Northern Ireland

NI weekly papers: A grave mystery and the PSNI 'tooth fairy'

Portadown Times Image copyright Portadown Times
Strabane Chronicle Image copyright Strabane Chronicle
Impartial Reporter Image copyright Impartial Reporter
Down Recorder Image copyright Down Recorder
Ballymena and Antrim Times Image copyright Ballymena and Antrim Times

Mystery over a body in a shallow grave and a search for the owner of a missing tooth are among the more unusual stories making this week's papers.

Police were called to a cemetery in Portadown, County Armagh, after gravediggers found skeletal remains in a plot that was supposed to be empty.

The Portadown Times says Seagoe Cemetery was sealed off for hours on Wednesday while officers investigated whether the bones were human.

Image copyright Portadown Times
Image caption Gravediggers found the bones while preparing a grave on Wednesday

After consulting archaeologists, police said the remains were "historical".

No light has been shed on the identity of the "undocumented" bones, but they are set to be reburied.

The Times also reports on another Irish language row between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin.

DUP councillors complained after Sinn Féin erected bilingual road signs saying 'Slow/Go Mall' across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council area.

Sinn Féin told the paper it was a "road safety issue", but DUP councillor Lavelle McIlwrath said if they were serious about safety, signs would "include Portuguese, Lithuanian and scores of other languages that the majority of residents in the area could understand".

Image copyright Sinn Féin
Image caption Sinn Féin's Catherine Nelson posted photos of herself and others erecting the signs

Teenagers went on a "drunken rampage" in a County Tyrone village, attacking residents with bricks and stones reports the Strabane Chronicle.

One anonymous Sion Mills resident says he was hit in the face with a brick and struck on the back with an iron bar after being "surrounded" by the youths.

The paper says a group of more than 20 teenagers pulled barriers across the main A5 road on Tuesday night before pelting cars with stones and bricks.

Community worker Andy Patton says residents were frightened by the "wanton vandalism" which effectively closed off their village until police arrived.

Image copyright Strabane Chronicle
Image caption Andy Patton pictured with some of the bricks thrown by rioting youths in Sion Mills on Tuesday

In neighbouring Strabane, a crumbling building on Main Street has been posing a danger to the public

"I was just walking past on the street when a window sill from the house fell off. It just missed hitting me," a passer-by tells the Chronicle.

Council officials have since visited the building at the corner of Eden Terrace to ensure it is maintained to a safe standard.

The liberalisation of Northern Ireland's abortion law is "not a done deal", according to the Impartial Reporter.

It quotes Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster saying her party's confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives "does not extend to abortion".

Last month, Westminster passed legislation to change the law if there is no deal to restore Stormont by 21 October.

But Mrs Foster says she is "determined to reach an agreement" so there will be "no requirement" for the Westminster legislation.

Inside the Impartial, a former children's hospice which cost £1.2m to build is now up for sale at a quarter of the price - £300,000.

Image copyright Montgomery Finlay and Co
Image caption The £1.2m children's hospice closed in 2016 after just four years in operation

Horizon West in Killadeas, County Fermanagh, opened in 2012 but closed four years later due to a lack of specialist nurses.

The Reporter says much of the money used to develop the hospice was raised through a public appeal at the height of the "worst recession in decades".

A woman who was indecently assaulted when she was just eight years of age has spoken out to encourage other victims to report historic abuse.

The 44-year-old, who spoke to the Down Recorder anonymously, went to police after a chance encounter with her attacker in an airport in 2016.

When police investigated, they uncovered a second complaint against the man made by another girl 20 years later.

Both women went to court earlier this year and their abuser, James Gerard McEvoy from Downpatrick Street, Rathfriland, is now serving a three-year sentence.

The Recorder also reports councillors have approved plans to build a "medieval Viking settlement" on the outskirts of Downpatrick.

The proposed educational and "re-enactment" facility includes six small structures, enclosed by wooden fencing, near Ballydugan Lake.

The developers plan to link up with other nearby historical attractions, including the alleged grave of Viking king, Magnus Barelegs.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Boris Johnson opened a Wrightbus factory when he was mayor of London in 2013

In Ballymena, there are calls for a major government intervention after one of the town's biggest employers, Wrightbus, admitted cash flow problems.

The bus manufacturer employs about 1,400 people in Northern Ireland, according to the Ballymena and Antrim Times.

Boris Johnson championed Wrightbus as mayor of London and now, as prime minister, he has been asked to step in to help by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister tells the paper Stormont's Department for Infrastructure could also assist by speeding up its orders for new Translink buses.

The paper has welcome news for cash-strapped parents who are dreading big bills to kit their children out for school in September.

A new uniform exchange scheme has been set up where families can swop second-hand school clothes for the sizes they need this year.

All the uniforms are pre-worn but are clean and "good quality".

Families who have nothing to swap will still be offered help by volunteers at the exchanges in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.

Motorists in County Londonderry are counting down the days to the opening of the first phase of the new A6.

Image copyright Department for Infrastructure
Image caption The new A6 dual carriageway pictured from Ballynafey Bridge

From Monday, traffic will be able to use a four-mile (seven kilometre) stretch of dual carriageway between Randalstown and Toome, reports the Derry Journal

The paper says it is "welcome news for the 20,000 vehicles using the route each day".

'The whole tooth'

Finally, an unusual case of lost and found caused much hilarity on social media, after the PSNI discovered a dental implant while patrolling Derry city centre.

Image copyright PSNI Foyle/Facebook
Image caption Officers posted a photo of the item on their Facebook account

"We'd love to be able to return this valuable item to the owner. Someone should notice that it's missing, you'd think," officers wrote on Facebook.

The post attracted hundreds of comments, as Facebook users joked the PSNI had found "the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth" and were "getting to the root of the problem".

The Derry Journal keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek, reporting that officers are "checking dental records" to solve the mystery.

"One Derry wag quipped 'a report has been prepared for the Crown Prosecution Service!'"