News Letter
13 March 2012

A BOMB which partially exploded under a car in east Belfast on Monday afternoon was paramilitary, according to the chairman of Belfast District Policing Partnership.

The PSNI said last night that a suspicious object in the Flora Street area turned out to be a viable device, after examination by Army bomb experts.

Blaming paramilitaries, DPP chairman Jim Rodgers said that “a device partially exploded under a vehicle” and some 120 homes had to be evacuated.

Police directed motorists to avoid the area and closed Flora Street for much of the day.

“I want to hit out at those responsible for this in east Belfast,” said Mr Rogers, a former city Lord Mayor.

The UUP councillor pointed to other similar incidents in the area in recent months. A device was thrown into a car window in Tamar Street and a pipe bomb thrown at a house, in Invernook Drive – both on Friday night.

Shots were fired at a house in Pansy Street two weeks ago and shots were also fired through a window in Invernook Drive three weeks ago.

“It is quite clear that someone is going to be killed,” Mr Rogers said. “There are going to be innocent people hurt.”

He said nobody has been charged with any of the incidents he mentioned and that two people arrested have been released on police bail.

“I am appealing for the community to work with the police in bringing these people before the courts,” he said.

“The paramilitaries are still very much with us,” he said. “Loyalists and republicans – it is time to bring it all to an end. Despite decommissioning it is quite clear there are a lot of guns and explosives available on the streets.”

The violence was helping to close the doors of businesses and cause redundancies in east Belfast.

“This is absolutely frightening people away. The Titanic attraction opens in a few weeks and it is less than a mile away from tonight’s incident.

“Those responsible for this violence are making it extremely difficult to bring jobs into east Belfast.”

The councillor said he had met four or five investors in the past six months who had the potential to bring up to 40 jobs into the area.

“Each one of them hit me up the face with the issue of ongoing terrorism in east Belfast,” he said. “This is very clearly paramilitary related.”

He said the ongoing violence had been raised at the District Policing Partnership meeting yesterday.

“We were assured that patrols in the area are to be stepped up,” he said.

East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long has expressed disgust at the security alert, which she said was near Elmgrove School.

“It is absolutely despicable that in the space of three days there have been three separate incidents in the area. It is deeply disturbing that some people appear to be willing to engage in this type of activity, with no regard for people’s safety or for the disruption that their actions inevitably cause. I would appeal to anyone with information on this deeply worrying incident to contact police immediately.”

Alliance Councillor Máire Hendron said: “The site of the alert is very near Elmgrove School and it is absolutely appalling that anyone could bring themselves to be involved in something like this. I visited the scene and talked to people in the area, and there is a palpable sense of shock at this.”

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