Belfast Telegraph

Uncle refuses to condemn attack

An independent republican councillor whose police officer niece was the target of a suspected car bomb attack in Northern Ireland has refused to condemn the incident.

Army bomb experts were called to Fearon Close in Kilkeel, Co Down, after a suspicious object was discovered near the home of the Catholic policewoman.

It is understood that the item fell from a car belonging to the young PSNI officer - the niece of former Sinn Fein councillor Martin Connolly.

As bomb specialists examined the object, Mr Connolly declined to criticise those responsible.

"I'm not going to get into the politics of condemnation," he said.

"It hasn't done any good in the past, nor will it do any good in the future."

Mr Connolly left Sinn Fein in 2007 and is now an independent representative on Newry and Mourne District Council.

DUP South Down Assembly member Jim Wells branded the councillor's comments, made on BBC Radio Ulster, as a disgrace.

"How could anyone refuse to condemn an attack on one of his own relatives?" Mr Wells said. "I believe as a councillor he has to support a peaceful and normal democratic process. This could have been an absolute tragedy."

A number of homes were evacuated during the security alert, which came just days after a car bomb exploded outside the Strand Road police station in Derry, causing extensive damage. Members of the public narrowly escaped injury in Tuesday's attack, carried out by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.

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