Bomb find in Village ‘not the work of outsiders’

By Paul Ainsworth

A South Belfast MLA has hit out at suggestions a bomb find in the Village area was the responsibility of outsiders insisting it could be no-one other than a “small cabal” of loyalists.

Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey was speaking after the discovery of two viable devices in Donegall Avenue, which a local unionist councillor insisted was not linked to local paramilitaries.

UUP councillor Bob Stoker said the devices, which were found in a derelict property and which forced residents from their homes for several hours, were a “complete act of madness”.

However he said that despite their discovery in a close knit, loyalist area he believed people from outside the district were to blame for the devices.

“A lot of properties on the street are vacant, and there’s a suggestion that someone could have been making these devices there for transport to other parts of the city including the centre of town,” said Mr Stoker. “From my knowledge, the loyalist paramilitaries in the area have no knowledge of who was behind it and are condemning this as well.”

Asked if he suspected the work of republicans, he added: “It has happened before a few years ago, when a booby trap device was left in the area. This part of the Village has quite a transient population with people coming and going.”

However, his claim that the bombs were linked to perpetrators from outside the area were dismissed by Mr Maskey.

“It’s disappointing to hear a local representative being more comfortable claiming this was the work of those from outside the area, rather than face the reality of what is going on in their community,” he said.

“This appears to have been the work of a small cabal from within the Village area, who thankfully have little support for their negative agenda. The local community doesn’t want this, and the perpetrators need to realise it.”

Local resident Jim McShannon, who lives in the Donegall Avenue area was one of the residents forced to leave his home while the bombs were made safe.

“It was around 4am before we were allowed back to our houses, so as you can imagine, it was a very uncomfortable experience for people living here. I feel sorry for some of the elderly residents who were forced out while this was going on. “We’ve had trouble with anti-social behaviour in those derelict houses before, but nothing like this.”

 

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