Security has been tightened in north Belfast as Simon Coveney returned to finish a speech interrupted by a UVF bomb scam earlier this year.
Imon Coveney greeted those who returned to the Houben Center on Crumlin Road with the words “hello again” before lashing out at loyalist paramilitaries and picking up where he left off.
“For heaven’s sake,” said Mr. Coveney.
“In this day and age, we should look beyond paramilitarism and its role in society in Northern Ireland.”
He was speaking seven months after a van was hijacked in which an electrician was forced at gunpoint to transport equipment to the venue, which is on the grounds of Holy Cross Church.
The object was later declared to be a hoax, but the trauma inflicted on the innocent electrician and mourners at a nearby funeral was very real.
Mr Coveney had a defiant message for those responsible, telling them there was “no excuse or justification” for violence – particularly the kind that left a family grieving on the side of the road, “rather than in the sanctity of a church”.
Several people have been arrested since the attack and one man has been charged with preparing acts of terrorism, hijacking a van and causing a bomb scam.
A full search of the site was conducted at 6am and the car park was closed to the public to minimize the chance of another security alert.
After being greeted with applause, Mr Coveney warned those who exercise coercive control over others that they are only harming themselves by deterring much-needed investment and stifling votes.
“Their communities deserve a safe environment in which to raise their families, backed by effective policing,” he told them.
“Their actions undermine their safety, well-being and future.
“Look at the children in your community and ask yourself if you want them to be like you.”
The irony of the terror alert escaped none of those who bravely returned to the scene, including former Attorney General Claire Sugden.
That bright, sunny March day had left a dark cloud hanging over the communities on either side of the intersection.
In the end, those who wanted to create division and fear unknowingly managed to push people together.
Father Gary Donegan said the friendship with the Twaddell & Woodvale Residents’ Association, which provided sanctuary to those fleeing panic, continues to flourish and has never been better in the 21 years he has been there.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/for-gods-sake-we-should-be-beyond-having-to-call-out-paramilitarism-simon-coveney-returns-to-belfast-to-finish-speech-halted-by-bomb-hoax-42080778.html ‘For God’s sake we shouldn’t have to call out paramilitarism anymore’ – Simon Coveney returns to Belfast to finish his speech, which was stopped by a bomb scam