A woman has spoken of her anger and pain after her mother’s funeral service was interrupted by yesterday’s security alert.
Heila McDonald said her family was devastated by the disruption of mass for her late mother, Bridie.
Her 14-year-old niece, who has special needs, was particularly upset that she couldn’t come to church, she said.
“[We were] tried to explain to her why we couldn’t come to the chapel because stupid men had left a dangerous object in the chapel,” Ms McDonald told the BBC.
She said special songs were chosen for the service that they couldn’t hear, adding: “Your grandchildren had to say prayers, so that was another moment that was taken away.
“It ruined the whole day. Because you’re angry and hurt, how dare anyone do that?
“That shouldn’t have happened today.
“I was supposed to bury my mother today and those idiots took away this very special moment from us.”
Simon Coveney spoke about the importance of reconciliation in Northern Ireland at an event in North Belfast organized by the John and Pat Hume Foundation.
He had told the audience, “The patient work of reconciliation and deepening of ties must continue on our own island.”
But just a few minutes after the speech began, he was interrupted and taken away by security officials.
Former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, who was present as trustee of the John and Pat Hume Foundation, said those responsible were “faceless, nameless and mindless”. He said: “I was born and raised in this city and I’m proud to say that. I look at what happened this morning with equal parts anger and disgust.
“If you want to protect the Union, you should be aware that denying free speech to a democratically elected minister from a neighboring state feeds directly into the Irish Republican narrative.
“Today was an own goal by faceless, nameless and frankly mindless individuals.”
Tim Attwood, who moderated the discussion, said it was “very unfortunate that the event was canceled and more importantly the disruption to the local community”.
He added: “The message from the Secretary in the short time he has spoken and from the John and Pat Hume Foundation is that only through peaceful and non-violent means can you achieve your goals.
“Those who think they can take us back to those dark days are greatly mistaken, they are long gone and this will only renew our efforts towards peace and reconciliation and our work will continue.”
Professor Colin Harvey, who was present at the event, said: “This has to stop, those responsible have to recognize and respect the fact that people in this society want peace.
“Dialogue, debate and discussion remain the only way forward.”
Local priest Father Gary Donegan also spoke at the event and told Radio Ulster that Mr Coveney was about five minutes into the speech when it was interrupted.
“I saw the close protection team waving at me and I wondered what they’re asking me to do?
“They turned around and told me that someone had been kidnapped at gunpoint and had driven a van into the ground with an alleged device and we had to get the minister out of there and evacuate the place.
“So we had to get the minister away immediately.”
Archbishop of the Church of Ireland Rev. John McDowell described the incident as shameful.
“Peace and stability in Northern Ireland are maintained and promoted by good relations at all levels within Ireland and across these islands and there is no place for violence or the threat of violence in our society,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/how-dare-anyone-do-this-grieving-woman-hits-out-as-bomb-hoax-destroyed-mothers-funeral-41489842.html ‘How dare anyone do that?’ – Mourning woman lashes out as hoax bomb ‘destroyed’ mum’s funeral.