Northern Ireland

Weekly newspaper review: Martin McGuinness dominates headlines

Martin McGuinness Image copyright Derry Journal Wednesday 22th March
Derry Journal front page 24th March Image copyright Derry Journal
Londonderry Sentinel front page Wednesday 22nd March Image copyright Londonderry Sentinel
Impartial Reporter front page 24th March Image copyright Impartial Reporter
Down Recorder Image copyright AFP
Ballymena Guardian Image copyright Ballymena Guardian

The eyes of the world turned to Derry this week following the death of one of its most famous sons, Martin McGuinness .

The Derry Journal published a special edition of the newspaper on Wednesday following his death, and followed it up with extensive coverage of Mr McGuinness' funeral in Friday's edition.

The front page reflected the death and funeral of not just the former Sinn Féin leader but also of Derry City captain Ryan McBride, whose funeral also took place on Thursday.

The headline: "A city in mourning".

On Mr McGuinness, the paper quotes Denis Bradley - a well-know Derry man and former co-chairman of a group set up to deal with the legacy of the Troubles - who said there were always "dove-like aspects to McGuinness".

"I don't think he was as hawkish as people make him out to be at times," he told the Journal.

"He had, to my mind, an over-commitment to the republican movement, I realised he didn't like violence and he didn't like injury and death and destruction for the sake of it. When it could be avoided he did it."

The newspaper also pays tribute to Mr McBride with a special back page.

Image copyright BBC Sport
Image caption The Derry Journal's back-page tribute to Ryan McBride

Instead of the usual sports news, the page is decorated in Derry City's red and white stripes and features the words of a poem read out by manager Kenny Shiels during the funeral of the "gentle giant".

Meanwhile, the Londonderry Sentinel leads on "mixed emotions" over the death of Mr McGuinness.

'Diverse opinions'

Inside, on page three, the headline points towards the divisive legacy Mr McGuinness has left behind.

"Many struggle to come to terms with his past", it reads.

On its front page, the city's DUP mayor Hilary McClintock calls him "a towering figure in Northern Ireland in general and in the city of Londonderry in particular".

There would be a "diverse range of opinions" about him, she said, but he had a passion for the city and the North West.

The Impartial Reporter, in Fermanagh, also focuses heavily on the funeral of Mr McGuinness, particularly the reaction of DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Its print edition came out on Thursday morning, before the event, meaning the front page leads with the uncertainty over whether Mrs Foster would be present.

Image caption DUP leader Arlene Foster only confirmed on Thursday morning that she would be going to the funeral of her former Stormont colleague

However, its website has full coverage of the event including reaction to Mrs Foster's decision to attend.

In the print edition, Denzil McDaniel, the paper's former editor, offers his own view of Martin McGuinness.

"Man of war or man of peace? Well, both actually, that is the contradiction."

Hospital visit

He writes that the hurt and pain caused by the IRA and Mr McGuinness "cannot be dismissed" but adds: "I believe his transformation to peace was a real and genuine one, not a tactical one but a heartfelt desire."

The Ulster Herald is another paper devoting plenty of coverage to the death of Martin McGuinness - it leads with the reveal that he visited a police officer's hospital bed following a bomb attack in 2008.

The officer told the paper: "I remember him visiting and I remember thinking it was something important. I found out later that he had never visited a police officer in hospital before.

"So I think I was the first. I suppose it was his way of saying that his party was supportive of policing."

Elsewhere in the paper, it covers the recent publication of names of firms that benefit from subsidies under the botched RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) scheme.

It has produced an interactive map showing all the claimants across County Tyrone - you can see it online.

'Complete nonsense'

The Down Recorder lead story centres on the death of Neil Rooney, 33, from Ballyhornan, following an industrial accident at Belfast's Harbour Estate.

"Father of two dies in tragic work accident," reads the headline and the report carries tributes and sympathy for the Rooney family from politicians and friends who call the loss "devastating and heart breaking".

Inside, the newspaper says there is concern over a decision to close a PSNI enquiry office in Newcastle.

The office will be shut in two weeks, leaving the station in Downpatrick as the only one in the district that has an office for the public.

In an editorial, the Down Recorder accused the PSNI of "trying to dress up the closure as improved policing" and of "strangely claiming social media is making such offices redundant".

The paper's response? "This is complete nonsense."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The Down Recorder hit out at a decision to close the public enquiry office at Newcastle PSNI station

"Along with other public services, police have been forced to retrench and what has been forced upon them represents a reduction in the service that is offered to the public.

"Please tell it as it is and stop trying to kid the community that all is well."

Bridge fall warning

Over in the Orchard County, the Armagh Observer reports concerns about a bridge over the River Callan leading to a nature reserve at the edge of Milford village.

Parents living close by are worried that it is an "accident waiting to happen," says the paper.

"A hole large enough for a child to fall through has now appeared," the paper reports, adding that an issue about ownership may be the reason why the bridge has fallen into disrepair.

Inside, the paper features world champion Irish dancer Joe McGeown. He may be from London but he has "no scarcity of Granemore blood in his veins", says the paper.

Joe's father, Dessie, hails from there and Joe has dedicated his recent world championship award to his late aunt, Ann O'Neill from Granemore, Tassagh, who died in January.

Meanwhile, an unholy row is brewing in Broughshane over a church hall, the Ballymena Guardian reports.

'Draconian and dirty'

Under the headline: "Church hall demolition plan left 'in ruins'", it says that the Magill Hall in the village has been made a listed building, thwarting plans to demolish it and replace it with a new modern hall.

The hall is owned by Broughshane First Presbyterian Church and the Guardian reports that churchgoers are not best pleased - they were looking forward to an up-to-date, all mod-cons hall.

DUP MLA Paul Frew, who attends the church, says it was "dirty" of the Department of Communities Historic Environment Division to list it.

"This is an incredibly draconian decision," he told the paper.

Remaining on matters holy, Ballymena is proud of its connection to St Patrick and 17 March is a special day.

"Saint Patrick back on the throne of Slemish," reads the Guardian headline with a host of photographs from the day.

Slemish was where the boy Patrick herded the sheep after he had been kidnapped and served as a slave to local chieftain Milchú.

On St Patrick's Day, the paper reports that a play was performed on the slopes of Slemish, telling the story of the Irish saint.

The paper says there was even a real-life Patrick treading the boards - the role of the saint was taken by a local - Patrick Connor, 17 - who lives on the slopes of Ballymena's holy mountain.

He is pictured flat on his back, taking what looks like a bucket-load of grief from Chieftain Milchú.