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MLA's fury as rail line is closed yet again during police search operation

By David Young

Published 05/08/2016

Disruption: MLA Carla Lockhart
Disruption: MLA Carla Lockhart

The Lisburn to Portadown railway line was closed for up to six hours yesterday while a major police search operation took place in Co Armagh.

The line was closed from mid-afternoon while the PSNI carried out searches in the Cornakinnegar Road area of Lurgan.

The road borders the nationalist Kilwilkie estate, and is bisected by a level crossing on the main Belfast-Portadown-Dublin rail route.

A PSNI spokesman said officers had been carrying out what they termed a "significant ongoing operation in relation to serious crime", but did not elaborate any further.

Last night just before 9pm the spokesman said the line had been re-opened, but added the security operation was expected to continue "for some time".

Detective Inspector Adrian Brown said: "The policing operation will continue in the area in order to ensure the safety of all.

"While we attempt to keep disruption in the area to a minimum I would again like to thank the community for their patience and co-operation.

"I would also appeal to anyone who has noticed any suspicious activity in the Cornakinnegar Road area in recent days to contact police in Lurgan."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Upper Bann MLA Carla Lockhart hit out at the people behind the alert which sparked havoc for residents, commuters, Translink staff and the PSNI.

"Once again, Lurgan people are being held to ransom by the actions of mindless individuals, who want to destroy, disrupt and ultimately take life," she said.

"We hear today again of a security alert on the railway lines which is causing major problems for Translink, commuters and brings the good name of Lurgan into disrepute again.

"This is costing the taxpayer an absolute fortune, with thousands of pounds being lost on policing such events.

"The vast majority of people in both North and South Lurgan want to live peaceably and get on about their business. "

Ms Lockhart added: "These individuals have little support and in fact this ongoing disruption further corrodes their position within the town of Lurgan.

She called on the PSNI to continue their efforts to thwart the plans of those who "seek to destroy" and appealed for anyone who had any information about such activities to pass it to the authorities.

The DUP MLA said that she would be meeting the PSNI for a discussion this week to ensure that sufficient resources were available.

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