‘Sick individuals’ behind bomb alerts in east Antrim

Police and ATO at the scene of a security alert in the Rockfergus Avenue area of Carrickfergus
Police and ATO at the scene of a security alert in the Rockfergus Avenue area of Carrickfergus

An MLA has condemned two bomb alerts which happened within a short period of one another at the weekend.

Stewart Dickson, Alliance member for East Antrim, said that the two incidents – one in Carrickfergus, the other in Cushendun – were the work of “sick individuals”.

ATO at the scene of a security alert in the Rockfergus Avenue area of Carrickfergus

ATO at the scene of a security alert in the Rockfergus Avenue area of Carrickfergus

In the first of the two alerts, the loyalist neighbourhood of Rockfergus Avenue in Carrickfergus was the scene of a security operation after a suspect device was discovered on Saturday morning.

Police announced the find at about 9am, and a number of homes were evacuated.

By around noon the alert had ended.

The PSNI said soldiers had “examined a suspicious object discovered in the area and have declared it to be an elaborate hoax”.

The Rockfergus Avenue alert

The Rockfergus Avenue alert

It was removed for further examination.

Inspector Martin Ruddy asked anyone with any information about the incident to contact detectives in Larne Police Station quoting reference number 378 13/08/16, or call independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The street has a large mural on it, honouring the South East Antrim brigade of the UDA – a largely-autonomous outfit which split from the mainstream part of the organisation several years ago.

This paramilitary faction has been behind an upsurge in visible symbols of terrorist propaganda, with new murals being painted and UDA/UFF flags displayed, even while the leadership of the mainstream UDA have been trying to limit such displays.

A simmering paramilitary feud has played out in Carrickfergus since the start of July, apparently stemming from an internal dispute.

Soon after that first alert ended, police announced they were in attendence at a security alert in the small seaside village of Cushendun, to the north-east of the county.

Its Main Street was closed to traffic and a number of homes in the area evacuated.

Just over four hours later, police said that soldiers had examined the device and it was found to be a hoax.

Police said they were “working to establish a motive for this incident”, and appealed to anyone who has any information to contact officers in Coleraine Police Station on 101 quoting reference number 507 of 13/08/16, or to ring Crimestoppers.

Stewart Dickson MLA said he was “disgusted” at the actions of those responsible.

“The people behind these alerts are sick individuals, with no respect for the lives of others,” he said.

“To leave a device which had the potential to explode in a residential area is a callous move.

“The only thing it is achieving is disrupting the lives of the vast majority of people in the local community.

“The public does not support these incidents and wants them to stop.

“I would urge anyone with information to contact the police immediately.”