A MAJOR security alert in south Belfast which has seen families forced out of their homes in south Belfast has been condemned by politicians.
Army technical officers have been at the seen for over a day searching for devices at Finaghy Halt.
Local Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey has hit out at those behind the alert which was sparked on Thursday following the discovery of a suspicious object near the railway line.
A number of controlled explosions have been carried out and the ATO brought in sniffer dogs and a specialist search team to dig undergrowth for possible command wires.
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 it was too soon to know the full extent of what had happened but he said it had caused a massive knock-on effect.
“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.”
He said he was hopeful the alert would end on Friday morning.
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.”
Scores of families in the area Belfast spent the night out of their homes because of a security alert.
Commuters who had parked their cars at Finaghy Halt were unable to retrieve them during the alert.
Bus substitutions are in place as the railway line has been closed between Great Victoria Street and Lisburn.
Enterprise train passengers heading to Dublin are also being bussed between Belfast and Lisburn.
Police said Finaghy Road North remains closed between Finaghy Park Central and Ardmore Avenue.