Security alerts end with “nothing untoward” being found

The scene on Saturday evening at Derry's railway station.
The scene on Saturday evening at Derry's railway station.

Two security alerts declared along the route of an Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) parade on Saturday afternoon ended around lunchtime on Sunday.

On Saturday night an underground rave taking place at a car park in Ebrington was also evacuated.

The alerts began at around 4pm on Saturday afternoon following the conclusion of the annual Lundy’s Day parade when members of the ABOD and supporters were returning to the city’s railway station to travel home.

The first alert was declared at the rail station which was evacuated and closed, as was the rail line between Derry and Coleraine. Translink then supplied buses to take those unable to use trains back to their destinations. A second alert was declared close the Quarry Steps area of Spencer Road.

Heavy traffic disruption was caused in the Waterside for a period as a result of the incidents. The dual carriageway leading to Duke Street from Dales Corner was cordoned off by police as was Simpson’s Brae. As a result traffic piled up at Glendermot Road, Clooney Terrace and Spencer Road.

Area Commander, Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan said: “The security operation commenced following claims that explosive devices had been left in the area of Quarry Steps and the railway station. Our priority throughout this operation was to keep people safe. We appreciate the support of local people as we worked to establish the substance of the claims and I would like to thank members of the public for their patience and co-operation during this operation.

“Whilst we have conducted a detailed search of the area I would ask local people to remain vigilant and, If you see any suspicious objects, please do not touch them but inform police immediately by dialling 999.”

Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP condemned the incidents.

Mr McCartney said: “These security alerts brought nothing but disruption to the city.

“The evacuation of the railway station and the closure of the train line between Derry and Coleraine, combined with the security alert on Spencer Road, has resulted in long delays ahead of the evening rush hour.

“They have also caused disruption to city centre traders who were already experiencing a slower than usual day in the run up to Christmas as a result of the Apprentice Boys parade.

“Great strides have been made in recent years by the local community, the Apprentice Boys and the PSNI to ensure a respectful atmosphere and minimise disruption and those efforts have been widely supported.

“These alerts do nothing for the image of the Derry as a forward looking city.”

And, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said those who seek to raise tension between communities in the city are acting against the will of people in Derry.

“Derry is often cited as the model for successful resolution of contentious parades. We have a longstanding tradition of respect for everyone’s identity and culture in this city, indeed the spirit of openness was key to winning the bid for City of Culture while I was Mayor.

“Those who seek to disrupt that respect or diminish the process of reconciliation in this city with bombs or bullets have betrayed the people of Derry. This is not about a divide between Catholics and Protestants, unionism and nationalism or loyalists and republicans. The only divide in this city is between those who want to blow our peace apart and those of us who will stand together to protect it.

“Derry has overcome so much through years of conflict. We will continue to overcome those who try to diminish our peace. I would encourage anyone with any information about these incidents to get in touch with the PSNI as soon as possible,” he said.