Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Health, vandals and anti-social behaviour

Ballymena Guardian Image copyright Ballymena Guardian
Newry Reporter Image copyright Newry Reporter
Ulster Gazette Image copyright Ulster Gazette
Ulster Herald Image copyright Ulster Herald

Council concerns, strains on the health system, anti-social behaviour and vandalism - those are the stories which fill our local newspapers and this week is no exception.

For example, the Ballymena Guardian reveals how much money newly-elected members of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council can expect to receive in their annual basic allowance - it's £15,072.

However, there are a number of allowances available to councillors, which the paper details.

In the Newry Reporter, Newry Mourne and Down District Council is criticised by Des Murphy, chairperson of the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, after a restored tram carriage was wrecked by vandals while on council property.

"Council ineptitude"

Mr Murphy says the tram, restored with £10,000 donated by the partnership, has been "treated carelessly" by the council.

He believes it should have been better protected and secured.

Image caption The carriage, which once formed part of the Newry to Bessbrook tram, before it was restored

The Newry Reporter does not hold back.

"Why not call it as it is," a headline asks, before answering its own question, "ratepayers will have to pay for council ineptitude".

The Newry Reporter said it contacted the council for a response on the issue but was met with "silence".

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council told the BBC that it was "extremely disappointed" that vandals had gained unauthorised access to the site and damaged the tram.

"The council now endeavours to install additional measures within the existing perimeter fencing on the site to prevent this happening in the future."

The council added that it was working to relocate the tram from the Albert Basin site and that it will be repaired.

The Ballymena Guardian has a feature article about a Gibraltarian returning to camp outside Broughshane after 75 years.

Horace Bugeja is now 84 years old.

As a child he was forced out of Gibraltar, along with his parents and grandfather, to a Nissan Hut on the Buckna Road, an experience the young boy from the Mediterranean found "very cold".

The Ballymena Guardian is also looking forward to some big events in the area - the Ballymena Agricultural Show and the All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships.

Nazi salutes

"Nazi salutes made at church parade," is the front page story in the Ulster Gazette.

It refers to a Royal Black Preceptory parade in Killylea, County Armagh, on Sunday which was, the Gazette reports, "marred" by "sectarian anti-social behaviour", the first time any such disruption has taken place.

The story makes it clear that the disruption was caused by one person who made the salutes as well as shouting abuse and making an obscene gesture, according to Royal Black Preceptory Worshipful Master, Isaac Beattie.

Mr Beattie challenged anyone who has an issue with the organisation's parade to come and speak to him.

The second story on the Ulster Gazette's front page concerns, well, the Ulster Gazette.

The paper has a new editor, Michael Scott. The Lisnadill man was formerly the editor of the Newry Democrat.

'Foul-mouthed abuse'

The Coleraine Chronicle covers a similar event to the one in Killylea - "Bandsmen praised after Portrush incident".

A man "shouted foul-mouthed abuse" at a junior Orange parade in Portrush on Saturday, the paper reports.

Local unionist councillors praised bandsmen for their "restraint" following the incident and are calling on the PSNI to take further action.

Local papers often return to the aftermath of tragedy long after the national press has simply moved on.

The Coleraine Chronicle's front page story concerns the beginning of an inquest into the death of "much-loved Coleraine schoolboy" Reece Meenan, who died in a road crash in November 2016.

Image copyright © Kenneth Allen/CC Geograph
Image caption Portrush's East Strand has failed to achieve Blue Flag status

Turning to the environment and the Coleraine Chronicle reports that a Portrush beach "once more fails" to achieve Blue Flag status.

Officials are investigating what is causing pollution of the East Strand, the paper says.

Diamonds are Fermanagh

Environmental concerns are also the lead in the Fermanagh Herald.

"Diamond mining one step closer...but opponents vow to fight Dublin firm's bid to cash in," is the paper's splash.

We are told that Fermanagh has a "suspected abundance of precious stones".

Karelian Diamond Resources Ltd has been granted a licence to prospect in a large area in east Fermanagh, the Herald reports.

Image caption Are there diamonds buried under Fermanagh?

The company said the "environmentally-friendly mining... could create jobs in Fermanagh".

However, one councillor said there was huge concern in the community at the development.

The Ulster Herald is focusing on heath issues.

The paper tells us that a Dromore man has just returned from Lithuania where he had a hip operation.

He would have had to wait up to four years to have the same procedure in the Western Trust area, according to figures obtained by the paper via a Freedom of Information request made by newly elected Sinn Féin councillor, Barry McIlduff.

'Excited'

There is another health story in the Ulster Herald and it's an uplifting one.

Pomeroy man Manuel Silva is to give one of his kidneys to his 11-year-old daughter, Tatiana, after she had to have both of her's removed due to chronic kidney disease.

The Ulster Herald spoke to the excited little girl, her family and her school as she prepared for surgery.