Derry pensioner’s bombscare horror

Margaret Coyle who was removed from her home when a suspect device was discoverd in her garden at Strabane Old Road.  (DER4413JB012)
Margaret Coyle who was removed from her home when a suspect device was discoverd in her garden at Strabane Old Road. (DER4413JB012)

The daughter of a Derry pensioner who was forced to evacuate her home after one of two bomb alerts in the Waterside yesterday, has lambasted those responsible for leaving a hoax device at her mother’s front door.

69-year-old Margaret Coyle from Strabane Old Road, who relies on an oxygen tank because of ill health, was told to get out of her house ‘straight away’ by police and had to run to her daughter’s house in Strabane Old Road after the device was discovered.

A relative of Mrs, Coyle’s had been helping her to the front door of her home after a controlled explosion had been carried out at another scene nearby when he saw the object which he described as a “pipe with wires coming out of it.”

Pamela Coyle said her mother who has lived in the area for over 40 years had been left “terrified” by her ordeal. Police confirmed last night that both devices, although hoaxes “had been designed to look viable.”

Speaking as the alert was ongoing yesterday, Pamela Coyle said:

“This is an absolute disgrace. People in this community know the people who are doing this and nothing is being done about it. This has really set my mother back and she was left without oxygen so long yesterday that she took a turn. When we discovered that what looked like a pipe bomb was sitting at her front door, my brother had to wave down a police landrover and as soon as they saw it they had to shout at everyone to get out as quickly as possible. My mother is in no fit state to be dealing with something like this.”

“She had to be moved out of her home and it’s just not good enough. What kind of people would leave something like that at a pensioner’s front door. It’s sickening,” she said.

“These people have been terrorising this place for too long and it’s not good enough. This has to stop before someone is left dead.”

The Waterside woman, who lives near her mother in Strabane Old Road, said her mother had hoped to stay in her own home but had been left very badly shaken by yesterday’s events.

“We take turns in staying with her at night but she’s always wanted to stay here in her own home where she’s always been. Now, after this, she’s just not sure anymore. It’s heartbreaking.”

There has been widespread condemnation for yesterday’s alerts from local political representatives as well as the clergy.

A controlled explosion was carried out by Army Technical Officers on an object at Mimosa Court. The second alert, at the Coyle home, lasted until shortly after 2pm yesterday.

A number of homes were evacuated. The YMCA centre in Drumahoe and Hillcrest Family Centre were made available for the residents affected.

Sinn Féin Waterside Councillor Bridget Meehan said those behind the bomb alert are not wanted by the community.

Councillor Meehan said: “Whoever was behind this incident should explain to local residents what they have achieved by forcing families from their homes. The people of this area want to get on with their lives and trying to improve the future for their children without elements causing distress and inconvenience.”

SDLP MLA for Foyle Pat Ramsey condemned those involved in leaving the suspect device. Mr. Ramsey said: “Whoever this device was aimed at, those responsible have attacked the whole community. The SDLP condemns this attack and I call on those who have planted this device to stop immediately.”

Waterside Parish Priest Fr. Michael Canny said: “While having no knowledge of the motives of those involved in planting the devices at homes in the Gobnascale area of the parish, I invite those involved to reflect on the consequences of what they have done and follow the path of peace.

“The actions of those who planted the devices have achieved nothing or furthered any objective other than cause disruption to the lives of ordinary people going about their daily affairs on a Saturday morning and create fear and anxiety in the lives of the local community, many who are sick and elderly. This community has had more than its share of pain and suffering through the years and the last thing they need is to be harassed by the people who engage in this mindless activity.”