Northern Ireland

Weekly Newspapers: Family reunion and prisoner escape bid

Antrim Guardian Image copyright Antrim Guardian
Ulster Gazette Image copyright Ulster Gazette
Londonderry Sentinel Image copyright Londonderry Sentinel
Fermanagh Herald Image copyright Fermanagh Herald
Tyrone Constitution Image copyright Tyrone Constitution
Newry Democrat Image copyright Newry Democrat

The Antrim Guardian tells the poignant story of a family reunion on its front page.

"Ever since he could remember, all David Martin wanted to do was to shake the hand of a member of his birth family," writes reporter Clare Weir.

A front-page picture shows David and his cousin, Gerry Allen, hugging as they meet for the first time.

The newspaper had a role in this story. It waved its fairy godmother wand and helped David get his appeal out there to find his relatives.

David, 65, had been put up for adoption by his mother in London. All he knew was that her name was Allen and that his mother came from Menin Road, Antrim.

He emailed the Antrim Guardian in May and, within 48 hours of the newspaper hitting the stands, his cousin, Gerry made contact.

"Last Thursday, amid emotional scenes, David walked into St Comgall's parish centre to a huge round of applause and shook Gerry's hand, 'completing the circle' as he described it," says the paper.

Image copyright Antrim Guardian
Image caption David Martin sees a picture of his mother for the first time

David came to Ireland with a file full of documents including harrowing letters from his mother Mary Allen telling how she could not afford to support her child.

The paper also features the story of artist Zoe Baysting who "has the world at her feet" but still feels "drawn" (ouch) to Antrim.

It says that Zoe has been invited to exhibit and sell her work on the online Saatchi Gallery. She has already found one New York client.

She has a studio in Riverside, Antrim, and aims to keep her art "as affordable as possible", she says.

The Ulster Gazette's front-page headline reads: "Kids booze party shock".

The paper says police had to remove a two-litre bottle of cider from a 14-year-old girl at the weekend.

The Gazette says children are being "bussed in" from Portadown to Tandragee so that they can meet up at underage drinking dens.

'Fiasco'

It quotes a local police inspector who reminds parents to ensure that they know where their children are.

The Gazette also looks back 50 years to a gas explosion at Callan Street, Armagh, in 1967.

Five-year-old Brendan Donnelly was killed and 19 others were injured in two separate blasts on 21 and 22 July.

The paper's headline at the time reads: "Like war-time bomb blast with casualties".

The paper reported that a leading forensics expert was one of 16 people injured in the second explosion - he had been investigating the first blast at the time.

Special tribute was paid to a Constable Orr from Orangefield.

"He was seen staggering from the tunnel with a child in his arms after extinguishing its clothing and who, despite his injuries, drove the police car full of casualties to our City Hospital," said the paper.

Under the headline: "Left in Limbo", the Newry Democrat features a picture of Caoimhe McDonnell. The paper says she is one of "many children" in the Newry and Mourne area who are not getting respite care.

Caoimhe, 15, has Down's Syndrome and her father, Jim, is accusing the Southern Trust of "mismanagement" over respite arrangements.

He claims the trust has cancelled pre-booked care for children who need respite and this can happen sometimes with just an hour's notice.

He is the chairman of Carrickore Respite Parents Group and claims the group is about to disband over this "fiasco".

Image copyright Liz Boyle/Newry Democrat
Image caption The paper says Caoimhe McDonnell has been 'Left in Limbo'

The Southern Trust told the paper it fully appreciated the importance of short breaks for children and young people with disabilities and the significant impact that can have on families.

The spokesperson said young people could have a range of behaviours and needs can escalate quickly which means it may be necessary, on occasion, to cancel or rearrange planned breaks.

'Chaotic scenes'

In the paper's Down Memory Lane section, retired butcher Fred McElroy reflects on how times have changed since his father, Paddy, opened his first butcher's shop in Water Street, Newry.

His father kept pigs in the yard and, in the war years, there was a brisk trade in rabbit. People ate more offal back then too - liver and kidneys were very popular up until the 1980s, he said.

Highland dancers and pipers feature on the front page of the Londonderry Sentinel under the headline: "Relief of City to draw thousands".

The paper says about 8,000 Apprentice Boys accompanied by 150 bands are to take to the streets of Derry on Saturday and that this year's parade will be led by a band from England for the first time.

It is the culmination of the Maiden City Festival which, the Sentinel says, is expected to attract 30,000 people over the four days.

The paper also reports on the unveiling of a blue plaque in the city dedicated to Irish poet Francis Ledwidge who was killed in World War One.

The plaque is at Ebrington Square - the site of the old barracks where the "poet of the blackbird" was stationed during his time with the Inniskilling Fusiliers.

"He is thought to have written many of his most famous pieces of poetry there," says the paper.

Image caption The Apprentice Boys parade is the culmination of the Maiden City Festival (Archive picture from last year)

The Fermanagh Herald's front page describes chaotic scenes in Enniskillen town centre on Monday when a prisoner in handcuffs made an escape bid from police custody.

It says Connor Floyd, 19, from Main Street in Maguiresbridge made off from a police car as he was being transported to Enniskillen Magistrates Court for a bail hearing.

He was pursued by police on foot and in patrol cars, with Monday's court proceedings being "delayed by almost half an hour while the incident was ongoing", before Floyd was returned to custody.

The paper also reports that the fight to save the stroke unit at South West Acute Hospital has stepped up a gear, with a large crowd attending a public meeting in Enniskillen on Monday night.

It says the unit is under threat as part of a proposed shake-up at health trusts across Northern Ireland, but notes that the Western Trust has repeatedly stressed to the Herald that they intend to keep it open.

Elsewhere, the paper reports that an online petition has been launched calling for all services at the hospital to be protected and enhanced.

The front page of the Tyrone Constitution reflects a councillor's concerns about road safety in the West Tyrone area.

Ulster Unionist councillor Bert Wilson says communities in West Tyrone are suffering because of "miserably inadequate funding", speeding motorists, and Stormont deadlock.

He adds: "Road safety is one thing that has been compromised as a result and I have to ask is it going to take a tragedy to see action?"

The Department for Infrastructure said West Tyrone has had an "equitable share of the limited funding available" and highlighted a range of "recent substantial resurfacing works and other ancillary improvements along sections of roads".

The PSNI said it had conducted speed detection and awareness operations in Greencastle and Rouskey in recent days after concerns were raised by residents.