Northern Ireland

Weekly paper review: Firework fears and a charitable 'slagging group'

Firework Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The PSNI issued a warning about the dangers of fireworks
Presentational white space
Impartial Reporter Image copyright Impartial Reporter
Presentational white space
Front page of the Antrim and Ballymena Times Image copyright Antrim and Ballymena Times
Presentational white space
Newry Democrat front page
Presentational white space
Ulster Herald Image copyright Ulster Herald
Presentational white space
Lurgan Mail Image copyright Lurgan Mail
Presentational white space
Coleraine Chronicle Image copyright Coleraine Chronicle
Presentational white space

Warnings about fireworks and the plight faced by Wrightbus workers since the company went into administration all feature in Northern Ireland's weekly papers.

But first we're looking at an Impartial Reporter exclusive about a gang of convicted criminals that allegedly prostituted teenagers from a children's home in Killadeas almost 20 years ago.

Teenagers from Brindley House were brought to properties around County Fermanagh where they were drugged and raped, according to the paper.

An alleged victim told the Impartial Reporter: "You were in a relationship with this person who's portraying to be this person, but you were being prostituted out to all their friends and all their contacts... at 13".

'Groomed significantly'

A former employee of the children's home said the teenagers were "being groomed significantly".

"The children were being taken away on a regular basis, they were being plied with drugs, with alcohol, with mobile phones."

Image copyright Getty Images

Away from its Brindley House investigation the paper also highlights concerns from local fishermen over solid sewage being discharged into the River Erne.

The fishermen said their recent catch consisted of "sanitary towels and toilet wipes".

The river has no primary filter for solid sewage meaning it sinks to the bottom.

'A lucky escape'

Stories about fireworks rear their head every October in the lead up to Halloween festivities and this year is no exception.

In County Tyrone, the Ulster Herald carries a police warning to teenagers about the dangers of fireworks after reports of young people throwing them in the Omagh area.

One parent told the newspaper of their child's "lucky escape" after being burnt when he was hit in the face by a lit firework.

Paul Rafferty said: "My son got hit on the chest with one; bounced up off his chin.

"[He was] burned in both places. Luckily it wasn't any higher as it could have done more damage."

The paper also marked the return of the Omagh and District Cage Bird show after 30 years.

More than 500 birds were entered into the competition in St Colomba's Church Hall.

'Sextortion'

Social media users in County Down and parts of the surrounding area have been warned against falling victim to what is known as 'sextortion'.

Image copyright PA

The Newry Democrat reports the practice is a "form of blackmail in which sexual information or images are used to extort sexual favours from the victim".

In the past year there have been 81 reported cyber blackmail offences in the area including Newry, Mourne, and Down, according to the paper.

The paper also has a story about the unconventional fundraising efforts of the Newry Premiership Slagging Group.

With its origins as a football group chat, it has raised almost £14,000 for local charities over its lifetime.

"It's a good wee fundraiser that will raise some much-needed funds for local charities for just a bit of friendly banter online," said Ronan Bradley, one of the group's founders.

The group operates as a Facebook page, where anyone can enter, but has to commit to paying £30 at the end of the year so as to criticise the other members for the rest of the year.

'Taken aback'

Over in Antrim, The Ballymena & Antrim Times leads off with the ongoing plight faced by workers in the area following the collapse of Wrightbus.

The paper reports hundreds of workers gathered at the Ballymena Showgrounds during the week for a mass meeting about the future of their jobs.

Image copyright PA Media

One ex-worker said he had been "taken aback and amazed" by the support he has received since the collapse of the company.

On Friday a deal was reached in principle for the sale of Wrightbus.

'Rug pulled from under you'

Inside the paper is an interview with one man who lost his job a decade ago, but found it turned out to be his first step on the road to opening his own business.

Image copyright Getty Images

Trevor McDevitte was made redundant from a civil and structural engineering consultancy.

"To have the rug pulled from under you like that... it was a massive shock," he said.

Following the redundancy, Mr McDevitte set up his own embroidery business and worked out of a spare room in his parents house for the first few years of operation.

"Even though it seems like it's the end of the world when these things happen, there are definitely opportunities out there," he said, reflecting on becoming redundant, and the future for workers in the area.

'Smashed to bits'

Taking a look at Armagh, the front of this week's Lurgan Mail reports damage to a nursery school in Lurgan which has been vandalised twice in the space of a week.

The paper reports pupils at Harrison Nursery School arrived to find their story telling chair had been "smashed to bits".

Image copyright Getty Images

Writing on Facebook, principal Jill Hunter said the tap on a water butt had also recently been damaged.

"If you know who is responsible please tell them how upset and annoyed we are," she wrote.

"They are impacting the lives of 3 and 4 year olds and should be ashamed of their behaviour."

The paper also features the news of some cross-community harmony in the area.

SDLP councillor Declan McAlinden applauded the Orange Order for taking action to cut back trees blocking daylight for residents.

The trees were causing issues at Oakleigh Heights, located next to Brownlow House - which is owned by the Orange Order.

"As John Hume once said: 'It's when we start working together that the real healing takes place... it's when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood'," said Mr McAlinden.

'Cheap electioneering stunt'

Finally, in County Londonderry the Coleraine Chronicle reports recommendations that Downhill Forest should be handed over to the National Trust.

The report was complied by Outdoor Recreation NI, a government body formed to promote outdoor activities.

It said the National Trust is "best placed" to manage the site.