Councillors seek answers over bomb hoax

Councillors Billy and Audrey Ball.
Councillors Billy and Audrey Ball.

COUNCILLOR Billy Ball has asked for reasons as to why he and his family were the target of a hoax device left at their home last week.

The DUP alderman and his wife Audrey, who is also an elected representative, were forced out of their Rathfern home after a suspicious object was left in the area last Wednesday, February 27.

Many of their neighbours and friends were also out of their homes until the early hours of Thursday morning while Army bomb experts examined the device.

The Valley Leisure Centre was opened to accommodate those people who had been displaced.

Ald Ball said the disruption had left him “very angry”. He added: “Not because I was moved out of my home, but because friends and neighbours had to again leave their homes late at night.

“It’s disgraceful. But everyone, including the police, the Army and council staff did their job very well.

“Also Cllr Thomas Hogg, MLA Nelson McCaulsand and our local pastor came down to support us, which was nice of them and good to have the company.

“Things like this really do bring the best out of people. My phone has not stopped with people wishing me well and offering their support.”

He added: “But for me, I just want to know why? Why this constant disruption? Why me and my family?

“It would be nice if they came out and explained themselves and what they hope to achieve, but that would be asking too much of them and they will just continue to hide behind their masks.

“We know it is young people behind this, which is very worrying because they will end up with a record and that takes them down a very unpleasant route and one that will be very hard for them to get away from and create a stable, prosperous life for themselves.”

In the past week, there have been five security alerts in the Rathfern, O’Neill Road and Doagh Road areas.

Ald Ball said: “If they want to start those antics of blocking roads and causing disruption, then Newtownabbey is not going to be the place to look for jobs, because people will not want to invest in the borough.

“It’s very worrying. But if anyone has any information about who is responsible for the disruption, then I would urge them to contact the police.”

The Mayor, Ald Victor Robinson, also called on those responsible to explain their actions.

He said: “This deplorable act is not only an attack on the local people but an attack on democracy itself. I am convinced that the attack was directed at the family home of these local elected representatives.

“These senseless attacks on our community must be stopped. The people who are doing this must ask themselves: Why?

“What useful purpose is it serving? The local community is fed up to the back teeth with this disruption to their daily lives.”

Both Cllr Hogg and Assembly member Nelson McCausland condemned the planting of the suspicious device and urged people to contact the police if they have information related to the recent disruption.