Northern Ireland

Weekly paper review: Remarkable friends and smear test fears

The Impartial Reporter Image copyright The Impartial Reporter
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Mid Ulster Mail Image copyright Mid Ulster Mail
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Lurgan Mail Image copyright Lurgan Mail
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Newry Democrat Image copyright Newry Democrat
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Coleraine Chronicle Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle
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Ballymena Guardian Image copyright Ballymena Guardian

The story of a friendship struck up over the CB airwaves makes the front page of The Lurgan Mail.

If you were around during the 1980s you'll probably remember CB radios and the strange lingo of their users.

Before social media and mobile phones, you could talk to someone through a glorified walkie-talkie.

The paper reports on a bittersweet long-distance reunion following a friendship struck through CB radio conversations.

Image copyright Lurgan Mail
Image caption Davy and Marie-Paul Verkamer with Geoffrey McBride

While most of the radios had a short range, Lurgan man Geoffrey McBride was able to reach Belgium and fellow CB user Stefaan Verkamer, with whom he struck up an enduring friendship.

Sadly, Stefaan passed away last year, but his widow Marie-Paul and son Davy travelled to Northern Ireland to meet up with Geoffrey.

The paper also reports on the concerns of residents of a block of flats in Craigavon, who fear a fire could lead to disaster.

Resident Sean McGuigan tells the paper there is only one entry/exit and no fire alarms in communal areas of the Drumgor flats.

However, the Housing Executive says it has installed a range of fire and safety measures and carries out regular maintenance at them.

Cervical smear fears

The Impartial Reporter tells the story of a woman "worried sick" about a smear screen recall.

Colm Bradley reports that the woman had been asked to have her test repeated almost a year after she believed her last test to be clear.

She has received a letter from the Western Health and Social Care Trust stating that her cervical smear should have been reported as showing "borderline changes" and that further tests should have been carried out.

"It gives you peace of mind when it all comes back as normal but now they are saying that there are changes and that another test should have been carried out to rule something else out," she tells the paper.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption A woman has told The Impartial Reporter she is "worried sick" by smear test recall

"I am just so worried sick. It has been almost a year since my last test."

In a statement, a Western Trust spokesman said: "The Trust is continuing its review and therefore it would be too early to comment or pre-empt the outcome.

"We are going through a review process and we have to allow this to take place."

The paper also covers the story of a Lisnaskea woman who fell foul of an internet scam that uses the name of Fermanagh businessman Sean Quinn to reel in investors.

She says she was convinced by the scam and believed she would "make a small bit of money to help with upcoming bills."

But the woman says she lost €250 to the scammers, who now have scanned copies of her driving licence and passport.

From Ballymena to Cushendall

A greenway project for the Glens of Antrim has moved a step closer, the Ballymena Guardian reports.

The paper says that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is now in position to bid for capital funding for the project, which would link Ballymena and Cushendall.

"Hopefully this project comes to fruition and will attract many more visitors to mid and east Antrim," the vice-chair of the council, Councillor Mark McKinty, says.

If you're one of those people who just can't get out of bed in the morning, the Guardian has a story that could fill you with horror.

It shows pictures unearthed by one of its reporters of Kells' own "lady of the lamp" Mary Millar, whose job as a "knocker-upper" was to get up at the crack of dawn to go round the doors of the village and give people their early morning alarm call.

Image copyright Ballymena Guardian

The knocker-up would use a baton or short heavy stick to knock on clients' doors, or a long stick to knock on their bedroom windows.

Most had given up their roles in the 1920s, but the paper says Mary continued to wake her neighbours until the outbreak of World War Two.

Ten years after being struck by a train on the Coleraine to Portrush railway line, the family of teenager Ryan Quinn has appealed, in the Coleraine Chronicle, for anyone who was with him that night to "search their consciences".

Murder investigation

Ryan's parents and grandparents tell the paper they are convinced the 14-year-old from Coleraine was chased on to the railway line after being assaulted earlier that night in January 2009.

A murder investigation was opened at the time, but no-one was ever charged.

Image caption Ryan Quinn was killed on the Portrush to Coleraine railway line in January 2009

"There is no light at the end of the tunnel. But justice would give us closure and we could finally grieve properly," Ryan's mum, Lisa, tells the paper.

Ryan's dad, Ivan, said his terrified son phoned him shortly before he was killed to say he was being chased, "but by the time I got there it was too late".

The paper also has the story of a "forgotten war hero".

Private John Douthart from Macosquin was killed in 1918 while carrying a fatally injured officer from a battlefield in France.

His act of valour was uncovered during the search for the identity of the "unknown captain" who occupied a war grave in northern France.

Fighting on the streets of Cookstown makes news in the Mid Ulster Mail.

Rural thefts

In a social media post, police said they were "appalled" by the behaviour of some people after pubs and clubs closed on Saturday night.

"People fighting in the street and assaulting police," the post reads.

"We will not tolerate this behaviour and it will be a one way ticket to custody for anybody that acts in this way."

Meanwhile, police in Mid Ulster believe quad bikes are being targeted for theft in rural parts of the area.

Image copyright Getty Images

It says there have been a number of such thefts in the area in recent weeks.

"We are working on a number of strong lines of enquiry but we need more help from you guys," police said.

"Not in our back yard" is the front page headline of the Newry Democrat.

The issue in question? Nuclear waste.

The paper says that Newry and Mourne has been identified as one of 13 areas in the UK that could host a geological disposal facility (gdf) for nuclear waste.

The report by Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) cited "granites and similar strong rocks around Newry" as suitable for hosting a facility hundreds of metres below ground.

Image copyright Getty Images

However, that prospect hasn't gone down too well with local representatives.

'Precious environment'

The MP for the area, Sinn Féin's Chris Hazzard, says the British government should not use Northern Ireland as a dumping ground, while the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie said "we don't want this anywhere near our precious environment".

A spokesperson for RWM said no host site had been identified and no UK region is being targeted over any others.

It says the disposal of nuclear waste is a devolved matter which currently cannot be discussed as there is no functioning executive.

The paper also reports on concerns over anti-social behaviour in one of Newry's housing estates.

Workers' Party councillor, Dan Gebski, says some residents of Carlingford Park have told him they are afraid to venture out at night due to the behaviour of some young people who gather in the area.