Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Death threats and a Canadian Halloween

Fireworks Image copyright Getty Images

Death threats against Fermanagh businessmen is one of the main stories in this week's local papers.

The Fermanagh Herald reports that the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings have received a sinister "last warning" to resign.

The threat was delivered in a letter and refers to an attack on its director, Kevin Lunney, six weeks ago.

Mr Lunney was abducted from near his Fermanagh home, badly beaten and he was slashed with a knife.

Image copyright RTE
Image caption QIH director Kevin Lunney was attacked last month

The newspaper reports that the attackers claimed that if they had wanted to, they "could have killed Kevin very easily".

The letter also threatened Cavan County Council staff or contractors who make an attempt to remove posters erected as part of the campaign of intimidation against the company's directors.

In response to the letter, a spokesman for Quinn Industrial Holdings said: "Regrettably, continuing threats are no surprise."

"It is just proof positive that this issue will not be resolved until the pay master behind it is brought to justice and law and order is restored in this peace-loving community."

In the Down Recorder, a local politician has said that he fears someone could lose their life if teenagers don't stop terrorising the elderly with fireworks.

Image copyright Andersonstown News
Image copyright Down recorder
Image copyright Andersonstown News

Rowallane councillor Billy Walker said many senior citizens are "living in fear" and has appealed for hose targeting homes to stop.

The newspaper reports that Mr Walker has been contacted by concerned residents, but admits fireworks are a problem across the district.

Mr Walker called on authorities to do more to stop illegal sellers.

'Perverse gratification'

Also in the same newspaper, a health trust worker who placed cameras in a staff toilet at Downe Hospital for his "perverse gratification" was given a one-year suspended jail sentence at Downpatrick court.

David Britton, 51, of Antrim Road in Belfast, admitted five counts of voyeurism when he placed a camera to record a total of 16 nursing staff using the toilet.

Britton was dismissed from his post as an IT worker at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust when he was convicted.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Declan Kevin O'Neill admitted killing his mother

The Andersonstown News leads on the west Belfast junior doctor who admitted killing his mother in 2017.

The newspaper reports that Declan O'Neill's grandmother and sister appealed for leniency, after years of "relentless emotional violence" as he awaits sentencing.

Anne O'Neill, 51, was found with head injuries in the garden of her parents' home in Finaghy on 21 October 2017.

'Mercy'

Her son, Declan, had attacked her with a chisel.

Relatives of Declan O'Neill asked the court to show "mercy" because Anne O'Neill had a "controlling personality" and had driven her son "beyond limits".

Declan O'Neill's lawyer said his client had been assessed as being in a depressed state at the time of the murder.

Image copyright Getty Images

Back to the Fermanagh Herald, where a firm that claims to be the biggest church supplier in Ireland is reportedly on a mission to save Christmas services from Brexit.

The newspaper reports fears that there could be a shortage of communion wafers in the aftermath of the UK leaving the EU.

Red wine and communion wafers are being stockpiled by a firm in County Leitrim to ensure that there is enough to go round for large congregations at Christmas Masses.

Family-run firm Desmond Wisley Ecclesiastical Supplies has been in business for more than 40 years.

'Panicking'

It provides a range of products including wine, bread, altar cloths, banners, candles and vestments.

It sources communion wafers in Poland and transports them to Ireland via the UK, but Wisley has "Brexit-proofed" Christmas by doubling communion and wine orders.

The paper quotes a Wisley spokesperson telling the Irish Mirror: "We were panicking they might get stuck in the UK but now we have it covered, so everyone will make it to Mass at Christmas."

Image copyright DCSDC
Image caption Derry is famous for it's annual Halloween celebrations

On to the Londonderry Sentinel, where a County Londonderry-born mayor based in Canada is bidding to emulate similar-style Halloween celebrations across the Atlantic.

Mike Hurley was born in Magherafelt in 1958 and moved to Canada in the 1980s where he served in the Burnaby Fire Department for 30 years until his election as first citizen last year.

During his four-year term, he is hoping that Burnaby can develop a Halloween festival to match Derry's, which was voted the best Halloween destination in the world by USA Today.

"The Derry Halloween celebration started after I moved to Canada", Mike told the newspaper.

"We are always looking for ideas to bring commerce to our city, our hospitality industry isn't as busy this time of year, so we feel we could build something and bring in more visitors."

Car hijack

Turning to the Newry Reporter, a local woman has told the paper that a man, who claimed to be armed, forced her from her vehicle.

The incident happened shortly after 11:30 BST on Thursday 17 October outside the Quays shopping complex.

She said: "I saw a man across the road and slowed down because I thought he was coming out in front of me and he disappeared behind me and the next thing, he was in the car on the passenger side.

"He told me he was going to stab me, opened my door at the driver's side, took my seatbelt off and was shoving me out of the car."

The 32-year-old woman said she "stood there screaming, it was really terrifying".

Thanks to a tracker in the car, gardaĆ­ (Irish police) were able to track the car to a house in Dundalk, where three men were arrested.

Image copyright Getty Images

Also in the same paper, more than 30% patients at Daisy Hill Hospital's emergency department in September waited longer than four hours for treatment.

According to new statistics, only 66% of patients were seen within the four-hour target, which was 3.5% fewer than figures recorded for September 2018.

A spokesperson for the trust highlighted the increased pressures faced by emergency departments at this time of year.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Omagh traders want the town free from election posters this Christmas

And finally, we have the Ulster Herald, where Omagh traders are calling on local election candidates to make the town centre a "poster-free zone" this Christmas.

With the Westminster election taking place in December, traders feel the increase in candidates' posters would detract from efforts to make the town centre as festive as possible for shoppers.

Lynn McKinley, Omagh town centre forum chairperson, said she would like to see candidates come to an agreement on the issue.

She said: "Businesses make financial contributions for the Christmas decorations and we are working to promote shop local campaigns, so we really wouldn't want anything to detract from that.

"Christmas is a vital time for town centre trading and we want to attract as many shoppers as possible over the next coming weeks."