Northern Ireland

Weekly newspaper review: Teen drinking and gun licences

The front page of the Portadown Times
Image caption The front page of the Portadown Times
The front page of the County Derry Post
Image caption The front page of the County Derry Post
The front page of the Ballymoney Chronicle
Image caption The front page of the Ballymoney Chronicle
The front page of the County Down Outlook
Image caption The front page of the County Down Outlook
The front page of the Mid-Ulster Mail
Image caption The front page of the Mid-Ulster Mail

Teenage drinkers, firearm licences and the impact of the Assembly election feature in the weekly papers.

Police say 25 teens must sit an alcohol-awareness course after being found under the influence in Cookstown, County Tyrone, reports the Mid-Ulster Mail.

The paper says the town has had a number of issues with young drinkers in the past, which both police and community representatives have tried to tackle.

Meanwhile, the paper reports that gun owners without internet access are counting the cost of the PSNI's move towards an online-only application system for firearm licences.

As well as the price of a licence nearly doubling in the past five years, one registered firearms dealer in Mid-Ulster is charging up to £40 to fill out the requisite forms; another intends to when they "get their heads around the system".

The PSNI said: "In light of firearms dealers being private enterprises, it is at the discretion of each individual business whether or not they apply a fee for completing the form."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police in Cookstown say 25 teenagers must sit an alcohol-awareness course

The impact of the Assembly election is the hot topic in various newspapers including the Fermanagh Herald and the County Down Outlook.

The Herald has the front-page headline "Going Nowhere" and says that with the potential political deadlock between the DUP and Sinn Féin, the people of Fermanagh are "now facing the double whammy of both Brexit and direct rule under the Tories".

It says voter turnout was up by almost 9% in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and that the main beneficiaries were nationalist parties, with Sinn Féin getting its three candidates elected.

The Outlook, meanwhile, reports on Ulster Unionist Harold McKee's disappointment at losing his Assembly seat after just 10 months.

Image caption Body cameras are being introduced for police officers in Fermanagh

The former quarry manager from Kilkeel tells the paper he is currently planning a break from politics, but does not rule out putting his name forward in the future.

"I suppose if another election is called I will stand again," he says.

The paper's other front page story is about an incident at the weekend when a police car was rammed at Corbet near Banbridge.

Two police officers sustained minor injuries. A man was arrested and later released on police bail, pending further enquiries.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Argos store in Portadown's High Street Mall is set to close this summer

Meanwhile, the Herald reports that police in Fermanagh will now wear video cameras while on duty.

It says video evidence "enables the raw emotion and action from a scene to be replayed in the courts in a manner that could never be captured in a witness statement".

The Ballymoney Chronicle brings the future of an after-school club into focus.

The parents of 88 children have been told by the chair of the Board of Governors at Ballymoney Model Primary School that "Kidz Club" will have to vacate the premises by 20 August.

The club's committee has said it was "shocked and saddened" to receive the notice.

The letter said enrolment at the school had soared since the club began in 2012 and that the decision was "difficult, yet necessary".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Ard Na Smoll in Dungiven was the scene of a shooting last weekend which features in the County Derry Post

The demolition of "eyesore buildings" in Ballymoney's Linenhall Street is also highlighted, including a striking image of a digger surrounded by rubble.

The Chronicle says a "wooden hoarding will be put up around the area as an expectant public waits to see what the plan is for the future development of the site".

The County Derry Post has an interview with a man following a gun attack on his daughter's Dungiven home.

Hugh Hazlett said his daughter, Clodagh, had been attending her late partner's wake when the shooting took place.

Mr Hazlett said his teenage grandson had been left "traumatised" as a result of the incident at Ard Na Smoll.

"He is innocent, vulnerable and shouldn't be subject to armed and camouflaged men in masks, wielding weapons, and engaging in a heinous attack," he said.

'Dangerous parking'

The Portadown Times leads with the story that the Argos store in the town's High Street Mall is set to close this summer.

It is thought that more than 20 jobs are affected by the decision which is part of a rationalisation plan after a £1.4bn takeover by Sainsbury's last year.

An Argos spokesperson said it was "currently in discussions with colleagues and where possible, will look to relocate them to other stores".

The paper also reports a parent's concern that parking congestion near Millington Primary School is putting young people's lives at risk.

"The parking has got beyond a joke," Sam Preston said. "Something needs done before a child gets knocked down."

School principal Heather Murray said the safety of children was paramount and that it had been involved in "numerous meetings" about the matter.

She added that she hoped a joint community project and new traffic laws would help tackle the issue.

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