Northern Ireland

Wall tourist terror; surge in help calls

The front page of Friday's Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror
The front page of Friday's News Letter Image copyright News Letter

On the day of her burial, County Fermanagh murder victim Connie Leonard's legacy is already being felt.

The 51-year-old was found dead at her Maguiresbridge home on Monday, believed to have been stabbed by an ex-partner.

And as Friday's Belfast Telegraph reports, the killing's sparked "an influx... of women seeking support" from an anti-domestic violence charity.

"It's sad that it takes this to make it happen," Kerrie Flood from Fermanagh Women's Aid tells the paper.

Domestic violence is also tackled in the paper's opinion pages, with its editorial saying there is "undoubtedly still a stigma attached to it in many women's minds that prevents them disclosing what they are suffering".

Fionola Meredith uses her column to say that tackling the crime should be given greater focus over "pantomime battles about the colour of female politicians' hair".

While "a lot of frenzied talk of sexism" has hit the headlines recently, Meredith says that "makes us forget what real, thorough-going, destructive misogyny looks like".

Wall tourists' terror

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The political murals on the International Wall in west Belfast make it a hotspot for tourists

It's one of the most popular spots for visitors to Belfast - the multi-coloured, mural-covered International Wall on the Falls Road.

But tourist visitors have been terrorised by thieves, according to the Irish News, with more than a dozen being targeted in recent months.

Last week, an attempted robbery was captured on CCTV and it sparked a rally against the anti-social behaviour in west Belfast last night.

Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann told the paper that as many as 14 visitors viewing the murals "have been mugged", with the wall becoming a "favourite spot to launch attacks on tourists".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cyclists could have quite a wait for the proposed new bridge in Belfast

Punctured parliament

Stormont's standstill has largely been forgotten as general election fever has increased, but cyclists in Belfast say it has put the skids on a new bridge across the Lagan.

As the Irish News reports, plans to build the "pivotal" £9m crossing over the river have been punctured because there's no infrastructure minister in place to approve the spending.

The traffic-free bridge - earmarked for a site near the city's Gasworks - has planning approval and is expected to be used by about 1,000 pedallers a day.

But will our politicians get the show on the road any time soon or are Belfast's bikers in for a wheely long wait?

As things stand, it looks like it could be an uphill struggle...

Fake card fraud

A row has been rumbling this week over the surge in proxy votes being cast in election in Northern Ireland, and it gathers pace in the News Letter.

After Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said she had concerns about the rise, the SDLP's Mark H Durkan alleged that proxy votes have been obtained illegally in recent polls.

But Sinn Féin brushed those worries off, saying "postal and proxy votes are entirely legitimate".

Now Northern Ireland's chief electoral officer is defending her office after a case emerged in which a man obtained a fake electoral identity card with apparent ease.

The case - relating to benefit fraud - arose in court in Londonderry last week, with a judge criticising the Electoral Office by saying the offender's crime had been "certainly assisted" by its conduct.

In response, chief electoral officer Virginia McVea says her organisation "operates in full compliance with the legal requirements to issue the cards".

Image copyright Donkey Sanctuary
Image caption Lucky's hooves were badly overgrown when he was found in a field in Claudy

Animal tails

We'll leave you this week with some tales (or should that be tails?) of animal magic, courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph.

First up, Lucky the donkey - found abandoned in a field with no apparent owner, he was short on hope when Derry City and Strabane District Council applied for a court order last month to have him rehomed or put down.

The judge said he had a friend who worked at a donkey rehoming centre who might be able to lend a hand.

And now Lucky's loving life at the Donkey Sanctuary in Strabane, with vet Joe Collins saying: "The future looks bright for Lucky."

Then there are the County Down wonderdogs Olaf and Lola, who saved Janette Nelson from an arson attack at her Carrowdore home last week.

The big brown Newfoundlands pounced on their sleeping owner after hearing the noise of the fire, but now she's in temporary accommodation she can't care for them for a while.

Can you help these two gentle giants?