There has been cross-party condemnation of hoax bomb alerts at Catholic churches in Newtownabbey and Glengormley.
Controlled explosions were carried out on Friday evening by the Army bomb disposal officers at St Mary’s on the Hill church on the Carnmoney Road, Glengormley and at the Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea, at Whitehouse, Newtownabbey.
Resident were later allowed to return to their homes.
Newtownabbey UUP councillors Mark Cosgrove and John Scott have condemned those responsible.
Councillor Cosgrove said: “I unreservedly condemn those responsible for leaving a hoax device outside St Mary’s on the Hill this evening. It is a cowardly thing to do. Everyone has the right to freedom of worship and those that try and take away that right are enemies of us all.”
Councillor Scott added: “It’s a disgrace that in the 21st century, in a western democracy such as ours, that some feel that something can be achieved by trying to deny others the freedom to worship free from intimidation. St Mary’s Star of the Sea has been attacked before and those responsible should get off the backs of ordinary people and let them live in peace.”
DLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said the attacks were “deeply disturbing” and added that targeting two Catholic churches reveals “a chilling sectarian motive”.
Sinn Féin councillor Michael Goodman said it was not the first time that the churches have been targeted.
“It is wrong for anyone to target any place of worship,” he said. “I condemn those behind these incidents which are clearly designed to offend people from the Catholic faith.”