SOUTH BELFAST SECURITY ALERT DECLARED A HOAX

Army technical officers declare south Belfast area clear after dealing with hoax devices,

Army technical officers declare south Belfast area clear after dealing with hoax devices,

RESIDENTS have been allowed to return to their homes after a 24-hour security was declared a hoax.

Dozens of families were forced to spend Thursday night out of their homes following the discovery of a number of suspicious objects at Finaghy Halt in south Belfast.

The alert was sounded around 3 pm on Thursday afternoon, forcing roads to be closed and trains to be halted.

Army technical officers were tasked to the scene and spent over 24 hours examinging the objects.

A number of controlled explosions were carried out at the scene.

On Friday, extra bomb squad officers armed with sniffer dogs searched the area for possible secondary devices hidden in the undergrowth.

However, around 4.30 pm the ATO informed the PSNI that the objects were hoaxes.

As a result, the Belfast to Lisburn line was re-opened along with Finaghy Road north and surrounding streets.

have all been removed and the train line and all roads have reopened.

The PSNI has condemned those behind leaving the hoax devices near residential properties.

Said Chief Inspector Ken Pennington: “I would like to thank the community in Finaghy, commuters and our partner agencies for their patience and support during this operation.

“A number of homes were evacuated during the course of this security alert.

“Throughout this incident the safety of the public and police officers had been at the forefront of our planning and actions.

“Those responsible for placing these items have shown a total disregard for the local community and also for the wider community.”

Local Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey has hit out at those behind the alert.

UUP MLA Michael McGimpseyin condemns those behind hoax alert in south Belfast

UUP MLA Michael McGimpseyin condemns those behind hoax alert in south Belfast

Said Mr McGimpsey: “The people who left a bomb on the railway line in the Finaghy area of South Belfast are a disgrace.

“Their actions are reckless and show no regard for the welfare of the residents concerned. There is no support for such unpleasant individuals.”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast Mairtin O’Muilleoir said the alert had caused “considerable disruption”.

“While many families were asked to evacuate last night, many didn’t leave so those who stayed within the cordon will want to get to work.

“The council opened Anderstown Leisure Centre, it wasn’t used, the Red Cross were in the area. Most people who did stay out made their own arrangements.

“It has caused huge inconvenience to local residents.”

The Lowe Memorial Church on the Upper Lisburn Road was also made available for evacuated residents in need of shelter.

Mr Ó Muilleoir said the disruption had caused a massive knock-on effect to the public.

“Some people have their cars parked at Finaghy halt, for example, which they weren’t able to get last night and obviously won’t be able to get this morning,” he added.

“I was speaking to one family last night from Finaghy Park Central and in 20 years they had not been asked to evacuate, so it’s clear to me that there is a gravity to this that we haven’t seen previously.

“That said, I don’t know who is behind it, I don’t know who would be crazy enough to be involved in this type of activity and we don’t know if they are actual devices or in fact, it’s an elaborate hoax.”

The Sinn Fein councillor said it had been “distressing” for local residents and “unwanted” in the city of Belfast.

“People do want to have normality in their lives especially now as we move into schools going back this morning, people getting ready for work,” he said.

“The message goes out from the entire city of Belfast that this is the last thing people want.”

 

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