Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

PSNI base bomb alert is linked to Neil Lennon campaign

A suspected parcel bomb addressed to a republican support group in Scotland has been intercepted in Belfast.

The Army bomb squad was called to examine the suspect package at Musgrave Street PSNI station last night.

It is understood the package was addressed to republican support group Cairde na hÉireann (Friends of Ireland) which has offices in the Barrowlands district of Glasgow.

Strathclyde Police last night said the package recovered in Belfast was similar to four others intercepted in the west of Scotland in recent weeks.

It emerged last week that parcel bombs sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two other high profile supporters of the club, Paul McBride QC and Labour MSP Trish Godman, were capable of causing serious injury or death.

Scottish police say they believe the latest package was sent at the same time as the previous four and is linked to the previous devices.

It is believed the package was regarded as suspicious at Tomb Street sorting office in Belfast on April 12.

It was then taken to Musgrave Street PSNI station where it remained in storage until last night when an alert was raised after police received new information.

The PSNI confirmed the most recent suspect package did not “originate” in Northern Ireland. The other four packages were all posted in the west of Scotland.

Tomb Street sorting office is the Royal Mail’s National Return Letter Centre and all undelivered mail is sent there.

It is believed that although the suspect package was addressed to Cairde Na hÉireann it was not delivered and redirected to Belfast. Strathclyde chief superintendent Ruaraidh Nicolson tried to ease public fears over the recent spate of parcel bombings.

He said: “This latest discovery will become part of the ongoing investigation.

“We'd like to stress that there is still no intelligence to suggest that these packages pose a threat to the wider public and we would urge people to remain calm.

“The person or people sending these packages are clearly determined to cause fear and alarm to the individuals or organisations concerned.

“This is an utterly despicable crime, committed by an individual or individuals who are prepared to put people in harm's way simply to attract attention to their callous and cowardly actions.”

Just last week Cairde na hÉireann’s national organiser in Scotland Franny McAdam told the Belfast Telegraph the attacks on Neil Lennon reflected a wider problem in Scottish Society.

He said: “We would see what happened as more about anti-Irish racism than sectarian.

“Take the bullets sent to Niall McGinn, Paddy McCourt and Neil Lennon earlier this year.

“They were three Irish-born Celtic players and that incident was motivated out of anti-Irish racism.”

Story so far

Parcel bombs addressed to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two other high profile supporters of the club, Paul McBride QC and Labour MSP Trish Godman, were intercepted last month.

Last night’s potentially deadly discovery in Belfast brings the total number of suspect parcel bombs to five.

Two of the original four parcels were intercepted at Royal Mail sorting offices in the west of Scotland last month, both addressed to the Celtic manager.

The first one was found in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, on March 4 and the second was intercepted on March 26 in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire.

Lennon, 39, has endured threats and abuse throughout his career and was forced to retire from representing Northern Ireland in international football after claiming he had received death threats from a loyalist paramilitary group.

He was the victim of a street attack in the west end of Glasgow in 2008 and earlier this year received a package containing bullets.

Celtic players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt, both from Northern Ireland, were also sent bullets in the post.

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