‘Jail them for life’

Residents were evacuated from their homes on Monday evening after a suspicious object was found close to the Abbots Croft TA base. INNT 08-092-FP
Residents were evacuated from their homes on Monday evening after a suspicious object was found close to the Abbots Croft TA base. INNT 08-092-FP

ANGRY residents in the Rathfern, Whiteabbey and Doagh Road areas have called on those that brought disruption to their doors after a series of security alerts to be “jailed for life”.

Disruption was caused on Friday night and again on Monday evening when several suspect devices were found in the areas. All were subsequently declared hoaxes.

On both nights, residents were evacuated from their homes and traffic was disrupted for a number of hours.

Alderman Billy Ball, who lives in the area and was himself forced from his home on Friday night, said residents were “really angry”.

He said: “They want whoever caused this to be locked up and jailed for life. No one wants this and they are furthering no Protestant cause. There’s a lot of anger out there and people are sick of this constant trouble every week.”

On Friday night a suspect device was found in a phone box close to the entrance of the Rathfern estate.

Numerous people, including young, old, frail and the disabled were forced from their homes.

The bomb squad was called in to deal with the object and again later it had to examine a device left behind the nearby Tesco at Cloughfern Corner.

Just hours earlier Union flag protesters had planned to call off their demonstration and present police with flowers to pay their respects to the constable killed in a car accident just days earlier in Londonderry.

However, after a police conducted a search of a home in the area on Thursday (February 14) a white line protest took place and there was no presentation made to police.

Alderman Ball continued: “There was a whole spectrum of people moved from their homes on Friday. Some were able to go to friends or relatives homes while others had to go to the Valley Leisure Centre to wait it out.

“The police were very good and informative and kept people updated about what was happening. I actually felt sorry for them, but they dealt with the matter very well.

“But it should not have happened in the first place. There were a lot of people inconvenienced by this, not just the residents but also visitors to the hospice in Whiteabbey Hospital and council staff who had to stay on in the leisure centre.

“The residents are very angry that once again they have been dragged down by all this again.

“Every weekend there seems to be something and people’s lives are disrupted because they do not know what is happening and can not plan for anything or get on with their lives - it’s a nightmare for them

“Hopefully whoever is responsible will listen to those residents and just stop what they are doing.”

On Monday night a suspect device was found close to the Abbots Croft Territorial Army base, again forcing nearby residents from their homes. It was declared an elaborate hoax following examinations by army technical officers.

Police are investigating all three incidents.