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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Man remains in custody as police investigate Belfast security alert

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The scene of Friday’s security alert (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

A man remains in custody as police investigate a security alert in Belfast that led to the Irish Foreign Minister being evacuated from a peace event.

On Sunday, police said a 41-year-old man had been arrested by police investigating Friday’s security alert.

The UVF is suspected of being involved in the incident where Simon Coveney was evacuated from an event organized by the John and Pat Hume Foundation in North Belfast.

The Houben Centre, on Crumlin Road, was evacuated and a funeral at the nearby Holy Cross Church was interrupted.

Simon Coveney is ushered from the Houben Center hall (Hume Foundation/PA) (PA Media)

Simon Coveney is ushered from the Houben Center hall (Hume Foundation/PA) (PA Media)

Police said the driver of a van was threatened by two armed men and forced to drive a device, which he believed to be a live bomb, into the church.

The Northern Ireland Police Service said detectives from the Serious Crimes Section had arrested the man under the Terrorism Act and that he was being questioned at the Musgrave Serious Crimes Suite.

A 38-year-old woman, arrested early Sunday morning, has been released on police bail.

The PSNI said she had been arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm under suspicious circumstances, possession and concealment of criminal property, and possession of a Class B controlled drug with the intent to supply.

The Serious Crime Section carried out searches of the Ballysillan and Springmartin areas of north and west Belfast on Saturday.

An alleged firearm, two vehicles, a quantity of controlled drugs and a large sum of cash were seized.

Friday’s incident was condemned by politicians from across the political spectrum.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis described it as “reprehensible”.

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