‘Enough is enough’ rebuke to Newtownabbey hoaxers

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COMMUNITY representatives have called for an end to the continuing disruption which saw two more security alerts in Newtownabbey over the weekend.

Alerts caused disruption in Glengormley on Saturday and in the Whitehouse area on Sunday morning.

Suspicious objects were left close to a GAA club and in the grounds of a Catholic church in what appears to be an orchestrated loyalist campaign of intimidation.

Fr Anthony Alexander, whose church has been targeted three times in recent weeks, has said he can’t allow the disruption to get to him.

A suspect device was found in the grounds of St Mary’s Star of the Sea Church on Sunday morning.

Police were forced to evacuated homes, including those of the elderly living nearby and the church’s morning Mass was moved to St Mary’s Church in Greencastle.

Fr Anthony said: “I can’t and won’t allow this to disrupt the church as much as possible and I refuse to get angry or annoyed, sure what can you do?

“We moved the Mass to Greencastle and we did get a good number out, despite some people not being able to make it because of the diversions in place.

“It’s the surrounding community that really suffer because they are the worst affected. There were elderly people moved from their homes.

“And it is not just in our area this is happening, it is right across Newtownabbey.

“I don’t know what is behind this or why it is happening, I would just like it to stop.”

Alliance councillor Billy Webb, who is a parishioner of the church, condemned those behind the incident.

He said: “I fail to understand what kind of person would take pleasure in having pensioners evacuated from their homes and one in particular, who is bedridden and can’t be evacuated, left in fear.

“I appeal to whoever, or whatever organisation, carrying out these attacks at this church and at other areas to stop. They will achieve nothing.”

Sunday’s alert followed on from another incident on Saturday afternoon in Glengormley.

A suspicious object was left close to the memorial of murdered teenager Gavin Brett on the Hightown Road.

A number of people in the nearby St Enda’s GAA club had to be held on the premises while Army bomb experts dealt with the device, which was later declared an elaborate hoax.

SDLP councillor Noreen McClelland said: “This weekend again we see Newtownabbey in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. I constantly ask the question: what do these people hope to gain from such actions?

“The vast majority of people in Glengormley want to get on with their lives unhindered by the mindless thugs who have taken it upon themselves to disrupt and interfere with people’s lives.

“We are all working hard to bring business back into Glengormley and these individuals, whoever they may be and whatever their cause is, have no place in this society. We are moving on and I hope they will be caught and dealt with appropriately by the courts.”

Sinn Fein councillor Gerry O’Reilly said there was clearly a sectarian campaign ongoing within the Newtownabbey area to try and intimidate the local Catholic population.

He said: “This is the lowest point of sectarianism, when people’s place of worship is targeted. I would call on all political parties and community representatives to come out and clearly condemn this behaviour and support people’s right to attend their worship, free from disruption and intimidation.

“Sectarianism is a scourge in our society and it needs to be challenged and condemned, whenever or wherever it arises.”