Explosion in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter

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Police Service of Northern IrelandThis evening there was a small explosion in Belfast’s busy Cathedral Quarter where there are many restaurants and bars where there will have been many out on work parties for Christmas.

The Police Service has confirmed that it was caused by a bomb, but no further detail is available as yet.

The Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats fully support the police and army in their roles in investigating the security alert this evening. We can be thankful that there are no reports of anyone hurt on this occasion.

Tonight’s incident reminds us all that we should be looking out for suspicious objects and that we must report any to the police as soon as possible.

There’s a knock at the door, it’s the Police… what next?

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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.

Recent incidents include:

 

Help us all by telling PSNI about those who plant hoax devices

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Police Service of Northern Ireland

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.

Originally published on Michael Carchrie Campbell

those who create terror must not be let to win

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Police Service of Northern Ireland

Badge of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With reports from Chris Lindsay, BBC journalist on NewsLine that Omagh Police station is being evacuated due to a suspicious package,

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.

Originally posted at Michael Carchrie Campbell.

I’ve registered to serve you, now over to Greater Manchester Police

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Police cordon at Sheffield Conference

Police cordon at Sheffield Conference this March

As Michael blogged earlier registration for Autumn conference has now opened.

As is laid out in our parties constitution:

Article 6: The Federal Conference
6.1 The conference will consist of
(a) Representatives of Local Parties…
6.3 Representatives of Local Parties shall be elected by all members of the Local Party concerned…

As one of the four the local party elected that way last year I am duly honoured, and booked my hotel and flight to Birmingham months ago. I was just waiting for registration to be opened (I’d missed the deadline for dual registration) and also to know my conference status before applying. The earliest discount period runs out on 10th June giving people less than 10 days from when it was announced to apply, I expect a rush.

This year we all have to submit a new photograph. Mine was a new one only last year I believe! We also have to provide more information to the police not in the West Midlands, but in Greater Manchester to verify. This is more information than I think I had to provide to work at Stormont pre-devolution, it is also more than I recently provided to open a bank account. All because as Michael said I’m going to go for the  lively policy debate –especially seeking to keep the Parliamentary Party in check, the networking opportunities keeping up old ones and developing new ones, plus the Wide Variety of fringe events. Also because as my friend Caron has said of the new “more comprehensive security pass application”:

“do I want the policy of my party to be decided by people who think this sort of stuff is ok? That would just rip the heart and soul out of the party”

The answer of course is no! So I’m hoping to be heading off to Birmingham and have now jumped through all the hoops I have to, just now need to see where I land.

I’ve also put up with the somewhat illiberal way I’ve had to had over details to a police force and any other it would seem for perpetuity for future conferences despite my personal, and I thought party’s, stance against the ID card police state. It is now in the police’s hands whether I get accreditation not the members of the local party who voted for me to be their rep.

Being of course Northern Irish does throw up a couple of additional concerns that I may not be able to attend.

Image courtesy of Sarah Brown

The first form of ID that was requested was my passport number. I thought which one? I’m not alone in this Island of being one of those with more than one. Though I need not have worried as soon as I entered one it bounced up the question do I have a second one. So that is me flagged as a Republican, my fate might be in the hands of a dissident group after all this.

Of course the fact that I am applying for a Northern Irish Local Party may cause eyebrows to be raised. After all you will not find reference to our local party number 900 on the Lib Dem Federal website. Go on try to but in the postcode for Parliament Buildings at Stormont BT4 3XX into the find your local party finder on the home page. Or scroll to the bottom of that page and click on the link to Northern Ireland, do you end up here at Lib Dems NI or here at the Alliance Party? This is something the local party exec have raised with the powers that be and we will be raising it again as a matter of urgency.

So the possibility is that as  local party number 900 (Northern Ireland) somehow does not seem to exist on the party’s own website some over officious bobby may create “the unlikely event that [my] accreditation is unsuccessful” despite me being elected by you, a frequent voting rep in the past, having now paid for flights, accommodation and conference fees.

I just hope we don’t have a Orwellian thought police sanction imposed at future Lib Dem conferences, we like our debate but the hall would end up empty.

Update There is now a petition to keep Liberal Democrat Conference Liberal please go and sign it.

Omagh car bomb condemned and community urged to stand firm against such atrocities

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Police Service of Northern Ireland

Image via Wikipedia

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.

we must not let the thugs take us back in time

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Northern Ireland for the relatively uninformed people of the rest of the United Kingdom is peaceful. Or so they think. Last night, a police officer was taken to hospital after suffering a head injury in Ballyclare, County Antrim. He was on a routine patrol. He has subsequently been released. Some time later, other police vehicles and officers were attacked by petrol bombs.

Who are these attackers?

They are masked thugs. Thugs who hide behind masks rather than showing their faces. Thugs who know that the vast majority of Northern Irish society is not behind them. But they seem intent on taking us back to the bad days of ‘the Troubles. We must not let the thugs take us back in time. Northern Ireland is moving steadily forward: the days of the past are gone.

Perhaps these masked men thugs are behind whatever criminality had the PSNI in the Grange estate in the first instance. The Police Service of Northern Ireland will keep going back and investigating, as the vast majority of the estate will be glad to know.

If anyone has any information about the attacks in Ballyclare, or any other information useful to the PSNI, please contact them on<strong> 0845 600 8000</strong>.

cross posted from: Gyronny Herald and Michael Campbell