Security alert disrupts festive celebrations

Toberhewney Hall. INLM0113-109gc
Toberhewney Hall. INLM0113-109gc

CHRISTMAS was disrupted for a number of Lurgan families who were out of their homes for three hours on Boxing Day due to a security alert.

The alert was prompted by the discovery of a viable device in the back garden of a house in Toberhewney Hall close to Lurgan Junior High School and Harrison Nursery.

The ‘MAIL’ understands the owner of the house found what turned out to be a pipe bomb in the back garden of their property.

It led to the evacuation of neighbouring properties and road closures.

One resident, who was forced out of his home during the alert, told the ‘MAIL’ how his family were affected.

The Lurgan man said: “The police called at about 3pm and said a suspicious package had been found in one of the neighbour’s houses.

“We were warned to stay out of the back of the house. They told us the bomb squad had been notified.”

He continued: “At around 4pm the police came back to the door to tell us the bomb squad had ordered an evacuation.

“They took our number and told us there was an evacuation centre set up in Waves for those with nowhere to go.”

The man and his teenage children went to a relative’s house as army technical officers dealt with the alert.

The ATO took what was described a viable device for further invesitgation and families were back in their homes shortly after 6pm.

The Toberhewney Hall resident commented: “We’d decided to have our Boxing Day dinner earlier in the day which was quite fortunate. Of course it’s worrying when you’re told that the army bomb experts are looking at a device very close to your home.

“Just after 6pm they phoned and said it was safe to return. My friends had asked me to go out on Boxing night but I couldn’t leave my kids. They were shaken up by it all.”

It has been suggested that the house was chosen by an unknown individual, or individuals, to hide the pipe bomb for retrieval at a later date.

DUP Assembly member Stephen Moutray, who was at the scene on Boxing Day, said: “It’s unbelievable that someone would put families at risk at any time never mind Christmas time.

“It’s very worrying for something like this to be found in a quiet, residential area.

“I’m glad emergency services were able to move in and make the area safe.

“I would appeal for anyone with information to speak to the police.”