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Winter festival sees Derry security gate open for first time in 40 years

Communities are coming together in the city to embrace the festive spirit. Credit: UTV

A security gate between Londonderry’s loyalist Fountain estate and the nationalist Bogside has been opened for the first time in 40 years, thanks to a winter festival bringing the communities together.

UTV’s Gareth Wilkinson went along to find out how friendships were being built among people who had lived almost side-by-side for years, having never met until they got involved in the festival.

He may have gotten more than he bargained for amid the carnival atmosphere, but he certainly found that the community initiative continues to go from strength to strength.

And many now hope the security gate may soon remain unlocked on a more permanent basis.


Frampton pays tribute to murdered opponent González Jr

Carl Frampton with Alejandro González Junior. Credit: Presseye

Belfast boxer Carl Frampton has paid tribute to his one-time opponent Alejandro Gonzalez Jr, after reports the 23-year-old was found murdered near his home in Mexico on Friday.

According to ESPN, the young boxer – who lost out to Frampton in a super-bantamweight title fight in El Paso, Texas last July – was found dead in a Jeep along with two others in Guadalajara.

The identities of the other men killed in the incident are unconfirmed, but one of them is believed to have been González Jr’s grandfather.

Both Frampton and his wife Christine expressed shock and sadness at the news.

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Frampton hailed him as “one of the nicest guys” he had fought, while his wife said they had spent a lot of time talking about their families while in El Paso.

The young Mexican rattled the Belfast world champion when he twice downed him early in their bout, in what was Frampton’s US debut.

However, the Jackal recovered to take the win by unanimous decision over the man known as ‘Cobrita’.

Many had felt González Jr would go on to enjoy a bright future in boxing, but his life has now been cut tragically short.


Homes evacuated due to blaze in east Belfast

The scene of the blaze in east Belfast. Credit: Presseye

Residents have been evacuated from their homes due to a major fire close to business premises on the Upper Braniel Road in east Belfast.

The fire has already spread to a house, causing extensive damage – although no one has been injured.

It started in a shed before then spreading and the evacuations have been necessary due to the potential hazard from cylinders stored in workshops close to the premises.

Up to 45 firefighters are working to bring the situation under control.

Four fire appliances, plus an aerial appliance are at the scene and the road has been closed.

Two in custody over half million pound drugs haul

Credit: UTV

Two men were remanded into custody in Belfast today on charges linked to a bid to import nearly half a million pounds worth of cannabis.

Chinese nationals Xiong Bing He, 30, and Xia Shu Cheng, 32, were arrested in Portadown and Ballymena as part of the investigation into the seizure of two packages from Portugal last month.

The pair appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court jointly charged with the attempted importation of Class B drugs, possession with intent to supply and conspiracy to supply.

He, of Tandragee Road in Portadown, is further accused of having a fake Portuguese passport.

The alleged offences were committed on dates between November 14 and December 8 this year.

An investigating detective confirmed he could connect both men to the charges. Neither He nor Cheng, of no fixed address, mounted applications for bail.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall remanded them both in custody to appear again by video-link on January 6.

The charges against them relate to a probe into a suspected plot to import large amounts of herbal cannabis and cannabis resin.

Police searched properties in Ballymena and Portadown on Thursday in a follow-up to Border Force officers intercepting two parcels from Portugal on November 14.

According to the PSNI, the investigation has led to the recovery of around £450,000 worth of class B drugs

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