Northern Ireland

Weekly newspaper review: Christmas cuts, drug dens and golf magic

Lurgan Mail Image copyright Lurgan Mail
Down Recorder Image copyright Down Recorder
Mid-Ulster Mail 07/07 Image copyright Mid-Ulster Mail
Impartial Reporter 7th July Image copyright Impartial Reporter
Coleraine Chronicle Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle
Antrim Guardian Image copyright Antrim Guardian

Holes-in-one, black-and-white TVs and salacious sex acts at drug dens are among the stories in Northern Ireland's weekly newspapers.

First up, the Down Recorder says that "Scrooge-like" officials at Newry, Mourne and Down Council want to slash spending on Christmas celebrations.

The plan, that includes axing Newcastle's celebrated steel Christmas tree, was rejected by councillors.

Instead, a council working party will revisit the matter ahead of next year.

Among the paper's court cases is that of a 23-year-old Castlewellan man who took a car without permission because he was late for work.

Unfortunately, he crashed into a road sign, a fence and a telephone pole. He was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £900.

'My heart wrenches'

Over in the Antrim Guardian, the paper prints the witness impact statement of murder victim Nelson Cheung's daughter.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Nelson Cheung was murdered after locking up his restaurant

Mr Cheung, a Ballymena businessman, was stabbed 18 times during a robbery after he locked up his Randalstown restaurant in January 2015.

"I am incredibly sad. The deep grief is so intense that my heart wrenches every time I think of my father," his daughter, who did not want her name published, said.

Mr Cheung was only two months away from retirement when he was murdered.

Elsewhere, the paper takes a nostalgic trip back to the 1980s as it remembers the A26 Bulldogs American football team.

One of the team's founding members, Jim Delargey, adds his memories to the piece.

"We were probably the first to have our own home and away kits - we were very flash!"

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The glory days of 1980s American football in Northern Ireland are revisited in the Antrim Guardian

In County Armagh, the Lurgan Mail leads with news that police patrols are to be increased after reports of salacious sex acts at a notorious "drink and drugs den" in a town alley.

Councillor David Robinson, who lives in the area, says that men and women aged from their 30s to their 60s have been drinking and taking drugs at Trasna Way.

He said there had also been "lewd acts" involving men and teenage girls.

Image copyright Lurgan Mail
Image caption The alleyway at Trasna Way in Lurgan is home to a "drink and drugs den"

Mr Robinson welcomed the extra police commitment, but said a simple solution would be to put a gate across the alley's entrance.

Judge calls man 'scum'

Meanwhile, a man convicted of racially abusing a McDonald's employee has been described as "scum" by a Craigavon Magistrates Court judge.

The court was told that 20-year-old Aghagallon man Declan Lavery had written a letter of apology to the injured party, but that this had not been accepted.

"He thinks more of himself than to be associated with scum like Mr Lavery," Judge Bernie Kelly said.

In the week that the Irish Open takes place in Portstewart, the Coleraine Chronicle reports that a £15m four-star hotel on the outskirts of the town has been given planning permission.

The hotel will be on a site beside the North West 200 paddock and will include a motorbike exhibition. It is due to open in 2019, just in time for the Open being staged at Royal Portrush.

The paper also reports on the death of Coleraine man Edmund Rice, who died after an altercation in County Waterford where he moved to a number of years ago.

A 22-year-old man has been charged with assault causing harm.

Golfing magic

Meanwhile, the Mid Ulster Mail has news of unlikely golfing magic at Castledawson's Moyola course.

Not one, but two holes-in-one hit on consecutive holes by local women Mandy Higgins and Julie McKee.

The club now plans to contact the Guinness Book of Records to see if a precedent has been set.

In a less colourful story, the paper says Dungannon has made the top 20 across the UK for homes still using a black and white TV Licence.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Forty-nine homes in the Dungannon area still have black and white TVs

According to TV Licencing there are 49 homes in the area that have not yet converted to that 'new fangled' colour TV, placing the town in 17th place.

Over in County Fermanagh, the Impartial Reporter says that despite a reported rise in domestic and sexual violence in the county, Fermanagh Women's Aid has received a 6.5% funding cut from the Department of Communities.

The paper says the cut comes weeks after Concepta Leonard was murdered in Maguiresbridge by her former partner.

She had been awaiting one-to-one service from Women's Aid at the time of her death.

"Cock-fighting"

Meanwhile, a man who last week announced plans to hold a "cock-fighting contest" in Irvinestown has been visited by police, the paper reports.

Joe Mahon, who organises the Lady of the Lake Festival, said the reaction to his announcement had been "wild altogether". Police have said that following the meeting, Mr Mahon confirmed no illegal cock-fighting event would take place.

Mr Mahon told the Impartial Reporter that "no actual cocks will be used in the event".

"We thought people would have seen this event like all the other events, a bit of harmless fun but a lot of people have taken it the wrong way and I have received a lot of abuse from people."