Security alert an ‘elaborate hoax’

Police have promised a ‘robust investigation’ into the security alert which forced residents to leave their Bradley Park homes on Derry’s Racecourse Road early yesterday morning.

A number of businesses, including Northside Shopping Centre, also had to close for the duration of the alert which began at 6:00am after a fire extinguisher wrapped inside a bin liner was found near a lamp post in the area.

The area remained sealed off for almost four hours while police investigated the device which was later declared an elaborate hoax.

It’s believed large numbers of teenagers had been gathering and drinking in the area the night before and that police had been called to deal with the crowds. The Sunday Journal also understands a quantity of alcohol was confiscated from underage drinkers who wreaked havoc in the area including damaging the wall of a nearby house.

One local resident whose home was evacuated during the subsequent security alert described the experience was terrifying.

“I was asleep in bed at 6:00am when the police came to the door,” she told the Sunday Journal.

The sixty year old woman was one of a number of people sent to Templemore Sports Complex temporarily while the device was dealt with.

“We were just told to get out for our own safety and that the complex would be opened for us,” she said.

“There were young children and a girl with Cerebral Palsy and we had to make our own way there. Thankfully, a kind hearted taxi driver who saw us walking stopped and gave us a lift. The whole experience was terrible, The people who do these things don’t think about the rest of us at all,” she added.

Sinn Fein Councillor for the area, Tony Hassan, also slammed those responsible.

“It’s disgusting that local residents have to put up with this and were woken out of their beds to this frightening news so early in the morning,” he said.

“Business people have been disrupted too and local teams who were due to play in the nearby Leafair Pitches as part of the Derry and District football league were unable to do so. I thoroughly condemn the actions of those responsible and also those young people who gathered in the area and caused so much trouble the night before. This is the last thing the people of this area want,” he added.

Local SDLP Councillor Shaun Gallagher said the local business community had suffered greatly as a result of the alert.

“This is an incredibly busy weekend for everyone in Northside in particular and the fact that they were unable to open yesterday morning will be a big loss,” he said.

“The actions of those responsible are to be condemned in the strongest possible terms, both those who caused trouble in the area on Friday night by drinking and vandalising, and those who left this device and caused utter disruption. It’s totally unacceptable,” he added.

A police spokesperson said: “Police in Derry condemn anyone who would stoop to cause disruption and fear in their community. The people who have been most disrupted and put out by this latest alert are local residents. The incident is being fully and robustly investigated. When those responsibly are identified they will be brought before the courts to face the full rigours of the law.”