Belfast Telegraph

Second night of evacuations for residents in Londonderry bomb alerts

By Donna Deeney

Residents in the Lettershandoney area of Londonderry have voiced fury at those behind a second security alert in two days which forced them out of their homes.

The alert, which continued overnight, began when the PSNI returned to the same street in Lettershandoney yesterday afternoon at 3pm, just two hours after the area was cleared from an incident which began the previous evening.

While around 15 homes were evacuated on Wednesday night, last night the number was reduced to six.

Residents were told to expect to remain out of their homes overnight over the alert which is focused on a suspect object discovered near the home of a unionist activist.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, one resident described as "sickening" the disruption he and his family faced.

He said: "I live right beside where this alert is with my wife, our two young children and my disabled sister-in-law.

"We were evacuated on Wednesday night until well after midnight and now we are back out again and won't be allowed in at all overnight.

"We asked the police two or three times on Wednesday night if it was safe to go back into our house and we were assured it was. My family slept all night in our house thinking it was safe, but it turned out that wasn't the case and we are back out again.

"Would they like it if someone left something in a garden near where their children played, or do they even care that our children's lives were put in danger?

"I guarantee you they don't give a damn, it is just sickening the whole thing. I cannot understand why this couldn't be dealt with right away. "

Community development officer for Lettershandoney Sean Carlin opened the community hall for residents for a second night.

He said: "The information we have been given is that a suspect device has been found at the edge of the estate and that people needed to be evacuated.

"We got the all-clear at 1pm yesterday and at 3pm police were back evacuating homes again. People were allowed back into their home just after midnight on Wednesday, they left the centre and went back home on the understanding that although nothing was found, there would be a follow-up search in the morning to reaffirm that it was safe.

"The latest information we have is that the bomb disposal team have come back here with some urgency, but that it would be left until the morning before they would go in."

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Fleming, who attend the scene, said whoever was behind the alert was without support.

"From what I can see the people who have been targeted are all of the people in Lettershandoney who for the second time in two days face disruption and disturbance in their lives," he said.

"It is unacceptable that they have been put through this and whoever is responsible should desist immediately. They have no mandate whatsoever and no support from either the local or the wider community."

SDLP councillor Jim McKeever also condemned the actions of those behind the alert.

"This is the second day in a row residents have been disrupted and they are angry which you can fully understand.

"We still don't know what is behind this alert but it is a very serious situation and the police are treating it as such which is a worry," he said.

by donna deeney

Belfast Telegraph

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