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31/03/2009

Hoax Security Alerts Close School

Hundreds of Belfast school children have been sent home following a hoax security alert.

St Aidan's Primary School on the Springfield Road was closed after the discovery of a suspicious object on the Whiterock Road, which was later declared non-suspicious. Three hundred and fifty pupils were evacuated.

The Whiterock Road was closed at the junction with the Springfield Road and Glenalina Drive, all of which have now reopened.

Army technical officers examining an object at Ligoneil Road also said the alert was a hoax.

The road has been reopened between Mountainhill Road and Crumlin Road.

This morning's hoax alerts came after a series of disturbances across the city yesterday evening.

A number of key routes in and out of Belfast were affected.

It is thought dissident republicans were also behind several hijackings in predominantly nationalist areas.

First Minister Peter Robinson described those responsible for the activity as "beneath contempt".

Traffic later began moving again after police reopened the M1 Moira and Lurgan route, where a vehicle had been abandoned.
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Security alerts near police stations at Tennant Street, North Queen Street, Kingsway and Blacks Road were all declared hoaxes, as were alerts on the Andersonstown Road and at the Stormont Hotel on the Upper Newtownards Road.

The Hillview Road in the Oldpark area of north Belfast was reopened, and the Upper Springfield Road was made passable after a burning hijacked lorry was extinguished.

Disruption was also caused by burnt out van on the Crumlin Road, close to Holy Cross church.

It is believed two car were also hijacked in the Kilwilkie area of Lurgan.

"Those who would try to destabilise and destroy Northern Ireland will fail. We won't be going back," said Mr Robinson.

He said those responsible would not succeed in "dragging Northern Ireland backwards".

"The criminal terrorists responsible for the series of bomb scares and hijackings have no support whatsoever in the community," said the DUP Leader.

North Belfast Sinn Féin Assemblywoman Carál Ní Chuilín said the culprits had "no strategy".

"These actions are wrong and counterproductive to anything that our communities want," she said.

"I would like the spokespeople of those behind these alerts to come forward and explain how this will in any way achieve a united Ireland."

(PR/BMcC)

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