Northern Ireland

Weekly newspaper review: Bulgarian booze-binge and Irish immigrants

Ulster Gazette Image copyright Ulster Gazette
Lurgan Mail Image copyright Lurgan Mail
Coleraine Times Image copyright Coleraine Times
Impartial Reporter Image copyright Impartial Reporter
Antrim Guardian Image copyright Antrim Guardian

'Man on 11-day booze binge caught with deadly weapons at airport' - well, that'll get the weekly paper review started.

The Ulster Gazette carries the story of a Portadown man who was stopped on his way back from a Bulgarian 'lad's holiday' with a knuckle duster, stun device, extendable baton and pepper spray.

Image copyright ra3rn
Image caption A border force officer said flights from Bulgaria are 'high profile' (stock image of a knuckleduster)

Conor Seeley, 23, of Charlestown Road, contested eight charges against him, but a district judge found him guilty of all the offences.

He said: "When people come back from Spain they bring sombreros and donkeys, you brought back pepper spray."

A border force officer giving evidence in the case told the court that "lots" of offensive weapons are brought in from Bulgaria and flights from the area were "high profile" for that reason.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Thirty firefighters tackled the blaze at a terraced house in Culdee Drive

Also in the paper is "utter devastation" in Armagh following the death of 55-year-old Barry Toal in a house fire last week.

The Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Gareth Keating, said: "This is a tight-knit community and we will do what we can to support those affected by this tragedy."

'Eyes and pulse'

In the Antrim Guardian, a former lifeguard is hailed a hero after he rescued a man from drowning in the Six Mile Water river in the town.

Graham Vaughan, 22, raced from his home through the centre of Antrim to the opposite side of the bank of the river in the early hours of last Tuesday after he heard screaming.

"I looked outside and I could see a woman on the banks and a taxi," he told the paper.

"She was shouting for help and pointing and I could see someone in the river.

"I just ran, I wasn't even thinking, I was still in my shorts."

Mr Vaughan said his lifeguard training came in handy even after the man was dragged from the water.

"Just the little things like checking for ID, talking to him and checking his eyes and pulse are important," he said.

Thankfully, the police said the man would make a full recovery from his ordeal.

Inside the paper we go from a hero to a villain as South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan recalls being just yards away from the Westminster attack last Wednesday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police surrounded the attacker on the courtyard in front of Parliament

Mr Kinahan told the paper he was about to go into the chamber to take part in a vote when he heard the commotion outside.

"There was a lot of screaming and shouting and shouts and 'get downs' - word spread very quickly," he said.

"Business was suspended and we were told we were in lockdown.

"We had all been aware there had been training exercises for this sort of thing so when the dreadful day finally came it swung into action."

In the Lurgan Mail is a celebration of Special Olympian Caolán McConville.

Image copyright McConville family
Image caption The skier was welcomed back to his home town last Saturday

The Aghagallan lad won a silver and a bronze medal at the World Winter Games in Austria and also led Team Ireland out at the official opening ceremony.

His picture is given pride of place on the paper's front page along with his granny, Margaret.

The skier was welcomed back to his home town last Saturday by friends and family and given a "hero's welcome" as he proudly displayed his medals.

He said: "I went down the Giant Slalom and it was hard, I fell over but I picked myself up again and went really fast."

The paper also reports on the court case of a learner driver who was caught speeding when he overtook a police car.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Martin McGuinness served as Northern Ireland's deputy first minister for ten years

Jason Stephen Lavery, of Brownlow Terrace in Lisburn had been driving at 98mph when he was caught with no license or insurance in October last year.

The Coleraine Times reports on a "backlash" over a book of condolences for former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.

The book was opened in the council offices in Coleraine follwing his death last Tuesday.

TUV councillors Boyd Douglas, William Blair and Alderman Sharon McKillop said in a joint statement that the book was "an insult to victims".

"The decision of the SDLP mayor to open a book of condolences to self-confessed IRA commander McGuinness is an unnecessarily divisive act.

"It is insulting to many victims of IRA violence who have had to listen to nauseating praise of someone whose wicked terrorist organisation visited death and destruction on many families in Ulster."

But the front page of the paper has a much more positive vibe - with a declaration that the town has "a new lease of life" now that a £220k rejuvenation scheme has come to an end.

The investment involved about 70 businesses and has given a new look to some of the town's streets.

The Impartial Reporter leads with a story about a Fermanagh man who they report was detained in Boston after he outstayed his visa for five years.

The "undocumented immigrant" recently married an American and faces an anxious wait as President Trump continues to crack down on illegal immigrants.

The man's Boston-based lawyer said: "Just by his tone Mr Trump has "unleashed the dogs in the system and is taking a much harsher, blunter approach.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Donald Trump celebrated St. Patrick's Day with Enda Kenny

"It has already got more serious."

Also on the front page of the paper is local actor-turned-author, Ciarán McMenamin, who has released his first book - Skintown.

The story follows Vinny Duffy, trapped working in a takeaway as the wider world falls in to the drug-driven dawn of rave culture.

A random act of kindness leads Vinny to the most unlikely business opportunity.

The novel is described as "a supercharged debut, zinging with confidence and intelligence" in a review by novelist Joseph O'Connor.

In the Ulster Herald there's a warning about farm safety from the son of a man who died after a bull attack.

Raymond McClinchey's father Alex was 75 and on the family farm near Omagh on Tuesday when the incident happened.

Mr McClinchey said: "I just hope that this is the last death like this, but know that unfortunately it probably won't be.

"Maybe my father's death will save another life by making farmers act on the need for safety.

"Please don't take chances."

Also in the paper is an investigation which is ongoing after a major slurry spill near Omagh which forced the closure of the main A5 route on Monday.

According to the paper there are fears that the spill could pollute the area's waterways.

The Environment Agency confirmed to the paper that the slurry had entered a local stream. It is not known, however, what impact that will have.