Northern Ireland

Weekly paper review: Drug for sick toddler and Santa sightings

Cystic fibrosis diagnosis Image copyright Getty/Zerbor

There's a little bit of Christmas cheer in at least one of the weekly papers.

The Down Recorder reports that Christmas has come early for Downpatrick toddler Lorcán Maguire.

His parents have been campaigning for him to get the expensive drug, Orkambi, free on the NHS since Lorcán, who has cystic fibrosis, was just a few months old.

The toddler, who will be three next month, recently took his first dose of the drug at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, with the help of some strawberry flavoured milk.

Lorcán's mother, Jen Banks, said that studies have shown that children with the condition who take Orkambi from age six can live for an extra 26 years.

Image copyright Shauna McNeill/ Cooley Community Alert
Image caption Ruth Maguire's mother has called for improved safety at Carlingford pier

However, on a more sombre note, the paper also reports on the inquest into the death of Newcastle woman Ruth Maguire, who drowned after falling off Carlingford pier while on a hen party earlier this year.

Her mother, Geraldine Worthington, has called for improved safety at the harbour.

Image copyright Antrim Guardian

"Seconds from Death" reads the headline in the Antrim Guardian.

It reports that a man was saved from freezing water on the Lough Shore in Antrim in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Police were called after a report of a man going into the water just a few hundred yards from the shore.

The paper features a photograph of Lough Neagh Rescue volunteer Sammy Kyles, who "plunged into the murky water to help rescue the man".

Image copyright Antrim Guardian
Image caption Lough Neagh Rescue volunteer Sammy Kyles rescued a man from freezing water last Saturday

Sammy stayed with him until his colleagues were able to come and take him on to a boat.

The paper said that he "modestly" later stressed that he was just "part of a team".

Lost species

On another issue, an environmentalist told the paper he feels emotional when he thinks of how a site that had become home to up to 20 different species of bees - several of them rare - has been lost.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Several species of bees where found at the site in Antrim

Mark Smyth said the site on the approach to Antrim Area Hospital was home to a species of bee that had not been seen in Northern Ireland since 1972 and another - the blunt jawed nomad - that had never been found here before.

The land had been earmarked for housing, but when the construction firm went into liquidation, nature reclaimed it.

However, building work has now resumed and the bees have been "entombed under tonnes of soil", Mr Smyth said.

Santa sightings

With the Christmas season in full swing, the Impartial Reporter spoke to schoolchildren about their sightings of Santa Claus.

Joshua Dougal, from Jones Memorial Primary School, confessed to sneaking out of bed to get a glimpse of Santa.

"I hid behind the sofa and then I seen him," he said.

Image copyright HASLOO
Image caption Joshua Dougal from Jones Memorial Primary School was lucky enough to get a glimpse of Santa

Explaining how Santa gets down the chimney, Joshua said: "Because he has a red nose, he just clicks it and then he teleports down the chimney."

The paper also reported on a cross-generational festive lunch.

Pupils from Ballinamallard Primary School joined local senior citizens for a festive lunch and sing-a-long.

It provided "a unique opportunity" for the two generations to come together to see the world from each other's perspective.

In Londonderry, a police officer told the Sentinel the streets are "a much safer place" after the man who killed a three-year-old boy was jailed.

'No remorse'

Liam Whoriskey, of Glenabbey Gardens in Derry was sentenced to 15 years - half of which will be served in prison - for the manslaughter of Kayden McGuinness.

Det Insp Peter McKenna said Whoriskey had shown no remorse for his actions.

He added that people should also remember Kayden as a "beautiful three-year-old wee Derry boy, who was, in his family's own words, a happy, smiling and much loved child".

Image caption Liam Whoriskey had been initially charged with murder: Mid-trial the charge was amended to manslaughter

The Sentinel also looked back on last week's general election in the Foyle constituency, which prompted SDLP leader Colum Eastwood to hail the revival of his party.

He admitted he was surprised by the crushing nature of his victory over Sinn Féin's Elisha McCallion.

Maths champions

The Mid Ulster Mail reports that pupils of Stewartstown Primary School are world champs again.

The school entered a worldwide numeracy challenge in November and came out on top for the second time in the last three years.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Children at one NI school are top of the class in numeracy

According to the paper, the pupils' average score was 11,723 ahead of the next best school, from Belgrade in Serbia.

The paper also said there was confusion over the theft of stones from graves in a Moneymore graveyard.

The police posted about the thefts on their Facebook page, saying there had been two separate incidents in recent weeks.

However, that prompted several members of the public to say they think the real culprits are birds - which the police believe is unlikely.

'Shocking spike'

The Portadown Times leads with a "shocking" spike in the use of Craigavon food bank over the past year.

The facility has seen a 28% rise in the number of people availing of its services, with attendance numbers now at more than 4,000.

Chris Leech, who runs the food bank, said that represents the biggest increase in usage in five years.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Jerry Thompson joined Carrick Rangers from Ards earlier this season

The paper also reports on the tributes paid to former Portadown footballer Jerry Thompson at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

Jerry, who was 24 and played for Carrick Rangers, died suddenly last week.

His image was displayed on screen during the ceremony hosted by Gary Lineker and Gabby Logan, the paper reports.