12/11/2007

Remembrance Day Device Explodes

A solemn Remembrance Day service in County Down, was disrupted for a time when an explosive device detonated nearby.

The ‘ coffee jar’ bomb caused a security alert in the border city of Newry when it exploded inside the barrel of a ceremonial cannon.

No one was injured and Army technical officers who examined the cannon thought it was a jar containing fireworks.

The incident came hours after a bomb alert had been cleared at the scene of the notorious Poppy Day bomb attack 20 years earlier, in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh – which this time turned out to be a hoax - and failed to disrupt this year’s ceremony.

Speaking of the Newry attack, PSNI Chief Superintendent Alan Todd said: "This timed device was intended to disrupt today's parade and cause fear and panic among those attending."

He added: "It is absolutely shameful that such an act was carried out on such an emotive and commemorative occasion."

Those in attendance at Newry said they heard a bang and saw a flash and smoke coming from the cannon just as the traditional 11am silence was being observed.

DUP assembly member William Irwin said he found the incident "sickening" especially given "the poignancy of the day 20 years on from the bombing of the cenotaph in Enniskillen".

The UUP's Danny Kennedy described the attack as "quite despicable" and said it had been a "very frightening experience for those present".

Sinn Fein MLA Mickey Brady said: "People and communities should be allowed to commemorate and remember their dead in peace, without hindrance and in a spirit of mutual respect."

The incident happened as ceremonies were taking place across Northern Ireland to remember the war dead.

The largest remembrance event in Northern Ireland took place at Belfast City Hall where consuls of the US, Canada, France and India laid wreaths.

The Queen's representative, Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, Lady Carswell, was also in attendance along with leaders of the armed services.

At the same time, a contingent from Whiteabbey Royal British Legion was on the windy, exposed Antrim plateau at the County Antrim War Memorial, Knockagh, to lay wreaths in memory of the fallen at the huge obelisk on the hill top, which dominates the skyline and is clearly visible from much of the greater Belfast area.

(BMcC)

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