Belfast Telegraph

Another day of security alerts in Belfast sparks appeal for extra police

BY JOANNE SWEENEY

Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey has called for the PSNI to get extra officers after another day of security alerts caused frustration and disruption.

The MLA also condemned those behind the third security alert in recent days impacting on his south Belfast constituency as showing "a serious lack of imagination".

A number of families in the Finaghy area had to be evacuated from their homes yesterday afternoon in one of two security alerts in the city.

This morning, a number of homes were evacuated as army bomb disposal experts deal with an alert in north Belfast, following the discovery of a suspicious object in the Silverstream Road area. It was later declared an elaborate hoax.

The East Belfast constituency office of Alliance MP Naomi Long was targeted yesterday in another security alert.

Both that incident and the Finaghy alert were later declared elaborate hoaxes by the police.

Four men – two aged 26, one 25 and one 53 – were arrested after being stopped in a car on the Andersonstown Road, following a separate alert in the Kennedy Way area of west Belfast that caused major traffic disruption on Monday. Police later released all four unconditionally.

Mr McGimpsey said: "This is the second time that families in the Finaghy area have had to leave their homes, business disrupted, people not knowing when they are getting back into their home.

Northern Ireland's dismal day of disruption

"It's all been done before, it's just so frustrating for everyone.

"But we have been warned about the threat from dissident activity for some time and if Matt Baggott needs 700 new officers to deal with this, he should get them. The police must be properly resourced to deal with this threat to protect the community and apprehend those responsible."

Fearghal McKinney, the SDLP MLA for South Belfast, said those behind the alerts had nothing to offer society.

"Our businesses can ill-afford any delay to the working day. I am calling for those behind these alerts to think seriously about the damage they are doing to the economic prospects of Belfast," he said.

East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland condemned the bomb alert at Alliance MP Naomi Long's offices – despite recently criticising the cost of police protection for the same offices last year when loyalists targeted it.

He said that the people behind the security alerts needed to "get off the backs of the people who bear the brunt" of the attacks."

Alliance Party MLA Chris Lyttle said the alert on his colleague's office was a "serious and reckless act".

STORY SO FAR

A recent series of security alerts across Belfast have caused massive disruption for many families, motorists and businesses.

All but two of the suspicious objects have been hoaxes with families evacuated in south, north and east Belfast.

Pipe bombs were made safe in security alerts in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast yesterday and the Old Brewery Lane area of west Belfast.

Four men were arrested for after a hoax alert which caused major traffic disruption in the Boucher Road area on Monday morning, but were later released.

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