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Mortar bomb abandoned at Keady police station

February 23, 2010


By Brónagh Murphy

In the latest in a line of attacks on police stations in south Armagh, a van fitted with a mortar bomb was abandoned outside the Keady base.

The security alert began early on Friday morning when a suspicious vehicle was discovered in Davis Street, close to the station.  Although it’s claimed the vehicle was abandoned around 6.30am, it was several hours later before police cordoned off the scene.

Traffic was diverted away from the area and by late afternoon army technical officers began their examination of the vehicle.

It was found to contain a viable mortar bomb, which was made safe and removed for further examination.

Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney said the device ‘had the potential to cause death or serious injury’.

“Those responsible have shown a reckless and callous disregard for the people of Keady,” he said.

SDLP mayor Thomas O’Hanlon condemned those responsible.

“All they have done is cause disruption to local people with many families being forced out of their homes over the weekend,” he said.

“The device was left on a very busy cross-border route causing serious inconvenience to local businesses who have been unable to trade since Friday.

“Whatever the perpetrators’ misguided intentions were, they are not going to unite Ireland through their actions. What they have done is unite the community in their opposition to these dissident attacks.

“Police were slow to seal the area off to begin with and there has been a lot of frustration among the local people for the length of time they have taken to defuse this device.  However, police are making great efforts to help people get back into their homes and businesses to re-open.

“I appeal to the irresponsible idiots who caused this havoc to get off our backs, off our streets and let people get on with their lives,” he added.

Sinn Féin’s Assembly member for the area, Cathal Boylan, hit out at those responsible saying there is no support for ‘this type of nonsensical action’.

“The people responsible for this should realise that such actions are serving no purpose other than to frustrate and annoy the local community and businesses,” Mr Boylan said.

“There is no appetite for this type of activity among the overwhelming majority of people.  These micro groups should catch up with the rest of us and realise that they have no support within the community for this type of nonsensical action.”

Lengthy

Despite the device being removed on Friday, the security operation continued over the weekend and residents were forced to spend two nights out of their homes.

Justifying the lengthy examination of the area, police described it as the ‘scene of a major crime.’  However, Sinn Fein described the delay as ‘unacceptable’, and a party delegation met with senior PSNI officers on Sunday afternoon – the third day of the alert – to voice the frustration of the residents and business owners.

“This operation has continued into its third day – many residents have been unable to return home and a number of businesses had to close for the weekend. This is totally unacceptable,” Cathal Boylan MLA said.

“After meeting with the PSNI along with my party colleagues a number of families have been allowed to return home on foot. Whilst I welcome this, it is still not good enough.

“As the PSNI declared the device safe on Friday, people are questioning how it is taking so long to allow residents to return home permanently.

“We are now seeking an urgent meeting with the Chief Inspector and will be asking him to explain how this operation has taken so long. I have also spoken to our Policing Board members who will raise this issue with the Chief Constable.”

Sinn Fein councillor, Darren McNally, criticised the police for not keeping residents informed about the situation and commended the patience of the homeowners during what has been ‘a extremely frustrating experience.’

Meanwhile Chief Superintendent and E District Commander, Alastair Robinson, said police understood the frustration felt by the residents but that his officers were ‘doing their utmost’ to make the area safe.

“It must be remembered it was the people who abandoned this device who put the lives of local people in danger and who have caused disruption and upset to the community,” he said.


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