25/07/2002

Brookeborough bomb search continues

A security operation is still ongoing at Lord Brookeborough's Colebrooke Park estate in Co Fermanagh following reports yesterday that a bomb had been detonated in the area by dissident republicans.

Police have established a scene between the A4 and Colebrooke Estate in the vicinity of Colebrooke Parish Church and a number of homes in the surrounding area have been evacuated. The security operation is expected to last for some hours.

Yesterday, a local newspaper was contacted by a person using a recognised codeword claiming that the Continuity IRA had exploded a bomb on the 1,000-acre estate.

Police sealed off the area but as of this morning had failed to uncover any evidence of an explosion.

Local residents and the Brookeborough's reported hearing a bang, some distance from the main house, at around 12.45am on Wednesday morning.

Viscount Brookeborough, one of the House of Lords' 180 crossbenchers has been the Personal Lord in Waiting to the Queen from 1997 and a member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board since 2001.

The Policing Board's vice-chairman Denis Bradley condemned the apparent attack, saying that those who had planted the bomb were "making themselves irrelevant".

Mr Bradley said: "Alan Brookeborough is my colleague and he is a friend of mine. Anybody who thinks that by putting a device anywhere near that area or around him and threatening his stand or politics is going to achieve any change or make any difference in this Ireland we all live in is absolutely so far off the mark that they are making themselves irrelevant.

"Alan Brookeborough is one of the most decent, one of the most fair people that I have ever worked with," he added.

The Brookeborough family have lived in the area for around 350 years and the estate has been open to the public since 1985.

Viscount Brookeborough is the grandson of Northern Ireland's third prime minister and a relative of Field Marshall Viscount Alanbrooke.

(GMcG)

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