Belfast Telegraph

Terrorists' bid to bomb Ballycastle police station 'assisted by removal of fencing'

By Rebecca Black

The removal of additional security fences from Ballycastle police station facilitated terrorists who came close to devastating it, it has been claimed.

Terror was brought inside the walls of the station yesterday when a live bomb was thrown over the walls.

Until 2004 this would have been impossible with the walls surrounding the stations topped by high blue security fences.

These were removed in 2004 in line with a recommendation from the Patton Report, which relates to 'switch-on switch-off security' and called for stations to have a softer appearance.

North Antrim MLA Jim Allister said if the removal of the fences facilitated this attack, it was a "foolish measure".

"I totally condemn this attack and it is a reminder of the continuing presence and threat of terrorism," he said.

"Sadly, sometimes attacks are facilitated by the removal of defences which previously were there. I am thankful that no one was injured on this occasion.

"This is clearly now going to be a pattern so the PSNI need to take steps to protect the officers and the public who go in and out of the station.

"They do need to reassess their security levels and their defences.

"I would also be exhorting that the authorities should be in pursuit of terrorists operating within north Antrim. If they can come into Ballycastle and do this, then we can't afford to be complacent."

Two objects managed to be thrown into the grounds of Ballycastle station on Ramoan Road in the town yesterday morning.

The station was evacuated along with a number of nearby shops, Housing Executive offices and some homes, for several hours. Superintendent John Magill described the alert as "a dangerous situation for the community as well as for police officers and staff".

North Antrim MLA Daithi McKay said the bomb brought nothing but disruption to the town.

Background

Police stations across Northern Ireland were heavily fortified throughout the Troubles to prevent terrorists from being able to throw devices over the walls. Metal fencing was erected on top of walls and gates to render the height beyond reach of would-be bombers. However, following the publication of the Patton report in 1999 - which made a number of recommendations for post-peace process policing including renaming the RUC as the PSNI - these distinctive fortifications were gradually removed from stations.

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