‘It’s like anarchy’

Mayor Victor Robinson.
Mayor Victor Robinson.

Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Victor Robinson has said the reputation of the borough is at stake after a spate of security alerts caused widespread disruption during the past week.

Six security alerts in as many days have meant the police have had to close roads, evacuate homes and call in army bomb experts to deal with the suspicious objects.

Two of the devices, one left at a Catholic church in Glengormley and another outside a business on the Doagh Road, were described by police as “small, crude and viable” explosives, while all the others were declared “elaborate hoaxes”.

In one of the incidents, the home of two DUP councillors was thought to be the target of those behind the planting of a suspicious object, which was later declared a hoax.

Throughout the month of February police said there were 17 security alerts in the borough.

And on several occasions since December there has been serious public disorder in the Cloughfern area following loyalist flag protests.

Just this week the borough was officially unveiled as a host venue for the upcoming the World Police and Fire Games, something councillors have argued is vital for the promotion of Newtownabbey to visitors from around the world.

However, the Mayor believes the disruption caused by the constant stream of security alerts is putting the borough’s reputation at stake.

He told the Times: “We are working hard to bring much-needed business and investment to the borough and these people behind this activity are doing the opposite - it’s like anarchy.

“They don’t care about jobs, they just want to stretch the police and the council - I think that is their aim.

“But over the past week and because of this trouble unionist people have been in contact with me saying they don’t care if the flag never goes up because of this trouble. And that is playing right into the hands of the opposition.”

See more coverage in this week's Times...