Homes evacuated during Carnhill alert

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Dozens of residents, including a number of pensioners, had to be evacuated from their homes on Wednesday during a security alert in Carnhill.

The security alert began shortly after 9am on Wednesday following the discovery of a pipe bomb type device outside the home of a man who was shot in the leg in a so-called punishment style shooting last Thursday night.

Vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) said it carried out the gun attack on the 24 year-old.

Around 40 families were evacuated from their homes as a result of Wednesday’s security alert as British army bomb disposal experts examined the object.

Many of the evacuated residents were elderly and a minibus from the Carnhill Resource Centre was used to take them to relatives’ homes.

One resident, 75 year-old Frances Curran, a wheelchair user, described the experience as “awful.”

“It’s really terrible. This is a quiet area with mostly older people who should be able to live in peace. It’s awful,” she said.

Her daughter, Martina, described those responsible for the security alert as “cowardly” as she helped her mother from her home.

“It’s been quite traumatic for her to have to move from her home like this. She has to use a wheelchair and can’t walk without a zimmer frame so it’s not easy for her to just get up and go.

“I think the people who did this are cowardly. This should be a thing of the past,” she said.

She also asked those behind the security alert to think about the disruption caused. “I would ask them to picture their own mothers in this position. It is ridiculous and they are just cowards,” she added.

Another elderly resident, who did not wish to be named, said it was the first time she had left her house in seven years because of mobility problems and explained that she had to be helped to a neighbour’s house.

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Colum Eastwood, condemned the incident. “This is an attack not only on the person this was intended for but on the whole street and neighbourhood. It is disgraceful that older people had to leave their homes because of this.

“These people should reflect on the consequences of their actions and desist from such behaviour in the future.

“This is not the way to solve community issues,” he said.

Outgoing SDLP MLA Mary Bradley was at the scene on Wednesday morning helping residents from their homes. “It was disgraceful. This had been a big upheaval for the residents and don’t need this at their time of life,” she said.

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney also condemned the security alert. “I am making it clear to those responsible that the community does not want this and those behind it need to stop and need to consider their actions.

“In leaving this device they have shown no regard for the community in Carnhill. There were concerns in the area about the response time from the PSNI. We have raised those concerns with the PSNI and said that we expect every step is taken to ensure that public safety is paramount in such circumstances,” he said.