and students to study and work across Europe.

Image copyright Colmcille Pipe Band
Image caption Some of the Colmcille Pipe Band performed at the Discover Ulster-Scots centre

The paper reports that it is the highest funding figure received by any college in Northern Ireland.

The Londonderry Sentinel also looked back at Blackthorn Pipers Society meeting in Belfast earlier this month.

The meeting, at the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, had performances from the PSNI pipe band and others.

The Hasson family from Londonderry, who are also known as the Colmcille Pipe Band, were special guests.

Brian Hasson senior, his wife Angela and their five adult children also performed at the event.

'A standout tree'

In County Down, the Mourne Observer reports that the cost of constructing greenways connecting Newcastle to Downpatrick and Downpatrick to Comber could cost up to £15m.

Studies were carried out for each greenway by Copius Consulting and presented to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in March 2017.

According to the paper the report highlights the fact that considerable parts of the proposed greenways are now in private ownership.

"The landowners initial reaction to the plans was generally one of resistance", the report added.

Inside the paper, members of Arboretum Regeneration Castlewellan (ARC) were celebrating as Annesley Garden's tree won the Woodland's Trust Northern Ireland tree of the year.

Beating other regional finalists, the 160-year-old multi-stemmed tree is now in the running to be named the UK tree of the year.

Anne Irwin from ARC tells the paper they are "absolutely delighted" with the support for the "standout tree".

"We would like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to vote," Ms Irwin added.

Image copyright Rodney Edwards/ Impartial Reporter
Image caption The car was set on fire outside the family's bedroom in County Cavan on Wednesday night

The Fermanagh Herald leads with the attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings company director Dara O'Reilly.

Mr O'Reilly's car was petrol bombed, and the blaze was so intense it caused serious damage to his home where his two children were sleeping at the time.

Image copyright Rodney Edwards/ Impartial Reporter
Image caption Bedroom windows were damaged in the arson attack

It is believed to be the second arson attack on staff at Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) in the past two months.

Former billionaire Sean Quinn previously owned the business and was once Ireland's richest man, but he was declared bankrupt in 2012.

Mr Quinn strongly condemned the attack saying those who were carrying out such acts were "not doing it in the best interests of the Quinn family".

Gridlock

Lisnaskea health centre was like a "cattle mart" last Saturday when people turned up to get their flu jab, according to the Fermanagh Herald.

The paper reports that people flocked to get the annual vaccination.

Locals described how the elderly and children were "queued out the door".

Cllr Victor Warrington, who gets the jab every year, told the Fermanagh Herald that he didn't think the gridlock was down to poor organisation, but rather it highlighted poor health facilities at the centre.

The Lurgan Mail reports on a funding boost of almost £7m to "breathe new life" into the town.

Almost £2m will come from the National Lottery, with another £2m from Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, and the rest from property owners and public bodies.

The head of the heritage lottery fund Paul Mullan said: "This heritage-led regeneration will transform Lurgan's historic streetscape, helping to attract new residents and businesses".

Image copyright Lurgan Mail
Image caption Ariel view of Lurgan town centre

Also in the paper is widespread condemnation over a "sickening, disgusting and racist" banner which was draped over a motorway bridge.

Police say they removed the "No Irish, No Gay" sign made from a bed sheet, from the bridge between Moira and Lurgan.

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd said the sign was "reprehensible" and was "racist and homophobic".

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie branded the sign "disgraceful and distasteful".

The Larne Times leads with a police appeal to end paramilitary attacks.

"End the poison of punishment attacks" reads the headline.

The paper points out that five beatings were reported to police in Mid and East Antrim in the last 12 months, compared to 17 beatings and two shootings during the previous year.

A spokesperson for the PSNI in Larne said: "We'd like to think this activity is confined to Belfast and Londonderry, but these sort of punishment by arrangement attacks have taken place in Larne".

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Media captionThe ad tells the story from the points of view of those involved - the victim, his mother, the gunmen and a witness.

It comes as the PSNI launch a campaign against the attacks.

The adverts show a reconstruction - a tearful mother drives her son to an appointment, in which he is to be shot in both legs by masked men.

Inside the Larne Times is a look ahead to the new beef and lamb championships.

The inaugural event, organised by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS) will take place in the Eikon centre on 27 November.

The event will include the showing of beef cattle and lambs during the day, ending with an auction in the evening.

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Media captionRUAS are also behind the annual Balmoral Show

The beef cattle will compete for the Allams cup and the lambs will take part in the best butcher fair.

Last year's Allams cup winner Keith Williamson told the paper that he was "overwhelmed" to win the Allams cup twice when it was held at Balmoral and is looking forward to the event at the new venue.