Armagh residents evacuated in security alert
March 16, 2010
By Brónagh Murphy
A security alert in Armagh on Thursday forced the evacuation of a number of residents from their homes.
The alert began around 9.30pm when police received reports of a suspicious device having been left at the junction of Niall’s Crescent and Friary Road. Army bomb disposal experts were called to the scene and nearby residents had to vacate their homes.
The residents were able to return home on Friday morning although the alert continued until late evening.
Follow up searches were carried out and police say a number of items were removed for further examination.
Sinn Fein’s Cathal Boylan described those behind the incident as having ‘complete disregard’ for the safety of people in the area.
“Once again we have a situation where a suspected bomb has been placed in a residential area which has necessitated the evacuation of families from their homes in the middle of the night,” he said.
Ulster Unionist MLA for Newry and Armagh, Danny Kennedy, said such incidents were becoming an unfortunate ‘norm’.
“Once again we have a situation where innocent people are being driven from their homes in the face of a security alert. What makes this so disappointing is the fact that it has almost become a ‘norm’ in the Newry and Armagh area in recent weeks and months. We had hoped those days were behind us, but clearly there are those within our community who do not wish peace to prevail,” Mr Kennedy said.
“I can only hope that, now we have agreed to devolve policing and justice powers, that the paralysis which has afflicted our Executive to date will not be carried over into such a sensitive and potentially dangerous area. Policing is too important for there to be weakness at the top of the system,” the UUP deputy leader said.
Stating that anyone with information should come forward, Mr Kennedy added: “This is the only way that we can stop dissidents in their tracks – by working together as a community and sending out a message that their agenda has no place in Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile, the two men arrested in the city on Thursday evening have been charged with possession of explosives. One of the accused is further charged with possession of material likely to be of use to terrorists.
A further three arrests – two men aged 24 and a 45-year-old woman, were during follow-up searches on Saturday.