Belfast Telegraph

Turmoil grips a west Belfast community after bomb discovery

Thirty families were forced to evacuate their homes in west Belfast after a suspect device was found on waste ground.

Police discovered the small suspicious object after a search of waste ground to the rear of Dwyer’s GAA club on the lower Falls Road at lunchtime yesterday and a controlled explosion was carried out by the Army.

The object was described by police as a small hand-held explosive device that could have killed or seriously injured anyone in close proximity to it.

The alarm caused havoc among the local community, with residents being moved from their homes by police.

A doctor's surgery, shops, a dental surgery and a housing fold were also cleared.

Divis Community Centre was opened up for residents who had been moved, with some able to collect a few belongings in preparation for an overnight stay.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh said: “The area has been cordoned off and a large section of the road is closed.

“A lot of homes will be largely evacuated by this.

“The areas being evacuated have a lot of businesses within them, for example there is a dentist, a chip shop, a bakery and a bookies which have all been disrupted by it.

“A fold in the area was evacuated, some of the people went to stay with relatives but it is not just the elderly live in the fold. There are people on the housing list; in total 17 families were moved from the fold.”

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said: “Some of the residents of the fold have been transferred to nursing homes in the local area by the health trust.”

Mary George Arakkl (59) and her daughter Lidiya Alex (25), who is a mother to a seven-month-old boy, were moved to the safety of the community centre where tea and coffee was on offer.

Mary said: “We were at home and we were just about to have a meal and were told to move immediately.

“I have difficulty walking as I have severe back pain and we had to walk from the Grosvenor Road to the community centre; it was a long distance for me.”

Her daughter moved to Belfast in 2008 from India and lives in Finaghy.

She was just visiting her mother overnight when the drama unfolded. Lidiya said: “We were just about to have lunch when the police came to evacuate us. It was very unexpected as we have never experienced anything like this before.”

Mary added: “I enjoy living here, but we were not expecting this, we do not know when we will be allowed back home.”

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