NI weekly papers: Trolls, dumped waste and peacemaker tribute

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Image caption,
Gerry Burns (l), pictured in 1988, with then High Commissioner for New Zealand Bryce Harland

In the Impartial Reporter there are heartfelt tributes to a former Fermanagh District Council chief who worked to promote reconciliation.

Gerry Burns, who died this week aged 85, is described by his son as a "family man who did everything he could to make the county a better place for all".

Mr Burns, who witnessed the 1987 Enniskillen bombing, which killed 12 people and injured more than 60 others, was "instrumental" in establishing the Spirit of Enniskillen Trust.

It was set up to empower young people from Northern Ireland to understand and respect each other's traditions.

Originally from the Falls Road in west Belfast, he became an adopted son of County Fermanagh.

The paper's former editor Denzil McDaniel writes a tribute to him describing him as a "true friend to Fermanagh".

Image source, Getty/Circle Creative Studio

Also in the paper we hear a date has been decided for the first Fermanagh Pride event.

Originally called Enniskillen Pride, it's now been renamed and will take place on Saturday 8 August.

Image source, Impartial Reporter

After last year's worldwide Pride celebrations, a Facebook event was set up to garner interest in an Enniskillen festival, the paper says.

However, other than the date nothing more has been revealed about what plans are afoot.

Councillor Donal O'Cofaigh says he's hoping for a wide range of support from political parties.

Image source, ULSTER HERALD

Online trolls are making a former politician's life "hell", the front of the Ulster Herald reports.

Former councillor on Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Sorcha McAnespy speaks out about "false and malicious rumours" which have been spread about her private life.

She says she has contacted the police and taken legal advice over her face being superimposed on "vile pornographic images".

However, she says it is "highly frustrating that apparently nothing can be done to counteract such vile rumours".

Image source, David Young/PA
Image caption,
Sorcha McAnespy pictured in 2018 after she became a member of Fianna Fáil

Ms McAnespy has had to seek therapy because of the distress.

"If it wasn't for the support of family and friends I don't know what I would do," the mother-of-three tells the paper.

The front page of the Ulster Gazette reports residents of Madden in County Armagh are angry after tonnes of household waste were dumped outside the village.

It is understood at least two lorries were involved in the incident off the Monaghan Road last weekend.

Sinn Féin councillor Darren McNally, who was alerted by residents on Sunday [16 February], said those living in the area were "extremely angry".

He said the smell was "rotten" and there was a fear of the waste "seeping into local water".

Image source, Ulster Gazette

The newspaper also reports that a man sleeping above a bar in Laurelvale got an unexpected wake-up call when a car skidded into the building after snow had fallen.

Matthew Bird, who owns Sally McNally's At The Corner, said his father Tony was asleep in a first-floor bedroom when the incident happened last Tuesday morning [11 February].

He has called for more gritters to be deployed in such conditions.

The newspaper says no-one was injured, although the driver was "badly shaken" by the experience, and the vehicle was a "write-off".

Damage to the premises resulted in a one-day closure and further inspection by an engineer found the damage was serious enough to warrant reconstruction of a wall.

"We'll have to close again when that work is being done," Mr Bird said..

Image source, Albert Bridge/Geograph
Image caption,
Warrenpoint Baths were built in 1907 and originally featured a saltwater swimming pool

Elsewhere, the Newry Democrat reports Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has started a tender process searching for expressions of interest from suitable companies to undertake the redevelopment of the Warrenpoint Baths site.

It says planning permission has been secured for the site's redevelopment.

The newspaper says the project will include refurbishment and an extension of the existing Adventure Centre, the community function room, seaweed baths/spa, coffee shop, external venue space, public toilets and all associated site works.

Image source, Newry Democrat

The original baths featured an open air saltwater swimming pool, built in 1907.

The baths were last opened to the public for a short period in the 1980s.

The newspaper also reports silver poppies are to be presented to surviving World War Two veterans within the council area.

It says an investigation by council officers identified four people for recognition.

It adds after further discussion with the Equality and Good Relations Reference Group it was agreed the council should give consideration to hosting an event in May.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
China has reported 2,239 deaths from Covid-19, the illness brought on by coronavirus

Much has been said about the impact of fewer Chinese visitors, due to the coronavirus outbreak, on tourism in Northern Ireland.

Mid and East Antrim Council Mayor Maureen Morrow says "a lot of gaps are appearing in the borough in hotels and active bookings".

As well as a drop in Chinese tourists coming to Northern Ireland, the Larne Times reports a council trip to Asia has been cancelled.

A council delegation was to travel to Donghai and Anshan in April.

Anshan is home to one of the largest steel producers in China and last May, Chinese Consul General Madame Meifang was welcomed to the area in a "bid to strengthen business and trade links".

Image source, LARNE TIMES

Now - on to more parochial matters - are the bins in the council area about to shrink?

The paper reports homeowners are set to be given smaller bins in a "bid to boost recycling".

The smaller bins, accompanied by a three-tier user-friendly wheel box system, are part of a council consultation document for 2020/21.

A survey shows 55% of black bin contents could be recycled rather than sent to landfill.

A final decision on the future of the bins is expected later this month.

Image source, Darron Mark/DMfotoNI
Image caption,
The redevelopment of the former military base at Ebrington is a long-running issue

In the Londonderry Sentinel we hear the long-awaited Ebrington scheme in Londonderry is "blossoming".

Dr Mark Browne from the Executive Office told the Stormont Infrastructure Committee "there have been very significant developments".

While the site was undergoing a lot of utility work, it is now "getting to the point now where it is going to blossom".

"I'm very encouraged," he said.

"All of the buildings there either have a lease on them or have an expression for someone who wants to take the building forward."

Work has started on new office accommodation which will offer space for between 400 and 450 employees.

Image source, Londonderry Sentinel

There is "significant potential" for the building of a four-star hotel.

Also in the paper, the discovery of a human body part on a County Donegal beach remains a "complete mystery".

Gardaí (Irish police) are investigating after a "human leg with a shoe attached" was discovered in Bunbeg in Donegal.

A dog walker raised the alarm on Tuesday evening.

He said the body part had been taken to the morgue at Letterkenny Hospital and DNA testing was to be carried out.