Bomb alerts in Newry lead to major disruption

August 30, 2011

Newry businesses and homes underwent evacuations and major disruptions on two consecutive days in the last week as a result of bomb alerts.

In the first incident, dissident republicans were blamed for abandoning a bomb inside a branch of Santander bank at Hill Street on Monday.  Two masked men entered the premises at 9.45am and dropped a holdall before issuing a 45-minute evacuation warning and fleeing.

Police have said that the bomb could have killed or caused serious injury.

Hill Street was closed between the Cathedral and the Town Hall and dozens of businesses were disrupted. Appealing for information on the Newry bomb, the area commander for Newry and Mourne, Chief Inspector Davy Beck, said: “This was a viable device which was capable of causing death, serious injury and substantial damage to the area. I would place on record my gratitude to the army technical officer and his team for their actions which clearly prevented the detonation of this device.”

Newry Sinn Féin MLA Mickey Brady said of the perpetrators, “Obviously those responsible have little regard for the civilians shopping on Hill Street, one of the premier shopping districts in the city.”

SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley also voiced his anger at the security alert.

“This has to be condemned. The commercial life of Newry has been hard hit by the recession and does not need to contend with this added disruption. This has no support from the people of Newry, who want to get on with their lives and business without this.”

Adding his condemnation, Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said: “Today’s incident in Newry not only terrorised staff and customers but has also caused a great deal of disruption to local businesses and local people and will do nothing to help rebuild the local economy which has suffered so much from the current recession.

“The perpetrators have nothing of use or value to offer anyone in Newry or anywhere else in Northern Ireland. This community wants to get on with normal daily life in which people can go to work or visit shops without having to worry about fanatics trying to plant devices in banks.”

In the second incident, just a day later, several homes in the city had to be evacuated because of a bomb alert at Chapel Road about 11.15am.

A suspicious object was found by a member of the public in the grounds of St Mary’s Church and Army Technical Officers were called to examine. Chapel Road and Priory Crescent were sealed off but re-opened at about 12.25pm. A spokesman for the PSNI said nothing sinister had been found.

The SDLP’s Dominic Bradley said people in Newry were fed up with the disruption.  Referring to the previous day’s bomb alert, he continued, “Newry was brought to a halt, businesses were prevented from trading and people’s everyday lives were upset with the dangerous actions of those responsible for the bomb in the bank.

“This was the second successive day that Newry has been disrupted. Thankfully no-one has been injured and that’s the most important thing, but the commercial life of Newry is also important, too. Disruption caused by these alerts does not help the local economy.”

He said that for a suspicious package to be found in a graveyard had “distressed many people. To plant something in this place where many people’s loved ones have been laid to rest underlines the sheer depravity and callousness of these people.

“They are simply making people in Newry more united in their opposition to their campaign.”