Residents housed at community centre following security alert

Families evacuated due to a security alert in Derry have spoken of the impact on local people.

Saturday, 28th January 2017, 3:06 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th January 2017, 4:13 pm
Earhart Park residents Tim McGillan and his daughter Nicole, pictured speaking with SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins at Shantallow Community Centre.

Numerous families have been evacuated, while others have been ordered to head to the back of their properties as Army Technical Officers continued their work at the security alert this afternoon.

Of those evacuated several residents have been accommodated at Shantallow Community Centre, while others went to stay with relatives.

Tim McGillan had been out for a walk and was returning home when he noticed the commotion at the entrance to the estate.

SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins with Stella McCauley pictured at Shantallow Community Centre.

“It was sealed just where the bus turns. I just asked the policeman was there any chance of getting up to the house. ‘He said we’re not letting anybody up there’s a suspect device’. They were waiting on bomb disposal to come.

“He said people were going to Shantallow Community Centre so I came over here to see.”

His daughter Nicole (18) had been up the town and was returning home when her father rang her to tell her what had happened.

“I told her you’ll not get home,” her father said.

The cordon at Earhart Park in Derry this afternoon.

Tim said they the worst thing was not knowing when they would be allowed to return home.

He also praised staff at the centre. “Thank God it was open, and they put on a quare spread of food for everybody.”

Stella McCauley, who works at the Community Centre, said her daughter and two grand-daughters aged ten and 18 months were also among those evacuated from their home at Earhart Park.

“Thankfully she was able to come to my house. My granddaughter, she’s 10, was a bit shaken up and asking ‘why are they doing this to our street’ and ‘who are they?’”

SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins with Stella McCauley pictured at Shantallow Community Centre.

Stella said the staff at the Community Centre notified local people via Facebook to come to the centre, before she went out to get some food for the evacuees.

“There were people leaving with babies in prams and people still in their pyjamas they had to get out that quick. It’s able bodied and disabled people living in Earhart Park, there’s a lot of bungalows.

“Some people have gone out shopping and they will be coming back here for a bite to eat.

“It’s just a matter of waiting now to see when they are going to get back in again.”

The cordon at Earhart Park in Derry this afternoon.

SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins, speaking at the centre, said: “The actions of a few can stress so many. It doesn’t matter what day it is, but this is a Saturday and the children are not at school, and there are some people are out getting their groceries and people just don’t know when they will be allowed home.

“In that area there is a lot of bungalows and therefore a lot of pensioners, people with disabilities, and a lot of young families. There has been so much disruption.

“If this is a viable device it is really worrying and we don’t want this in our community,” she added.