Northern Ireland

NI weekly papers: 'Charming' prince and Rathlin murder mystery

Ballymena Guardian Image copyright Ballymena Guardian
Ulster Gazette Image copyright Ulster Gazette
Mid Ulster Mail Image copyright Mid Ulster Mail
Coleraine Chronicle Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle
Banbridge Chronicle

A charming Prince, a Rathlin Island murder mystery and kettle fraud are among the stories making the headlines in Northern Ireland's weekly papers.

"The People's Prince" exclaims the Ballymena Guardian.

It adds that, after last week's visit to the town, "Prince Harry is officially the royal pride of Ballee".

Judging by the paper's copy and the delight on the faces of the people on its lead picture, Harry could hardly expect a warmer welcome anywhere.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Prince Harry charmed the people of Ballymena

There are three pages of pictures on the inside pages accompanied by a piece entitled: "Prince Charming wows crowds at official opening of Ballee ambulance station".

Bus fall

A miraculous escape for a schoolgirl who fell from a moving bus features in the Fermanagh Herald.

It says the Year 13 pupil at St Kevin's College was thrown from the bus when a back seat window fell out.

The principal of St Kevin's, Gary Kelly, tells the paper: "The bus was travelling at 40 miles per hour. She sustained cuts and bruises and had to get stitches."

He adds: "We are very lucky that we do not have a fatality, or a serious head or spinal injury, on our hands."

Meanwhile, the paper also has an unusual case of kettle fraud.

It says a County Leitrim man caught shoplifting at an Enniskillen Asda store on 7 September had been involved in a previous incident at the store during which he took one kettle from a shelf valued at £32 and one worth £12.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A rare case of kettle fraud in County Fermanagh

He then switched the boxes, paying for the £32 kettle inside the £12 box.

The death of Thelma Gorman is the lead story in the Ulster Gazette.

Mrs Gorman, 67, died in a farming accident involving a cow at her family farm in Armagh last Friday.

She was a well known breeder of pedigree Simmental cattle.

The Gazette says she was a "well-known and high respected cattle breeder and her death has stunned the local community".

On the dole

Also in the paper, former UUP MLA for Newry and Armagh Danny Kennedy says he is "astonished" by the reaction to the fact that he has had to sign up for Job Seeker's Allowance.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Danny Kennedy said he had been taken aback by the response to the fact that he had signed up for Job Seeker's Allowance

The former minister for regional development made the revelation in an interview with Q Radio.

He said he was asked what his current situation was and he simply gave an honest answer.

Coleraine Chronicle

While the rest of the world grabbed their bags and made a frantic dash out of Florida before Hurricane Irma struck last week, the Coleraine Chronicle features a woman who flew into the eye of the storm to comfort her mother.

Joyce Ferder Rankin is pictured in happier times with her mother Marlene on the front page of the paper. She is an American journalist who has made Portballintrae her home.

But her fears for her mother's safety spurred her on her journey.

She was one of the few passengers to fly into Miami airport after 6.3m people were told to evacuate, the paper reports.

Ms Rankin told the paper that she could not let her mother go through the ordeal on her own.

While an aunt and uncle lost their house in the hurricane, her's mother's home suffered only minor damage.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Portballintrae resident Joyce Ferder Rankin flew into the eye of the storm in Florida

Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports that Portstewart writer Bernie McGill has set her new book on Rathlin Island.

The Watch House is a "story of infidelity, secrets and murder in a small Irish island community".

McGill's first novel, The Butterfly Cabinet, was named by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes as his novel of the year.

Public consultation 'farce'

Over in Tyrone, the Mid-Ulster Mail says the Northern Health Trust is planning a second consultation on health cuts after the first was branded "a farce and a sham".

Image copyright Mid Ulster Mail
Image caption Ronan Hughes took his own life after being blackmailed by Iulian Enache

Ulster Unionist councillor Trevor Wilson said if the trust was really concerned about hearing the public's views on proposed £13m cuts, it would not have arranged the consultation for 10:00 on a Monday.

"The trust has a legal duty to consider the views of local people, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the current consultation is already a foregone conclusion," he said.

The trust said it was genuinely interested in trying to capture the views of as many people as possible and, due to demand in Mid Ulster, it had scheduled an additional evening meeting.

The paper also says that Romanian authorities are to appeal the sentence given to the man convicted of blackmailing Clonoe teenager Ronan Hughes, who took his own life.

Iulian Enache, 31, was sentenced to four years in prison. He will serve three before being released.

The Banbridge Chronicle plumps for a little play on words for its lead story.

Under the headline: School Master Plan - get the pun? - the paper reports on "exciting plans" to turn a former primary school into a business enterprise park.

Raymond Fegan is the man behind the plan, and the new owner of what was once Loughbrickland Primary School has a personal interest in the school - he learned his two-times table there.

Before the old school yard becomes what the Chronicle calls "a multi-purpose facility for local business initiatives", a day of nostalgia is planned featuring displays and pictures dating back to the 1954 class.

Elsewhere, the paper reports on an a telecommunications mast which, it says, was erected at Knock Iveagh hill last week without permission.

The paper says the hill has been "hugely significant since Neolithic times" and a round "cist cairn" dates back to 3700 BC.

"Knock Iveagh may not be as well known as other historic sites, such as Navan Fort, Newgrange of the Hill of Tara, however it is exceptionally rare and important," a spokesperson for the Friends of Knock Iveagh told the Chronicle.

A retrospective application had been submitted to the council for consideration.