Belfast Telegraph

Bomb alert at city's tourist office
Traffic disrupted in series of incidents

By Michael McHugh
16 February 2005

Newry City Hall was today evacuated after a suspicious package was found at the building's tourist office.

It was later declared a hoax and the building was reopened. Staff had been evacuated from Newry's City Hall and Sean Hollywood Arts Centre after police found the suspicious package.

An earlier security operation in the city was also declared a hoax.

And in a separate incident in Lurgan, a bomb investigation ended shortly after 10am and was also declared a hoax.

Traffic was disrupted in both Lurgan and Newry during the morning rush hour and caused major roads to be sealed off.

Commenting on the Newry City Hall operation a PSNI spokeswoman said: "A suspicious package was found at a tourist office. The building was evacuated."

A spokeswoman for Newry and Mourne District Council said: "A suspicious parcel was discovered by staff in Newry City Hall this morning when opening the post.

"The matter has now been passed for investigation to the appropriate authorities."

The first suspicious object was discovered near the Abbey Road and Water Street areas of Newry at around 8.45am.

Following a controlled explosion it was found to be a hoax.

SDLP councillor John McArdle said the incident was reminiscent to the dark days of the Troubles.

"I think it's an absolute disgrace. They want us to return to the 30 years during which we suffered in this area," he said.

"Whoever is carrying this out should be ashamed of themselves."

Traffic diversions have been set up at Kildare Street and Sugar Island in the city. News of the alert came at around 8am and Army bomb disposal experts were called to the scene at the junction of Lake Street and Antrim Road.

Traffic on roads surrounding the Old Soye's Mill part of the town was affected. There has been no indication of any paramilitary involvement. Construction workers at the Forest Glade Developments site were unable to go to work as traffic was diverted around the police cordon.

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