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PSNI dealing with aftermath of M1 tragedy slam dissident bomb hoax


Scene of the incident on the M1 on Wednesday

Scene of the incident on the M1 on Wednesday

Photo by TONY HENDRON/Tonypixpor

Scene of the incident on the M1 on Wednesday

A senior police officer has hit out at dissident republicans responsible for a security alert in Lurgan while his officers supported the family of a man killed on the M1.

The PSNI has also called for an end to "hurtful, unhelpful and inaccurate" speculation over what happened in the motorway incident.

A man died after appearing to step out in front of an HGV after parking up on the hard shoulder.

It took place close to the Lurgan turn-off on the Belfast-bound section around 4.50pm on Wednesday afternoon.

The deceased has been named locally as John Watts, who was aged in his late 20s, and a past pupil of St Michael's Grammar School in Lurgan.

Mr Watts' funeral will take place tomorrow.

The family asked for donations in lieu of flowers to the PIPS (Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm) charity.

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The lorry driver, meanwhile, is receiving "all necessary support", his employers said.

In a separate incident yesterday, there was disruption to the rail line at Lurgan after reports that several devices had been planted in the town's Lake Street area.

PSNI Chief Inspector Jon Burrows claimed those responsible had needlessly diverted police resources in the area.

He tweeted: "Whilst we were supporting a family bereaved in a tragedy on the M1 and serving the community throughout this area, violent dissidents caused disruption, delay to rail passengers and a needless diversion of our finite resources from the most vulnerable in our community. Despicable."

The man driving the lorry, an experienced McBurney Transport Group employee, has been left badly shaken.

Ballymena-based McBurney's operations director Chris Hutchinson said everyone's thoughts were with the family of the man who died and that a company welfare officer had been dispatched to support the lorry driver.

He said: "Support was made available immediately.

"Our driver, who has over 40 years' experience without incident, was supported at the scene and we continue to provide all necessary additional support during what is an extremely difficult time.

"This was a very unfortunate incident and not one that we would have ever wanted to come across."

Yesterday the PSNI urged people not to discuss the tragedy online.

"Social media has been alive this morning with speculation and questions," a spokesperson said. "We would ask that people respect the family and friends at this time, who may well be reading hurtful, unhelpful and inaccurate comments posted on various pages.

"Please assist us if you can, but otherwise let the investigation take its course."

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