Northern Ireland

NI weekly papers: House attack, drug death and data breach

Coleraine Chronicle Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle

Shots fired into a kitchen, a data breach at a hospital and rural drug use are among the stories in Northern Ireland's weekly newspapers.

The Coleraine Chronicle says that three children were in a house in the town on Sunday night when two masked gunmen burst in and fired a number of shots.

A man and two women were in the kitchen with two children, both under the age of five, when the attack happened at Loughanhill Park.

A third child, also under the age of five, was upstairs at the time.

The Chronicle says some of the shots struck the kitchen table.

It quotes a detective who says it was a "reckless attack" by "faceless thugs".

Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports that a fire engine was attacked after being called to Portrush in the early hours of Saturday. No one was injured.

Pensioner's plea

The Antrim Guardian says a Randalstown pensioner is pleading for attacks on his home to stop after it was targeted for the second time in a month.

Joe Molloy tells the paper he is at a loss to understand why large stones have been thrown through his front window and says he could have been killed in the latest attack last weekend.

"I was sitting on the three-seater and the scare I got," he said.

"I got a cut from the flying glass and I haven't a clue in the wild world why I wasn't killed."

Mr Molloy said he had lived in the area for 47 years and "bothers no one".

Also in the paper, reporter Christine McBurney gives a dramatic account of a police drug bust she accompanied in Crumlin.

Horrifying abuse

The front of the Mourne Observer carries the horrifying abuse carried out by Gary and Heather Talbot.

The couple from Newcastle, County Down, were jailed this week for various offences connected to the sexual abuse and rape of a child.

Image copyright Pacemaker Press
Image caption Gary and Heather Talbot were convicted of a range of sex offences

A statement from the victim, who remained anonymous, was read out outside Downpatrick Crown Court, which was sitting in Belfast for the trial.

"I am glad that my abusers have finally faced justice and will have to serve time in prison for what they did to me," the statement read.

Elsewhere, the paper has a more uplifting piece of news.

A traditional red telephone box which has taken pride of place in the village of Spa, County Down, has been saved.

Its removal had been threatened after it was vandalised last year, with its glass panes smashed and its door removed for health and safety reasons.

After initially considering its removal, BT - which operates the phone box - had a change of heart and has decided to keep it.

'It's as easy as ordering a takeaway'

The creeping influence of drugs and a rise in A&E admissions makes the front of the Fermanagh Herald.

Under a headline reading "Teens turn from alcohol to drugs", the paper carries the accounts of a number of parents speaking anonymously.

Image copyright tlnors/Getty Images
Image caption A student told the Fermanagh Herald it was easier to buy a bag of cocaine or MDMA than to go to the bar and drink rounds

"It's not a city thing anymore, it's happening just as much in rural households - it's as easy as ordering a takeaway," said one parent.

Adrian Ormsby, an addiction professional based in Irvinestown, told the paper the "types of substances that are being used today are a lot more varied and complex".

One student told the paper it was easier to buy a bag of cocaine or MDMA than to go to the bar and drink rounds.

From hard drugs, to no drugs - inside the paper has a feature on people who can give 'the cure'.

It is the phenomenon of alternative traditional treatments which remain popular throughout the island of Ireland.

"Young people still come to me, many of them come after their parents have recommended it. The belief is still there," said Pat McGrade, a local farmer and curer.

It is believed these cures can work for things as varied as hay fever, whooping cough, and warts.

Patients' documents found

Over in County Armagh, there has been a worrying incident of the information of the patients of Craigavon Hospital being compromised.

Image copyright Portadown Times

An unnamed man tells the Portadown Times he found documents while out walking with his six-year-old daughter.

The documents were dated to the 17 January, and included details on 18 named patients, including age, social history, a brief medical history, and the reason the person was admitted to hospital.

"How would you feel if it was your mother or father or grandparent?" asks the document finder.

The Southern Health Trust, which has responsibility for Craigavon Hospital, said the documents should not have left the site.

The paper also talks to 'Ironman' Simon Caulfield, who is about to take part in a 10km race five months after suffering a mini-stroke.

Methadone death

The front page of the Strabane Chronicle reports on the trial of a man accused of murder.

Stephen McKinney denies murdering his wife Lu Na McKinney during a boat trip to Fermanagh in April 2017.

A jury of nine men and three women have been selected to hear evidence at the trial.

The paper also reports on an inquest into the death of a 35-year-old resident of the town in 2018.

James Devlin died after accidentally overdosing on a lethal cocktail of drugs, the paper reports.

Coroner Dr Dennis McCauley recorded a finding of misadventure in the case.