Widespread anger after children are put at risk

Youngster picks up unexploded pipe bomb after barracks attack

By Ciara Quinn

ST OLIVER Plunkett Parish Priest Fr Martin Magill has called on those behind the double pipe bomb attack on Woodbourne barracks on Monday night to redirect their energy into ways and means that will “benefit everyone and harm no-one in our community”.

Two pipe bombs were thrown at the barracks at around 10.30pm on Monday night. One failed to go off and  was then picked up by a crowd of young people, believed to be around the ages of 16, who had been standing outside nearby shops on the Suffolk Road. It was taken to the rear of the station and handed to the PSNI.

Pictures of a young person holding the unexploded pipe bomb appeared on the social networking site Facebook hours after the attack took place. Up to nine homes and businesses were evacuated until late on Tuesday afternoon with young families from Woodbourne Crescent having to stay with family or friends in the nearby Horn Drive and Lenadoon areas.

Police have blamed dissident republicans for the attack.

Fr Magill told the Andersonstown News that the attack “contrasts negatively with the energy and imagination that was celebrated in the recent Féile an Phobail.” He went on: “Indeed, only last week St Oliver Plunkett Parish hosted a number of events which were supported by a range of people from various religious backgrounds and none and with a wide range of political opinions. I believe churches, along with others, have a part to play in providing safe places where people of whatever background can come to be listened to and to explore together how we all can play our part in creating a just, merciful, loving and peaceful society.”

Sinn Féin MLA Sue Ramsey hit out at those behind the attack but stressed that work to transform the station must continue.

“Those behind the pipe bomb attack on Woodbourne PSNI station clearly have no interest in respecting what the republican community of West Belfast want. This attack was wrong and it  endangered people living nearby. It only takes one of these devices to be misthrown along the strip of waste ground behind the station and a child to find it. I am quite sure that those responsible wouldn’t go and retrieve it. Regardless of where it landed, though, it was a reckless and futile act,” she said

“While there is no justification for these attacks, for the PSNI Area Commander to use such actions as a excuse not to move on the required improvements to the station that this community are demanding is unacceptable. The station is an eyesore from bygone days and if it is to remain here any length of time it needs to be transformed.

“The scenario exists, though, that while this part-time shell of a PSNI station remains it will continue to be a target of attacks for dissident groupings with nothing to offer this community.

“We need to see this station eventually closed, the land granted for community use and effective policing delivered on the ground.”

SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood told the Andersonstown News that “the lives of our young people should never be placed in such an extremely dangerous situation.”

“This outrageous attack on police at Woodbourne police station is to be condemned,” he said. “It is an attack not just on the PSNI but on the wider West Belfast community who will be shocked and angry at this act of terror.

“It is particularly disturbing that children found a second unexploded device and carried it to PSNI officers.

“Those involved cling to the failed and deadly ways of the past.”

DUP Councillor Brian Kingston condemned the attack, saying that the incident “exposes yet again the recklessness of terrorism”.

“Those responsible were aware that the second device had not exploded yet they left it lying in the area,” he said. “They were prepared to put any local person at risk, including these innocent children. We could have had death and serious injury caused to both police officers and local children. The evil of this speaks for itself.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said detectives are  appealing for information.

“At approximately 10.30pm, officers heard what they believed to be an explosion in the vicinity of the rear of the station. Whilst carrying out follow-up enquiries, a number of children handed a device to officers at the station – this is believed to have been a device which had not exploded. Further searches were carried out in the area and a second exploded device was recovered.

“Anyone with information about the attack is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively, information can be given by telephoning Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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