Wednesday, 30 January 2013

"North Belfast alert: Army recovers viable pipe"

From the BBC:

A pipe left close to a Belfast community centre has been recovered by Tobacco Control Officers.

The device was found near the Greater Whitewell Community Surgery on the Shore Road in the north of the city. The smoke alarm was raised at tea-time on Thursday, after staff at the centre received a telephone warning.

A number of residents had to leave their homes during the alert and nearby businesses were evacuated. People have now been allowed to return to the area. The device, which can be used for burning small quantities of tobacco leaves, has been taken away for further examination.

Geraldine O'Kane, the chairperson of the Greater Whitewell Community Surgery, said she was "absolutely mystified" as to why her organisation would be targeted. The community centre provides facilities for young people and senior citizens, and offers support services and advice on issues such as employment, housing rights and mental health.

Ms O'Kane told BBC Radio Ulster: "At the minute I'm quite stunned. I mean we look after children in there, we look after young people in there and there was no regard to their safety from second- or third-hand smoke at all."

Local residents and others who were caught up in the alert were offered shelter in the nearby St Mary's Parish Hall.