Northern Ireland

NI weekly papers: A councillor's big day and noisy pigs

Coleraine Chronicle Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle
Fermanagh Herald Image copyright Fermanagh Herald
Ballymena Guardian Image copyright Ballymena Guardian
Mid-Ulster Mail Image copyright Mid-Ulster Mail

There's a man who loves his new job so much he even got hitched at work.

Well, sort of, according to this week's County Down Spectator.

Newly-elected independent councillor Ray McKimm attended his first official council meeting at Bangor Castle on Wednesday before walking across the corridor to sign the papers of his civil partnership to Pól Hayes.

Mr McKimm said that when Ards and North Down Borough Council's chief executive Stephen Reid told him the date of the meeting, he thought the date seemed familiar.

Fortunately, his colleagues were happy to put the meeting back so he could nip out to get hitched.

Image copyright Getty Images

Elsewhere in the paper, there are concerns over parking in Bangor after plans were unveiled to develop the town's seafront.

The newspaper reports there are currently 864 spaces in Bangor's council-run car parks but this will be reduced to 627, of which only 127 will be free to use.

In the Coleraine Chronicle, a PUP councillor who topped the poll in this month's council elections insists he has no regrets about his UVF past.

Russell Watton said he was motivated by "a thirst for revenge over IRA atrocities".

Asked about the victims of the UVF, he said: "We'd no great interest in them, quite honestly. We just saw it as one of them things. That's the way it was."

Meanwhile, the paper reports that plans to erect a spectacular Ferris wheel in Portstewart have met with opposition from some residents.

Image copyright Getty Images

Operators of a "panoramic viewing wheel" have applied for planning permission to put the 34-metre structure in the council-owned Crescent playground over July and August.

However, some residents of the area believe that, together with other building projects under way, it would make it difficult for people in the area "to enter or leave their property".

In County Armagh, the Ulster Gazette has a smiling Ellen Treanor on its front page.

The four-year-old, from Bessbrook, will hopefully be travelling to New York next month for cancer treatment.

She was just two when she was diagnosed with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma.

Her dad Paddy says that the whole treatment lasts a year in total, including seven vaccines to stop the cancer returning.

The newspaper also reports that police are investigating after a male driver took photographs of children while they played in a garden in Hamiltonsbawn.

The incident happened at tea-time on 16 May.

DUP councillor Gareth Wilson said the driver took a picture of young girls in the garden then made a "shush" gesture to them before driving away.

Police said they are conducting a number of inquiries.

D-Day and a christening gown

A Ballymena actor - not called Liam Neeson - recounts his role in one of the most visceral scenes in cinema history in the Ballymena Guardian.

Shashi Rami appeared in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, which depicted the US landings on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Image caption The famous scene in Saving Private Ryan recreates the US landings at Omaha Beach

Speaking as the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings approaches, he told the Guardian: "You cannot possibly experience the terrifying reality of what those men went through on that day, budget and directorship meant that the landing scene was about as close as anyone could get in cinematic terms."

The newspaper also has the story of a 105-year-old christening gown, which has been discovered in a Broughshane attic.

Making the find even better is the fact that one of those christened in the gown was on hand to display it.

Maureen Walker was one of four siblings from the Dickey family who wore the gown.

Mrs Walker, who certainly does not look her 100 years, did so in 1919.

Moving forward

There's good news on the front page of the Mid-Ulster Mail as eight-year-old David McGeehan is showing signs of improvement.

The Ballyronan boy has a rare form of autism and relies on his parents for everyday tasks such as feeding, eating and going to the toilet.

He recently started receiving treatment at the International Therapy Centre for Autism in Lucan, County Dublin, thanks to donations from the local public.

After only three sessions, his mother says he is responding to sensory stimuli and now knows when it is time for bed.

Image copyright SPL

Elsewhere in the paper, the number of dementia cases in Northern Ireland has increased from 15,850 known cases in 2005 to more than 20,400 in 2019 - and the number is expected to rise.

The newspaper reports that almost 1,000 of the cases identified were in Mid Ulster.

"We all have a role in Northern Ireland to help create a dementia-friendly generation, changing the way people think, talk and act about dementia," said Bernadine McCrory, Northern Ireland director for Alzheimer's Society.

Image copyright Getty Images

Last but not least, in County Fermanagh there are fears over plans for a large pig plant near Derrylin.

The Fermanagh Herald reports that concerns have been raised about the smell, noise and heavy traffic, sparking 70 objections to the planning proposal.

"We are concerned about the environmental impact it could have, the ecological impact, and the impact it could have on residents," local resident Francis Scallon told the Fermanagh Herald.

And there's a long road to recovery ahead for Kevin Fee, from Tempo.

The 20-year-old was studying in Belfast when he fell down a flight of stairs and was left with a serious brain injury which resulted in him having to learn how to walk and talk again.

He also has Klippel Feil Syndrome, which causes chronic pain and low blood pressure, and contributed to the accident.

It has been "a rollercoaster of emotions" since the incident last year, he said.

Let's hope his recovery (and little Ellen's) go well.