A beleaguered west Belfast community last night appealed for the people behind a series of hoax bomb alerts to stop.
The residents from Twinbrook have blamed local youths for a spate of alerts in and around St Colm’s School and have demanded that something be done to deal with them.
Yesterday, Army technical teams carried out controlled explosions on four devices discovered in the grounds of the secondary school — marking the sixth time that St Colm’s has been targeted in the past two weeks.
Dozens of homes in the Summerhill Drive, Thornhill Crescent and Brooke Lodge were also evacuated after a number of crude devices were found in properties opposite the school.
Sinn Fein has dismissed claims that St Colm’s had been singled out after allowing a visit by the Royal Marines earlier this month.
Angela Nelson, a Sinn Fein councillor for the area, said: “It has absolutely nothing to do with the Royal Marines visit. It is local youths who want the day off school. They have been heard laughing and joking about it. One person heard them say they are going to do another one on Friday.
“People are disgusted because a lot of these children are at GCSE and A-level and they are being denied their education by youngsters who are not interested in studying and who have nothing better to do.
“Unfortunately the more media attention this gets the worse they are. But I don’t think the police are dealing with these incidents quickly enough.”
One householder at Thornhill Crescent discovered a suspect device below a children’s trampoline in his back yard.
His neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “I have two children, aged eight and four and we had to leave our house at about 8am. I was out the back talking to my neighbour and he saw something below his trampoline. It had wires hanging off it. It was like an aerosol can with wires hanging from it, wrapped up in white tape.”
A local mother complained that the police response to the incidents had not been fast enough.
“These are clearly not viable devices, so why is it taking the police so long?
“They have been blocking the road all day and all night — that then provokes the kids into throwing stones,” she said.