Northern Ireland news

Police dismiss Continuity IRA claims it left command-wire bomb in Lurgan

The scene in Lurgan on Wednesday after the Continuity IRA said it had abandoned a bomb. Picture by Mal McCann
Connla Young

THE Continuity IRA has admited responsibility for a bomb alert which caused widespread disruption in Co Armagh.

The group said it left a device near the site of a former school in Lurgan. Using a recognised codeword, it said the device with a command wire attached was left in a bin at the gates of the former St Michael’s Grammar School. The group said it “abandoned” the device due to “security force activity” in the area on Tuesday night.

However, on Wednesday night police described the device as “a hoax” and said it had been taken away for further examination.

Police were initially alerted after receiving several warnings that a bomb had been abandoned in a “vulnerable state”. After a security operation Cornakinnegar Road, between North Circular Road and Tarry Lane, was closed while the object was examined.

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: “A large number of residents were evacuated from their homes for a considerable period of time and pupils at two local primary schools were affected by the incident.

“The blame for the inconvenience, however, lies squarely with those individuals who left this close to a local school.

“While this object has been declared to be a hoax our primary aim throughout has been community safety and we are committed to doing this by working with the
community.  

“During the course of today a number of calls were received claiming that terrorists had left what they described as an unstable device in the area. The security operation caused significant disruption to the people of the area but was necessary to allow for a careful examination of the scene in order to keep people safe.

“The overwhelming majority of people in the community do not want this type of activity and we as a police service will continue to work to bring those responsible before the courts.”

The SDLP’s Joe Nelson, chair of the area’s Policing and Community Safety Partnership, said he was concerned by the development.

“It’s just not acceptable and the community is sick and tired of it. Any disruption also disrupts their own community.”

The Continuity IRA has pockets of support across the north and has been active in the north Armagh area in the past.

It murdered Constable Stephen Carroll in a sniper attack in Craigavon in March 2009. The officer, who was the first member of the PSNI to be killed by republicans, was lured to the Lismore Manor area in response to a call before the ambush was launched.

In 2013 a bomb exploded in a bin close to two PSNI Land Rovers during an Easter parade, which included masked men, in the Kilwilkee Estate in Lurgan. No-one was injured.

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