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Bomb hoaxes spark mayhem

Politicians furious as school and homes evacuated in latest spate of alerts

By Laura Abernethy

Published 20/10/2015

The scene of the security alert on the Oldpark Road in north Belfast yesterday
The scene of the security alert on the Oldpark Road in north Belfast yesterday

Residents were forced from their homes and a school was evacuated after security alerts caused disruption across Belfast yesterday.

The first came after the discovery of a suspicious object in a house on the Oldpark Road, north Belfast. Army bomb disposal experts examined the device before declaring the incident a hoax.

In the second incident, De La Salle College, in the west of the city, was evacuated after a message was left on the school's voicemail. Police investigated the building but found nothing.

The incidents were the latest in a series of alerts. Last Thursday, people in north Belfast had to leave their homes after an under-car booby trap was found in the Linden Gardens area.

A suspicious object was also discovered on a railway line in Lurgan on Sunday, and a security alert in Omagh - the second in just over a week - ended in a controlled explosion on Saturday.

On October 9, venues for PSNI recruitment events in Belfast, Omagh and Derry were evacuated after alerts. Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister said people in north Belfast were "sick and tired" of the disruption. "In the space of a few days, we have seen disruption caused by security alerts in north Belfast and further afield," she said."To have several is disgraceful. "The people behind this need to take a look at their actions and realise they do nothing but cause annoyance and disruption. I would urge anyone with information to come forward and help end this cycle." Sinn Fein councillor Mary Clarke also criticised the perpetrators. "This is the second incident of this nature at this location over the weekend, and those responsible have nothing to offer this community who have once again been forced from their homes," she said.

"While details remain unclear, I've contacted statutory agencies to put in place measures to help those neighbours affected by this incident. I would appeal for anyone with information to come forward so that those that planted this device can be held to account for their actions."

East Belfast DUP MLA and Policing Board member Robin Newton said the frequency of incidents requiring the skills of bomb disposal officers highlighted our huge debt of gratitude to them.

Mr Newton added: "Every bomb disposal task puts these highly skilled officers in danger. The difficult work that they undertake is done with the potential of the officer being at high risk of injury or a fatality.

"They are the unsung heroes in the fight against terrorism.Their work is in protecting the whole community, not only the police or army who may be the terrorists' intended target.

"Many officers have paid with their lives to keep the communities in Northern Ireland safe. Each time one of these brave officers makes the long walk, they should know they do so with the gratitude and thanks of everyone in our community."

Anyone with information can contact police on the non-emergency number 101.

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