Police chief defends Ballycastle alert evacuation

Ballycastle PSNI station was at the centre of the alert

Ballycastle PSNI station was at the centre of the alert

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A police commander in north Antrim has defended his handling of a security operation at Ballycastle PSNI station following criticism from a nationalist councillor.

The alert at the Ramoan Road base on March 5 began with the discovery of an unexploded petrol bomb and a suspicious object – later described by police as a “hoax” – in the grounds of the station.

Independent councillor Padraig McShane accused PSNI superintendent John Magill of an over-reaction for evacuating nearby properties – saying he should “apologise to the people of Ballycastle and consider his position”.

The former Sinn Fein representative said no one was in danger, and added: “Did the police deliberately evacuate alongside British military personnel to increase apprehension and fear in Ballycastle? Was the pyrotechnic show from the controlled explosion to heighten that sense of fear? Is some form of pattern beginning to emerge in relation to claims of incendiaries and viable explosive devices throughout the north?”

Superintendent Magill said: ”The response of the police was totally in keeping with the danger posed during the security alert. The two devices were cleared, people were kept safe and disruption to the local community was minimal.”