Northern Ireland

Weekly papers: North coast wages soar; anger over GAA tickets

Tyrone constitution front page Image copyright Alpha
Down recorder Image copyright Down Recorder
Ulster Gazette front page Image copyright Ulster Gazette
Coleraine Chronicle front page Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle

If you've got a phobia of rodents look away now.

A story about "rats as big as cats" takes over the front page of the Down Recorder.

According to the paper, "terrified" residents on a Downpatrick street are being terrorised by a plague of rats.

Indeed, some residents of Church View have claimed that rats have invaded their properties and are gnawing through electric cables, resulting in power cuts.

Lillian Swaffield, who lives in the area, told the paper that rat droppings have been found in homes.

She said the issue needs to be urgently investigated.

Clanmill, the housing association that is responsible for the homes, said it had received a report about a pest issue in December but inspectors had found no evidence.

It said further investigations had taken place in January and that a pest-control programme had been put in place.

It added that inspections were ongoing and immediate action would be taken based on the outcome.

Image copyright Thankful Photography/Getty
Image caption Some Downpatrick residents have claimed that rats have invaded their properties

From rats in Downpatrick to a dirty problem the whole council area is having.

There is a "call for enforcement" as dog fouling is "out of control" in the Newry, Mourne and Down council area.

'Disgusting'

The issue is one of "the most complained about problems", according to the paper.

Mournes councillor Glynn Hanna said it is a massive problem that must be addressed.

"If we want dog fouling addressed across our district we need to resource the council properly with staff," he added.

He puts the "disgusting" example of one south County Down school principal who has asked the caretaker to check children's shoes before they come into school.

That is to remove the dog dirt and stop it being carried through the school, as the problem has become so bad.

Council officials say they're "determined" to get to grips with it and have already tried to deal with it.

However, the paper adds, the biggest problem is the attitude of some dog owners who are "prepared to turn a blind eye to potentially harming children" who come in contact with the mess.

Image caption Some fans feel they are being priced out of GAA tickets

There is anger over the price of GAA tickets in the Fermanagh Herald.

The paper reports that some fans feel they are being priced out with a recent hike in ticket prices and that children will now be charged for some all-ticket games.

Ex-county player Colum Courtney told the paper: "It's getting to the point you could nearly go to the Premiership matches now for that price and their players are getting paid thousands every week."

Defending the move, GAA president John Horan told the paper there has not been a ticket increase for National Football League games since 2011 and that it was more "straightforward" to rise the price from €15 to €20 than by a couple of euros.

Also in the paper there are Brexit-related driving worries, with claims that Fermanagh drivers who are living across the border are being urged to switch their licence over or face another test.

It says the Department for Infrastructure has stated categorically that as of 28 March "drivers from the UK will need extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA".

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.

Image copyright ronstik/getty
Image caption Wages are "soaring" on the north coast, reports the Coleraine Chronicle

The north coast has long been a desirable place to live - beautiful beaches, history and more coffee shops than you can shake a stick at.

Now it seems that it makes good financial sense too.

The Coleraine Chronicle reports that wages are "soaring" in the Causeway Coast and Glens.

According to the latest statistics from the government's Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, average weekly pay rose by an "inflation-busting" 12.2% over last year.

Northern Ireland's wages overall grew by 4.4%.

In real terms that means a £385 pay cheque shot up to £430.

Image caption Royal Portrush Golf Club will host the Open during the peak of the seaside town's busy summer season

The paper also reports that a BBC article has prompted fierce debate on social media.

In January, the BBC reported that the closure of a Portrush car park was having a negative affect for some business owners.

The 240-space Dunluce Avenue car park is being refurbished in preparation for golf's Open Championship.

The reaction to the golf event in Portrush has provoked mixed reactions on the Portrush Matters Facebook page.

'Portrush moaners'

One user was annoyed by what they saw as an attempt to "try to impress rich golfers".

"When was the last time it was revamped?" asked the poster.

However, another user took to the page to suggest that the group be renamed "Portrush moaners".

One commenter said that the car park work had not affected anything and that instead that was "just Portrush at this time of year".

Another local spoke out in defence of the improvements, saying: "I work in town and we have not had one problem regarding the work happening."

"Whether you can park or not you either want Portrush upgraded or you don't."

'Horror in the hills'

In the Tyrone Constitution, the front page is a worrying one, with the headline shouting: "Horror in the hills."

The paper reports that an elderly farmer has been terrorised in his own backyard.

The farmer, who lives in the Glenhull area outside Greencastle, was checking livestock when he was confronted.

The man, already in bad health, was assaulted and had his 4x4 and trailer stolen by three men.

According to the paper, the attack is the latest in a series of rural robberies.

Councillor Sean Clarke said the farmer had been shaken and the attack was "heartbreaking".

Another councillor, Bert Wilson, said the lack of police resources and difficulty in tracking down thieves was making it "easy" for criminals to prey on vulnerable farmers in west Tyrone.

Image copyright Liountmila Korelidou
Image caption Armagh has one of the lowest divorce rates in NI, reports the Ulster Gazette

Want to avoid divorce? Go west.

In the Ulster Gazette readers hear that Armagh has one of the lowest divorce rates in Northern Ireland, according to Belfast solicitors Mackenzie and Dorman.

In fact the lowest rates were Fermanagh at 0.17%, Dungannon at 0.16% and Armagh at 0.19%.

Unsurprisingly, considering its higher population, the highest is Belfast with 13%.

However, the paper makes the point that statistically places like Ards and Banbridge have more divorces per head.

'Star power'

Show me the money - we hear that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has splashed the cash.

Almost £50,000 was "shelled out" to hire "star power" to headline events, it has been revealed in response to a freedom of information request.

Events that the money was spent on range from St Patrick's Day to a food event.

The highest fee went to designer Wayne Hemingway who was a keynote speaker at a regeneration conference.

The council said the money represented 0.0001% of its budget and that the figure has been reduced steadily.

They added that the events had been an "outstanding success".

DUP councillor Paul Greenfield said it was important to hire relevant speakers for a "good quality" event.