THE DUP has hit out after two of its Newtownabbey councillors were the target of a hoax device on Wednesday night (February 27).
The suspect device was left outside the Rathfern home of councillors Billy and Audrey Ball.
Police closed roads in the area from just before midnight for almost three hours and evacuated homes while army bomb experts examined the object.
The Valley Leisure Centre was opened to accommodate those residents forced out of their homes. The object was subsequently declared an elaborate hoax and residents returned to their homes just after 2.30am on Thursday morning.
North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said those that carried out the attack were “cowardly thugs and bullies”.
He said: “Billy and Audrey are highly regarded and hard-working elected representatives. I spent several hours with them and their neighbours who were evacuated to the Valley Leisure Centre.
“Local people are disgusted that they should have been targeted in this way and there is complete support for them. They are resolved not be deterred by this blatant and cowardly act of intimidation.”
He added: “The people who planned and carried out this attack are exposed as cowardly thugs and bullies. They seek to intimidate and to undermine the democratic system through threats and acts of terror. They cannot be allowed to succeed and I urge the entire community to reject their actions.”
DUP Councillor and Macedon representative Thomas Hogg added: “I am appalled and disgusted by this attack on the family home of my party and council colleagues.
“All right-thinking people across Newtownabbey will condemn this sinister attack and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Ball family at this time.
“Billy served this country for many years in the Ulster Defence Regiment and through his role as a councillor has gained a reputation as a champion for veterans and service personnel.
“His record of selfless commitment and service stands in contrast to those who spinelessly perpetrated this act under the cover of darkness.”
This was the second security alert in the area for the second night running after police were forced to close part of the Shore Road after a suspect device was found in the Hazelbank Park area.
Over the past three weeks there have been a series of security alerts in the Rathfern and Whiteabbey areas causing serious disruption to residents.
Councillor Hogg and MLA Nelson McCausland urged anyone with information about the alerts to contact police.