27/05/2011

Security Alert Chaos Eases Across City

The main cross city motorway link has this afternoon been reopened after fresh bomb alerts this afternoon saw police investigating an abandoned vehicle that was left under the motorway bridge near Yorkgate in Belfast.

As a result of this alert, the M2, M3, York Road, Dock Street and the north bound carriageway of the Westlink were all closed to traffic.

Earlier, Stockmans Way off Stockmans Lane was closed off near to the M1 roundabout due to a report of a suspicious object. That has since been cleared, but the latest incident is ongoing with traffic chaos across most of Belfast.

A security alert in the Royal Avenue area of Belfast has also ended although a number of people had to leave a shopping centre at Castle Court.

The PSNI asked for the public to be vigilant following the series of security alerts today.

A statement said: "Additional resources are being deployed and police are appealing for co-operation and understanding from the community as calls are dealt with and alerts are investigated."

The PSNI spokesperson added: "There is an increased police presence as police deal with this series of alerts.

"Some are hoaxes but at least one so far has been a viable device. We need to treat each incident with an appropriate level of caution, for everyone's safety.

"Disruption will be kept to a minimum but safety is paramount. We would ask everyone to be vigilant - at home, at work and while travelling," the statement concluded.

Meanwhile a third security alert in the vicinity of Glengormley village that saw roads cordoned off have all now been reopened after two different parts of Newtownabbey were closed off this morning in separate security alerts.

A suspicious object was reported at business premises at Longwood Road, close to the Abbey Centre. It was at the entrance to a building at Mill Road where the access was closed.

However, traffic was still able to pass on the normally busy Mill Road itself.

Army technical officers then moved in and closed off an area in the car park close to the Mothercare and Tile Market stores. The scare was then declared to be a hoax.

The earlier security alert was on the Antrim Road in Glengormley. The road was closed between the Maxol filling station and Sandyknowes roundabout for a time.

As Friday traffic is lighter than other days, the disruption was however limited with traffic - including buses - diverted along the nearby Ballyclare Road instead.

It has since been declared 'an elaborate hoax' and the road between the petrol station and M2 roundabout has been reopened.

At the same time, a number of business premises were evacuated during a security alert in Londonderry.

A suspicious object was discovered at premises in the Strand Road area on Friday.
News Image
Roads in the area had been closed and diversions put in place.

Police have since said that nothing untoward was found after searches were carried out.

Roads in the area have now been reopened.

Viable Device

Last night a device was dealt with in south Belfast after reports that a silver taxi was stopped by police and men were then seen lying handcuffed in the street and that white forensic overalls were used as they were taken into custody.

He said he believed it was a small bomb that had been found as only a few homes had been evacuated.

Students and families had to leave their homes as Army bomb experts carried out a controlled explosion on the viable device found in an alleyway near Eblana Street as a result of the operation.

University Street and Eblana Street have now reopened.

In a separate incident, Finaghy Road North, near the Dublin-Belfast railway line, was closed overnight after reports of a device being left in the area.

Shortly after 6am on Friday, police said the alert had been declared a hoax but searches in the area were continuing.

Trains are however being allowed to pass Finaghy Road North, but the halt has been closed and passengers are being advised to used alternative halts in the area.

The recently elected Alliance Newtownabbey Mayor, Cllr Billy Webb, has expressed his outrage at those responsible for two security alerts in Newtownabbey.

Cllr Billy Webb said: "The public are completely opposed to those behind these suspicious objects. The only thing that these mindless thugs are achieving is to cause disruption and harm to the local community and businesses.

"Everybody else has signed up to the Peace Process, it is about time that these idiots realise the damage they are doing and stop their actions now.

"If anybody has any information about these security alerts then should contact the police," he urged this morning.

Later, the DUP Policing Board Member, Ian McCrea said: "Those responsible for a series of security alerts today are beneath contempt and will be condemned by all right-thinking people.

"In the recent election, the people of Northern Ireland comprehensively rejected those who would seek to drag our community backwards. The dissidents have the support of nobody but a tiny fanatical few.

"Security alerts cause disruption and inconvenience to law-abiding citizens trying to go about their work or carry on with their day-to-day lives.

"I would urge anyone who has any information about this latest spate of security alerts to share that information with the police. By working in partnership communities and the police can defeat this scourge on our society and ensure the criminals that want to drag us backwards do not achieve their aim," said Mr. McCrea.

(BMcC/GK)

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