Northern Ireland

NI weekly paper review: Car tax fines and a bowl of porridge

Newry Reporter Image copyright Newry Reporter
Down Recorder Image copyright Down Recorder
Larne Times Image copyright Larne Times
Fermanagh Herald Image copyright Fermanagh Herald

Car tax fines and a bowl of porridge- it's all happening in this week's local papers.

We start with the Newry Reporter, where a clerical figure has been "unequivocally cleared" of any wrongdoing following a police investigation.

Canon Francis Brown stepped down from his role in May last year pending a police investigation after an allegation dating back to 1984 was made against him.

At the time, he released a statement saying he was looking forward to a "thorough expeditious examination" of the matter and that he expected "to return to work in the parish in the very near future".

Image copyright The Newry Reporter
Image caption Canon Francis Brown was cleared of any wrongdoing relating to an historical allegation

On Monday, the Elliot and Trainor partnership in Newry released a statement confirming that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) would not be prosecuting.

A solicitor said that Canon Brown was invited by the PSNI for interview and that he fully cooperated with them in their inquiries.

The statement read: "The unequivocal decision by the PPS not to prosecute our client vindicates Canon Brown, who has constantly denied any wrongdoing at any time in his life and throughout his ministry as a priest."

The Newry Reporter also reports that an ambulance crew from the Republic of Ireland was drafted in to help with staff shortages at Newry Ambulance station on Friday.

Staff shortages occurred all over Northern Ireland for four nights.

Last weekend, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was down 20 crews- roughly a quarter of the work force.

Image copyright Getty Images

On to the Larne Times, where there have been calls for motorists caught out by the long MOT waiting times to be exempt from fines for not paying their car tax.

Drivers are unable to tax their vehicle without an MOT.

Despite waiting times of up to two months for an MOT appointment, some motorists are being issued with fines for failure to pay their tax.

The newspaper reports that East Antrim UP MLA Roy Begs said drivers are being ordered to pay £40 fines, rising to £80 if not paid within a short period of time.

'Off the road'

Mr Begs said: "Of course if you haven't an MOT then you can't be taxed. Then, because of the MOT waiting times you have a car which is off the road for some time.

"First of all, there's a cost to individuals of having a car which may be in perfectly good working order off the road because of the backlog.

"But the problem is, if your car is untaxed, you are supposed to make an off-road declaration. MOT waiting times are around eight weeks, they are clearly not managing this."

Pensioner burglary

Next, we have the Fermanagh Herald where a terminally ill man has been targeted by a group of thieves.

Frank McCaffrey, 79, was reportedly left shaken after his home on Cornagrade Road was broken into and a sum of money stolen.

The newspaper reports that Mr McCaffrey lives on his own and is deaf.

After hearing about the incident, staff at a local deli set up a crowd funding page which has received £1,500 in donations from the community.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many Fermanagh day trippers head to Mullaghmore beach in Sligo

Also in the Fermanagh Herald, the case of cattle grazing on the edge of a beach in Mullaghmore after it was closed for three days due to suspected pollution.

A herd of 20 cows was spotted on the strand on Thursday morning, with one local claiming this was a "regular occurrence".

A few days earlier, swimming at the popular beach was banned after high levels of Enterococci were detected in the water.

It is understood that the exact cause of the water quality failure has not yet been confirmed.

Image copyright The Down Recorder
Image caption The birthday boy with his letter from the queen

And finally, the Down Recorder, where a Downpatrick man has reached the ripe old age of 100.

Roderick Maguire told the newspaper that his secret to a long life is a daily bowl of porridge.

He said that he still eats porridge every morning which he makes for himself.

Roddy, as he is affectionately known, received his congratulatory card from the Queen as well as a letter from Irish President Michael D Higgins.

He also received 2,500 Euros, a special financial bounty known as the Centenarian award.