27/01/2011

Families Suffer As Bomb Clearance Continues

About 50 families have spent a second night out of their homes on Wednesday as the PSNI Commander in north Belfast said he hopes the ongoing security alert on the Antrim Road will be over by Thursday evening.

Although many other families were able to get access to their homes last night after the initial evacuation, a second object found by police is believed to be a bomb component that may have been part of the original bomb.

This led Chief Superintendent Mark Hamilton to say that making sure the area was safe was a "slow, methodical, painstaking process".

"I wouldn't have taken the steps I have taken if I didn't believe there was an enormous risk, firstly to members of the public and then to my staff.

"There's been people in this community who have deliberately planted a bomb in this area and there only purpose was to murder people.

"Then you add to that the recklessness of leaving a device in an unstable condition which could have exploded."

On Wednesday night, the Acting Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board has condemned those who recklessly abandoned a bomb close to Antrim Road Police Station.

Brian Rea said: "The police have said that the intended target for this device was police officers. Those behind this bomb have shown complete disregard for the people who live and work in this area and it is very clear from the community reaction that there is absolutely no support for their activities."

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery has also strongly condemned those who abandoned a bomb in the Antrim Road for the disruption and trauma that has been caused to local people.
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With more than 100 families initially moved from their homes, traffic disrupted and people facing difficulties going about their daily lives, Councillor Convery said: "These people are attempting to destroy our future by placing what police have now described as a viable, life-threatening device in the heart of a local community.

"Belfast City Council and others are working to improve the future for the thousands who live, work or visit our city. We are trying to encourage investment, help create jobs, provide open spaces and encourage good health.

"The people who abandoned this bomb are trying to undermine all the positive work that is going on in Belfast, and the progress we have made as a city and a society. They are to be totally condemned for their lack of care and respect for a community that is reaching out for, and wants, peace, co-operation and a better quality of life for everyone," he said.

The First Citizen was speaking soon after a local MP also hit out at those responsible for the ongoing alert.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds said: "It is scandalous that some 100 families have been evacuated from their homes.

"I understand that three coded warnings have been received this week, first saying an explosive device had been left in the Antrim Road area, before subsequently specifying the Glandore area.

"This is a grossly irresponsible act designed to cause severe disruption to the residents of this mixed area.

"Those responsible prove only how totally inconsiderate they are of other peoples' well-being and I condemn their actions utterly. It is clear they have nothing to offer society only a return to the fears and disruption of the past," said the DUP politician.

(BMcC/GK)

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