North Belfast alert is ‘hoax’

A suspicious object, which led to the evacuation of up to 50 houses in the Mountcollyer Avenue area of north Belfast, has been declared a hoax.

Allarme sicurezza | Security alertThe item, at first thought to be a pipe bomb, was discovered close to offices used by a loyalist organisation in the area on Friday afternoon.

Limestone Road, which was closed at its junctions with Mountcollyer Avenue and York Road, has been reopened.

The alert caused trafffic disruption during Friday evening’s rush hour.

A number of businesses on nearby York Road were evacuated between Seaview Street and Brougham Street.

Shelter at Crosscollyer Evangelical Presbyterian Church were made available to evacuated local residents and business staff.

They were allowed to return at around 6pm.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: “This is a frightening incident coming on top of the terrible attempted bombing on the Antrim Road this week. These are appalling attacks, whether those responsible claim to come from a Republican and Loyalist background.

“None of these factions have any real support in North Belfast. It is clear that the overwhelming majority of people on both sides of the community want to move on and have no time for this.”

Local resident Norma Wilson said people are now scared to go out.

“I don’t think it’s right. I don’t know why they should do it – it’s usually quiet around here and it has been,” she said.

“It’s mostly elderly people who live on the street too which is not great. Some of them won’t come out and some can’t get out because they’re disabled.

“People should know that it’s mostly elderly living round here,” she added.

“It’s terrible. You’re scared to go out now.”

Meanwhile, a suspicious object has been discovered in Garvagh, Co Londonderry.

The Curraghmore Road was closed on Friday evening at its Drumbane Road junction.

Army bomb experts are at the scene of the ongoing alert.

Earlier a viable pipe bomb was discovered at a housing development in Ballyclare, Co Antrim.

The device was viable and was taken away for forensic examinations after police and army bomb experts attended the scene on the Rashee Road at around 4am on Friday.