Northern Ireland

Weekly newspapers: Farage, fashion and ferrets feature

Image copyright Ballymena Guardian
Image copyright Lurgan Mail
Image copyright Newry Democrat
Image copyright Fermanagh Herald
Image copyright Derry News
Image copyright Strabane Chronicle

Nigel Farage perhaps isn't the first person you would expect to see mentioned on the front page of one of our weekly papers - but we like to keep you on your toes here in the paper review.

'Farage backs Paisley' is the story on the front of this week's Ballymena Guardian.

The former UKIP leader and "arch" Brexit campaigner has got behind outgoing North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley.

Image copyright Getty Images

His support came in the form of a letter, seen by the paper.

Mr Paisley said: "I worked closely with Nigel across the Brexit campaign and I am delighted that he has given me this superb endorsement.

"This is Nigel's main intervention in the general election and I am honoured."

Portglenone to Miss World

Inside the paper there's more glamour, as the area can now boast its very own Miss Northern Ireland.

Portglenone's Anna Henry beat 23 other hopefuls to take the prize in an event at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.

Image copyright Brendan Gallagher
Image caption Anna Henry will go on to compete in Miss World

Not only does she get to wear the crown (and title), but she also won a car, a new wardrobe, a personal trainer, a modelling contract and an all-expenses paid trip to Miss World.

Speaking after the competition, Miss Henry said the competition had changed her life.

"Taking part in this competition has been such a great experience and I never thought I would come this far," she said.

In the Newry Democrat there's bad news from one survey that has ranked the city as the "second-worst place" to raise a family.

The second-worst city in the UK that is - beaten to the bottom only by London.

Businessman's funeral

The third-worst, according to the survey, was Armagh - Newry's neighbouring city.

The survey, by Moneysupermarket, took into account things like burglaries, jobs, house prices and incomes.

The paper notes that Newry does not have a park and says green space in the area is, admittedly, an issue.

No Northern Ireland cities made it into the top-10 places to raise a family - harsh!

Another stats story for you - Newry has come in just behind Belfast for parking tickets in the first three months of 2017, the paper reports.

Ferret Krypton Factor

It says figures from the Department of Infrastructure last week show 1,919 on-street and 671 off-street tickets were issued.

In the Lurgan Mail there is a special tribute to local man, Victor Stewart.

A picture of the businessman's funeral procession dominates the front page.

What appears to be a large crowd of mourners followed the hearse of the Ulster Unionist Party member and Orangeman.

The paper says Mr Stewart was in his late 60s and died in hospital last Friday.

One tribute reads: "Lurgan is a poorer town and community for losing him."

Image copyright TomLester
Image caption Ferret X Factor is taking place in Banbridge this weekend

Inside the paper is a look forward to some of the weekend's events - including a ferret race featuring 400 of the furry little creatures.

The race is part of the Scarvagh House Fair in Banbridge which takes place on 27 and 28 May.

Other events include ferret X Factor and ferret Krypton Factor.

Also this weekend, the An Post Ras cycling event will be passing through Fermanagh.

The race has been going since 1953 and attracts some of the biggest names in world cycling to Ireland, reports the Fermanagh Herald.

Image copyright gpointstudio
Image caption Staff have been written to by the council's chief, Brendan Hegarty

On the front page of the paper there's a story about staff sickness at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

According to the report, staff take an average of 13 days off work on top of holidays and have been "warned" about rising and "unsustainable" absenteeism.

Staff have been written to by the council's chief, Brendan Hegarty.

'We just ran'

The letter says that the target for staff absence is 10.5 days but that was not met last year.

Commenting on the letter a council spokesperson said: "The letter was an internal communication from the chief executive to council employees pursuant to a management initiative aimed at managing absence efficiently."

The Strabane Chronical leads with a local witness to the story which has rocked the UK this week.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Monday night's attack at Manchester Arena killed 22 people - including children

"Narrowly avoided Manchester blast," reads the headline.

Evan McCormick has told the paper how he finished work at a shop in the arena just minutes before the deadly bomb exploded.

"I had just gone through the doors towards the station," he said.

"The noise was huge and the light was huge, we didn't know what it was but I couldn't help but think it was a bomb.

"We just ran."

Marathon effort

Also in the paper is the story of a man who will run the Londonderry marathon while pushing a hospital bed.

There'll be no snoozing for Bill Duncan as he tackles the whole 26.2 miles.

He will be solely responsible for getting the bed across the finish line, but hopes to get help from other runners along the course.

Finally, in the Derry News, there's more on the Manchester bombing.

Six young people from Derry escaped injury in what the paper calls the "horrific" attack.

On the front page there are photographs of each of the six - including Niamh Woods, who was working at the arena on the night of the bombing and Sarah Harkin, who was also in the area at the time.