THE retired police officer who discovered an explosive device close to his car on Saturday is heavily involved in local community work, it has emerged.
Former security force members have now been urged to increase their personal security measures following the incident at Mark Street in the Milltown area of Dungannon.
Councillor Walter Cuddy knows the retired officer well and said he is “shocked and annoyed” to have found the device at a time when there is so much good work being done to improve community relations.
“He has been doing an awful lot of work in the community in the last couple of years so it’s particularly unfortunate he was out doing a bit of gardening and came across this device,” the UUP councillor said.
“Dungannon had its problems over the Troubles but this type of thing now just seems so out of date. Milltown representatives have been working closely with Dungannon West through the neighbourhood renewal scheme and this man was one of them.
“This is obviously a major setback and we’ll have to assess the situation and see what the way forward is from here,” Councillor Cuddy added.
The device, which was described by police as “viable,” was discovered just over two weeks after another viable explosive device forced the closure of a shopping centre in nearby Moygashel. The Linen Green retail complex and part of the Moygashel Road were closed for several hours during the peak of pre-Christmas shopping on December 23.
It also came just days after a sophisticated booby-trap device was placed inside the car of an off-duty soldier in north Belfast.
Dungannon DUP councillor Kim Ashton said the area was “getting a rough time at the minute” with the device’s discovery so soon after the Moygashel incident.
“Everything had been quite quiet before these incidents and it’s something we don’t want to see starting up again. I’m sure someone will claim responsibility but until then it’s hard to know who is behind it,” she said.
Councillor Ashton added: “The whole community has to be vigilant at the minute. They [the devices] are being left in the heart of communities and if any of them go off then it will be devastating to the communities involved.
“I would call on anyone who sees anything suspicious not to touch it but to get it reported to the police as soon as possible.”
A PSNI spokesman said the police investigation into the Mark Street incident was ongoing and that no further information was available at this stage.