Belfast Telegraph

Belfast residents forced from homes as bomb left at railway bridge

By Sara Neill

Residents evacuated from their homes on a quiet suburban street after a pipe bomb was discovered under a railway bridge are angry at those who left the device.

The viable explosive was found at Whitehouse Park in Newtownabbey on the outskirts of north Belfast on Saturday night.

An anonymous phone call, understood to contain a codeword, was made to police shortly before 9pm, tipping off the PSNI and the Army bomb squad to the location of the device on the street on the shores of Belfast Lough. Nearby homes were evacuated, with the Valley Leisure Centre available to residents while the bomb squad examined the explosive.

It is understood only one family used the facilities, with others able to stay with relatives and friends. One woman, who has lived on Whitehouse Park for 20 years, said she did not believe her street was the intended target.

She said: "I've no worries about safety here. They've been spooked, someone's dropped it. That bomb wasn't meant for here."

The alert ended shortly before 1am on Sunday, but with nearby roads closed and trains delayed, the Mayor of Newtownabbey said locals had gone through significant disruption overnight.

Councillor Thomas Hogg said: "Police aren't yet clear on a motive, whether the device may have been intentionally placed there or deposited while being transported somewhere else, but a motive does not make it any more justifiable."

Matthew Anderson (20) was stopped by the police operation as he was diverted past closed roads. He said: "It's not a usual thing to happen in Whitehouse Park, but if you hear a suspect device, you do think it's going to be a bomb. I'm sure it was scary for those living beside the bridge."

Matthew's father Peter has lived at their family home in the street since 1993. He said the weekend alert was an unwanted change to the usually quiet area, adding: "It angers me, because the people in Whitehouse Park get on very well together.

"It's a mixed community, and there's no trouble from the residents here. We're in the 21st century now. Let's move forward and stop this nonsense."

Elsewhere, a senior Orangeman said he is prepared to forgive those who left a saucepan packed with homemade explosives at a hall in south Armagh.

The makeshift device partially exploded outside Carnagh Hall on the Castleblayney Road near Keady on Friday evening, causing minor damage.

Worshipful Master Trevor Geary said: "Our main worry is that this happened at all. We thought all this was behind us many years ago."

It is the sixth time the hall has been attacked, and now it has been left marked with fertiliser and corrosive liquid. Carnagh Orange Hall is close to the border and is used by members in the north and south for social events and fundraisers as well as lodge meetings. Mr Geary said they were more committed than ever to continuing their cross-community work.

"We're hurt and disappointed in our own hearts for all the work was going on, but as soon as we can get this cleaned up we're planning for Saturday's charity breakfast."

The senior Orangeman said those behind the attack had "nothing to fear" from the Orange Order, and issued a special invitation to them.

"Come down and join with us," he said. "We'd still welcome them and we're prepared to forgive."

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said: "This attack was also designed to intimidate the lodge members. However, they will not bow down to intimidation.

"It's time for the sectarian bigots who attacked Carnagh Orange Hall to get off the backs of the local community."

Police are still investigating both incidents.

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