Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Traders defiant after hoax bomb alert

Businessman have vowed to continue trading despite the chaos caused by a hoax bomb alert yesterday.

A large number of streets in Newry were sealed off after a four separate bomb warnings were made yesterday afternoon.

It is understood two local newspapers, the Samaritans and Daisy Hill Hospital all received calls from a man claiming a bomb was left at New Street.

It is understood the caller, who used a codeword, claimed the bomb would explode at 4.45pm yesterday.

Police closed off a number of nearby streets and and evacuated several businesses in the Sand Mills industrial estate.

Newry Courthouse, which was the target of a bomb attack in February last year, was also evacuated during the alert.

The Army bomb squad was called to deal with the hoax which ended at 7.30pm yesterday when nothing was found.

The security alert caused rush-hour gridlock throughout Newry.

Police had advised motorists to avoid the city if possible.

Last night president of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade, Conor Patterson, said it was difficult to understand what those behind the hoax alert were trying to achieve.

He said: “I run a business park in the city centre and we have 70 businesses on site.

“There are nearly 500 jobs in the park itself and most are local businesses employing local people. The logic behind this and how it advances an economic or political agenda is beyond me. It’s unfathomable and it’s difficult to understand what it’s attempting to achieve.”

Mr Patterson, also chief executive of Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency, said local people have worked hard to change the image of of the city.

He said: “Our brand and mission is ‘Working in Newry’, but how is this working for Newry or how is it good for Newry? I just don’t see the logic in it.”

Newry-based accountant Fergal McCormack said businessmen will not be deterred by the latest alert. He said: “Newry has come a long way in the past 15 or 20 years and people have started to enjoy the benefits of commerce. Once you get a smell of that you ought to continue and people will be resilient.”

The latest alert in Newry comes almost two weeks after a 500lbs van bomb was abandoned under the A1 Belfast to Dublin road near the town.

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