In the last days and weeks Northern Ireland has been hit by many bomb alerts and security alerts, many of which have turned out to be hoaxes. I doubt that many people living in the rest of the United Kingdom have any idea what this is like.
Imagine a family with young children, who are asleep at the time of the alert, being roused by a knock on the door from the Police. No, we don’t want to speak to anyone here – but there is a bomb alert at the bottom of your street. We need to evacuate you.
Where do you go?
Well fortunately, in many cases local Councils open up leisure centres, or community centres to assist you. But until that alert is over, you cannot go home.
This is happening across Northern Ireland more and more, and we don’t really hear about it from our friends across in England, Wales, or Scotland. Be glad that you have not had this curse on your communities. Hopefully, the criminals, for I will not dignify them with the word ‘terrorist’ will learn that we do not want to go back to the days of violence, of mob rule, and where everyone here cannot go about their daily lives without the risk of that being disrupted.
I utterly and without hesitation condemn the orchestrated mob violence in Glengormley on the evening of Fri 8th March, which culminated in injury to several PSNI officers and an attack on the premises of the office of David Ford MLA, which resulted in damage to a neighbouring, unassociated business.
This is the latest in a four-month series of attacks on, and threats to, elected Alliance representatives. It is worthy to note that this attack comes a day after Alliance raised its vote in Mid-Ulster by 23%. Further demonstration, if any were needed, of the dichotomy between the democratic process and the politics of the street, and between those who respectively practice them.
We in the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats are, as always, proud to stand alongside our sister party.
Coat of Arms of Belfast City Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My thoughts and prayers are with all Alliance Party representative and their staff at this difficult time following the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union Flag on designated days.
Reports are coming in this evening that a constituency office for Stewart Dickson MLA, the Alliance representative for East Antrim has been set on fire. According to the BBC the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service are at the scene.
As with the protest yesterday that forced Naomi Long MP‘s office to close early, all that these actions will do will be to stop local people from getting the assistance that they so often need with benefit queries, housing, social care needs, passport applications, and other local issues that they so often need help with. The thugs and criminals that have done this must be caught by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and brought to justice.
If any public representative has urged people to come out on to the street and protest, I suggest that he thinks again about the wisdom of this. The matter of the Union Flag has been dealt with by the body responsible in one local government district – Belfast City Council. It is outrageous for so many so-called Loyalists to be protesting in areas of Northern Ireland which are specifically affected by the decision.
I call on anyone with any information to pass it to the PSNI as soon as possible, that the real scum who have done this are brought before the courts.
I have become aware of a new bogus caller scam that has been taking place in Northern Ireland. As we are about to be changing over from analogue to digital television later in the autumn here, some criminals have been taking advantage of this in trying to gain access to premises.
According to the PSNI,
There have been a number of reports of bogus callers trying to trick their way into houses by saying that they are making preparations for the householder to receive digital satellite channels on their television sets. The ‘digital switchover’ means soon you will no longer be able to receive an analogue signal and will only be able to watch a television with a built-in digital receiver, a digital set-top box or subscribe to a satellite or cable service. Anyone calling at a home to do any work in connection to this would not be doing so without prior arrangement with the householder.
I therefore urge all householders to exercise caution if they have any unplanned or suspicious caller at your house. The police advise you to call them on 0845 600 8000 to report the incident. If you require assistance from the police in an emergency, please call 999.
I ask all readers to alert older family members and friends who do not use the internet to this scam. Thank you.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thankfully the evacuation of Omagh Police Station last night was due to a hoax device. Sadly, even hoax devices can be used to create terror in the lives of our police and of our communities across Northern Ireland. I call on anyone with any information about those who plant hoax devices and real devices to contact the PSNI about this. It is essential that those responsible are brought before the courts for justice.
The PSNI can be contacted on 0845 600 8000 for non-emergency reporting. In an emergency do phone 999.
I sincerely hope and pray that nothing untoward is found. My thoughts are with all serving our community in the Police Service of Northern Ireland at this time. Those who continually seek to create terror in Northern Ireland need to know that we will not put up with this. You will be found by the PSNI and brought before the courts.
All too often we hear about paramilitary style shootings here in Northern Ireland. Local politicians may be in charge up at Stormont in the Assembly, but on the ground it seems that local people are still being terrorised by criminal gangs. We also have had many bomb alerts in or near Belfast in recent days. The people of Northern Ireland are fed up by these attacks on our peace and democracy.
There must be people in our communities who know who is responsible for these attacks. I call on them to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland as soon as possible, so that the Criminal Justice system can be used to put these criminals, thugs, and bully boys behind bars. Let’s hope that the Prison Service and Probation Service will be able to work together with other agencies to reform the criminals in our midst.
You can contact the PSNI on 0845 600 8000 or if it is an emergency by dialling 999.
On Saturday 21 May 2011 there was a security alert at the NW200 Ireland’s most famous road race. This alert was declared a hoax after police had searched the paddock. Unfortunately, there was only one race completed this year as on top of the hoax alert there was a major oil spill which meant that the event had to be abandoned. So bad luck on top of the actions of those responsible for the hoax security alert has meant that thousands of fans of motorcycling have gone away with very little seen this year.
This is very disappointing for the fans, as well as for the riders. However, safety is always important. I hope that next year the races will be back on and running safely.
Also today there was an explosion in Derry. Police Chief Inspector John Burrows has said that
there was sheer panic…
There were young children who had to be evacuated. People could have been killed when this explosion went off.
Fortunately there were no reports of injuries or damage when the bomb did go off. The bomb was thrown into a branch of the bank Santander in Shipquay Street by masked men.
Both these events today have been undertaken by people who are the enemies of liberty, equality and community. I call on anyone who has any information concerning these two crimes to report this to the Police Service of Northern Ireland as quickly as possible. It is vital that the criminals behind these events are found and brought to justice.
Reacting to the news that a 25 year old police officer has been killed in Omagh by a booby trap car bomb, local party chair, Michael Carchrie Campbell said:
I condemn utterly the actions today of the terrorists who have carried out this atrocity. They must be aware that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland do not want us to go back to the days before the peace agreement. Together the rest of us in Northern Ireland must stand firm against this latest act of terrorism.
As Northern Ireland prepares to go to the polls to elect new councillors, new MLAs and to vote in the Referendum on the voting system for Parliament on May 5th, we are looking forward to a freer, fairer, and more open society, not one of fear and worry.My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of Ronan Kerr at this time and in the days to come.
I urge anyone with any information as to who is responsible for this outrage against the people of Northern Ireland to come forward and contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland on 0845 600 8000, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The news that another man has been attacked in the Brompton Park area of the city is news that we should not be reading about. Not because it should go unreported, but because it ought not to be happening…