26/02/2009

Police Response Criticised Over Church Hall Attack

Two separate investigations are underway today as the PSNI investigate overnight attacks, one involving a pipe bomb and another a petrol bomb.

In Co Fermanagh, the PSNI have been criticised for not turning out until daylight after a petrol bomb was thrown at a Church of Ireland hall.

Parishoners were playing bowls inside when the failed attack occurred at the premises on the Clogh Road near Rosslea. It happened at approximately 10.15pm on Wednesday.

The police reported that the device failed to ignite and no damage was caused and there were no injuries.

However, while slamming those who carried out the attack, Sinn Féin MP and MLA for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, has also criticised the police response.

"I condemn the petrol bomb attack on this church hall outright. The church hall was being used at the time and I am thankful that the petrol bomb did not ignite and that nobody was injured.
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"It is also wholly unacceptable that the PSNI did not call out on the night of the attack. This is a serious incident. Had this petrol bomb ignited with people inside using the hall there could have been serious consequences and for the PSNI to ignore this is a grave dereliction of the responsibilities they are charged with."

However, the PSNI has responded by saying that the area is dangerous: "The area in question is a remote one, and there have been two attempts since 2006 to leave bombs to kill police officers. The dissident republican threat remains high."

Meanwhile, in Newtownabbey a pipe bomb exploded after it was thrown at a parked car.

Army technical officers were called to examine the device which was thrown just before 9.30pm on Wednesday. It ignited on an area of grass near houses at Mayfield Court.

No one was injured but two cars were slighted damaged. A number of streets were cordoned off during an operation by the police and Army.

The object was taken away for further examination.

Police have appealed for further information concerning both incidents.

(BMcC/JM)

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