Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Anger as bomb left at Catholic church

Residents speak of distress and alarm after night-time evacuations

Fr Damian McCaughan, the curate at St Mary's on the Hill
Fr Damian McCaughan, the curate at St Mary's on the Hill

Residents have spoken of their distress after a bomb was left at a Catholic church opposite their homes.

The device, described by police as crude but viable, was found outside St Mary's on the Hill on Saturday night.

Around 20 people had to leave their homes just after 10pm and the Carnmoney Road in Glengormley on the outskirts of north Belfast was closed for several hours while Army bomb experts made the device safe.

Andrea O'Reilly was among the residents to speak of the inconvenience and distress caused by the security alert.

"We had to lift our two-year-old daughter out of bed and just leave," she said.

"It was horrible but luckily we have relatives living nearby."

Scout leader Iris Connor and her family stayed at a friend's house until being allowed back home after 2am.

"In the 20 years I've lived here we've only had something like this once before," she said.

"We thought we had moved away from this era," she added.

Another resident, who did not want to be identified, said: "I've heard the bomb described as small and crude.

"If a child had lifted it, small and crude means nothing; it could have killed someone."

Fr Damian McCaughan, the curate at St Mary's on the Hill, said that relations between his church and other churches in the area are excellent.

"It's a great shame that something like this should spoil perhaps the good relationships, but we are still confident that this does not reflect any of the communities in Newtownabbey and we've to continue the good work of building up relationships," he said.

Parish priest Fr John Forsythe said that several suspect devices had been left in the area in recent weeks, suggesting the spate of alerts may be linked to the ongoing loyalist flag protests. "I hope the PSNI can find the perpetrators and deal with them appropriately," he added.

DUP MLA Paula Bradley, who is also a councillor for the area, said it was "abhorrent" that any place of worship should be targeted.

Sinn Fein councillor Gerry O'Reilly also slammed the attack, saying that those responsible are "clearly a danger to the public and must be taken off the streets".

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