Northern Ireland

Weekly paper review: Paisley defence and pickpocket gang foiled

Mid Ulster Mail
The Impartial Reporter Image copyright The Impartial Reporter
Portadown Times
Londonderry and Roe Valley Sentinal Image copyright Sentinal

Heartless burglars, a defence of Ian Paisley and the foiling of a gang of holiday pickpockets appear in Northern Ireland's weekly papers.

In County Down, a Gilford mother has spoken of her pride after her 13-year-old son tackled pickpockets while they were on holiday in Bulgaria.

Joanne McAtamney tells the Banbridge Chronicle that she and her son, John-Jo Casey, were on a bus outside the Black Sea resort of Nessebar when the gang of female pickpockets struck.

One pushed Joanne to distract her, while another took a purse - containing the equivalent of £650 - from her belt bag.

Luckily, John-Jo had noticed the theft and pushed the woman, causing her to drop the purse.

He was then punched by two of the women and kicked by a third.

Image copyright Getty Images

However, the theft was foiled and the mother and son were able to enjoy the rest of their holiday - although they remained extremely cautious for the duration of it.

The paper also reports that South Down MLA Jim Wells is to complain to Ofcom, claiming he was "savaged" by presenter Piers Morgan while appearing on ITV's Good Morning Britain.

Mr Wells alleged he had been brought on to "deliberately denigrate everything that I stand for".

Responding on Twitter, Piers Morgan wrote: "Excellent!"

In the Ballymena Guardian, Ian Paisley Jr accused the BBC of trying to rewrite history over a Spotlight programme on the Troubles.

A former senior Army officer told the programme the MP's father, the late Ian Paisley Snr, "financed" a bombing by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in County Down in 1969.

However, writing in the Guardian the current North Antrim MP said the claim is nothing more than hearsay and that "other journalists who have seen the story have dismissed the evidence trail as so thin it's see-through".

The BBC has said it has complete confidence in the integrity of the programme.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Ian Paisley's reputation has been defended by his son

The paper also reports on the sentencing of a Ballymena man who had a Samurai sword "down his trousers" outside a McDonald's restaurant in the town.

The Portadown Times covers the story of a family "greatly upset" after money intended for a gravestone was stolen during a burglary.

The savings were taken after burglars ransacked the house on 5 September.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Duffy said it was a "despicable act" and thanked neighbours who had "rallied round to help".

The paper also reports on "ambitious plans" by Armagh GAA to transform a local club.

It says plans to create an impressive £5m state-of-the-art training facility at St Malachy's Club in Portadown were endorsed at a county committee meeting earlier in September.

The Impartial Reporter leads with a moving tribute from an Enniskillen woman to her partner following his death from a brain tumour.

"I loved him so very much," said Majella McCabe following the death of 44-year-old Jason Wilson.

"He was a lovely fella, everyone loved him. He was so charismatic and everyone wanted to be in his company."

Image copyright Ciara Colhoun

The paper said the untimely death of Mr Wilson, an avid country fan who was known in music circles, had devastated the community.

The Impartial Reporter also continues its investigation into allegations of historical child sexual abuse in Fermanagh.

It claims specialist officers are "now interviewing alleged victims every week".

The Londonderry Sentinel takes a look back at events in the north west during World War Two.

Specifically, it looks at a network of concrete pillboxes that stretched from Portstewart Strand to Magilligan and which aimed to protect Northern Ireland from German invasion.

The idea was that if the Germans landed on the north west coast, the landing force could be held up long enough for a larger defence force to arrive at the scene.

Image copyright Carrol Pierce/Geograph
Image caption Beaches such as Castlerock were seen as potential landing points for German invaders during World War Two

"After Dunkirk, a lot of heavy equipment had been lost, so they just built lots of concrete pillboxes along the coastline to act as what was called a coastal crust," heritage expert James O'Neill tells the paper.

This weekend, Mr O'Neill will lead a walking tour that will concentrate on the defence heritage of Castlerock.

The paper also features a call for businesses to embrace Derry's Halloween festivities.

Businessman Paul McCole says that with a bit of imagination, businesses can maximise the opportunities Halloween brings.

Image caption Business owners in Derry have been urged to embrace the opportunities presented by the city's Halloween festival

The Mid-Ulster Mail reports that a new £4.8m fire service training facility has finally opened in Desertcreat, County Tyrone.

It comes 19 years after a police and fire service development at the site was first announced.

Image caption An artist impression of the Desertcreat site

The plan for a police training area in Desertcreat was abandoned in 2004 after years of setbacks and spiralling costs.

Another opening featured in the paper is that of the new Coalisland Museum and Heritage Centre, which will tell the story of the area's industrial heritage as well as Coalisland Weaving Factory.