Northern Ireland

Weekly newspaper review: US Marines, chopper crash and volcano climb

Londonderry Sentinel Image copyright Londonderry Sentinel
Mourne Observer Image copyright Mourne Observer
Front cover of the Ulster Herald Image copyright Ulster Herald
Ba;l;lymena Guardian Image copyright Ballymena Guardian
Fermanagh Herald Image copyright Fermanagh Herald
Ulster Gazette Image copyright Ulster Gazette

US Marines on manoeuvre in the north west, a helicopter crash and a grandmother's ascent of a Japanese volcano feature in NI's weekly papers.

One woman proving age is just a number is Kilkeel woman Maura Ward.

The Mourne Observer says the 70-year-old, who has Parkinson's disease, is set to mark her birthday by scaling Mount Fuji in Japan.

In doing so, Mrs Ward will be raising money for charity.

Having visited Tibet, Bolivia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, her adventures are charted on her blog 'Geriatric Traveller'.

In more mountain-related news in the paper, a German tour group, who say they want to give something back to the areas they visit, have picked up litter while walking through the Mournes.

Tour guide Gabi Reubel said she wanted to try and promote "sustainable tourism".

"We enjoy the area and we want to give back to the county that is giving to us; it is our environment, it doesn't matter where you are from," she said.

The group picked up litter while walking along the Brandy Pad with local man Peter Rafferty last week.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maura Ward is getting ready to tackle Mount Fuji to celebrate her 70th birthday

US Marines on manoeuvre around the River Foyle are pictured in the Londonderry Sentinel.

The training sessions are not linked to any current Middle East tensions - the photos were takenin 1943, a year before the D-Day landings.

While the Marines did not take part in D-Day, many of those based in Northern Ireland's north west would later take part in the fight against Japan in the Pacific.

The pictures show landing barges on the Foyle, as well as marches in the County Londonderry countryside (complete with ponchos to ward off the rain of course).

Historian Mark Lusby says the main purpose of the Marines in the area was to guard a US Navy operating base.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some US Marines were based in the Derry area during World War Two

He says other Derry-based Marines had earlier taken part in campaigns such as Operation Torch in North Africa.

The paper also reports on a new specialist bra and swimwear fitting service in the city for women undergoing breast surgery.

The service has been launched by Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.

In County Armagh, the Ulster Gazette reports on the fall-out after a picture of victims campaigner Willie Frazer in a hospital bed was shared on social media.

The 58-year-old died on Friday and the Southern Health Trust is investigating how the picture was taken in Craigavon Area Hospital earlier in June.

A friend of Mr Frazer, Pastor Barrie Hailliday, told the paper the photograph had been very hurtful to the Frazer family.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption A picture of victims campaigner Willie Frazer in his hospital bed was shared on social media

"Willie Frazer wouldn't have done it on his worst enemy," he said.

Great news for four-year-old Bessbrook girl Ellen Treanor also features in the paper.

Ellen was diagnosed as having stage four neuroblastoma in January 2018 and has since battled through a continuous cycle of scans, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, operations and several trips to America for specialist treatment.

However, she's now been able to ring the bell at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children to declare she is officially cancer-free.

Her dad tells the paper the news is "totally amazing".

TUV leader Jim Allister's complaint that an LGBT banner at a Sainsbury's store is "isolating Christians" appears in the Ballymena Guardian.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption TUV leader Jim Allister is unhappy about an LGBT banner at a Sainsbury's store in Ballymena

Mr Allister has written to the store in Ballymena, to contend that the banner is "too in your face" and has caused "hurt and offence" to many in the community.

Contacted by the Guardian, a Sainsbury's spokesperson said: "At Sainsbury's, our aim is to be the most inclusive retailer, where people love to shop and work,

"We welcome all members from any community to our stores and celebrate a range of events to help us demonstrate this."

Meanwhile, Ballymena man Jim Montgomery, who now lives in Portstewart, tells the paper of his journey to Lithuania to get knee-replacement surgery.

Mr Montgomery said he had been told he would have to wait two years for the surgery in Northern Ireland, but after advice from a friend - BBC Sport pundit Liam Beckett - he filled out a form from the Health and Social Care Board to have the operation in the Baltic republic.

He said he paid just over £6,700 for flights, surgery, accommodation and rehabilitation "but will get every penny back".

On its front page, the Fermanagh Herald says there has been a 330% increase in the number of people facing long waits at the South West Acute Hospital's A&E unit.

The paper says that nearly 1,300 patients were forced to wait longer than 12 hours at the hospital's emergency department in the past year.

That figure compares to 391 in 2017/18 and 195 in 2016/17.

Image caption Waiting times at the South West Acute Hospital feature in the Fermanagh Herald

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "Clearly the current model of care - the way we organise urgent and emergency services together with the flow of patients through our hospitals from admission to discharge - needs to change."

The paper also reports on a helicopter crash at St Angelo airport on Tuesday.

It says debris was was scattered 50 metres across the airport grounds, but thankfully the pilot, a middle aged man, was able to walk away albeit in a "very distressed state".

In County Tyrone, the Ulster Herald carries a story about the closure of a local school which has been described as "collateral damage caused when rationalisation calls the shots".

Erganagh Primary School in Castlederg, which was first founded in 1825, has been earmarked for closure later this summer, after being described as not sustainable by the Department for Education.

"This is my last day to speak to such a large group," said Heather Wallace, the school's principal.

"I didn't think I had anything in common with Theresa May, but here I find myself in a similar situation."

A recent clash between churchgoers and Department for Infrastructure workers is covered elsewhere.

Last Sunday morning, there were delays and noise caused by yellow lines being painted onto the roads outside the town's Scared Heart Church.

Image caption Churchgoers were perturbed by the lines being painted on during Mass time

"There is no way this work should have been scheduled outside a chapel to coincide with morning Mass," said local Sinn Féin councillor Barry McElduff.

A spokesperson for the department said the laying of the lines made "little or no noise" and was carried out by a two-man team who could step out of the way.

It added it would take into account the concerns raised.