Top police officer brands a security alert 'despicable' as officers dealt with M1 tragedy

Security alert in Lurgan
Security alert in Lurgan

A top PSNI officer has described as 'despicable' the security alert in Lurgan while police were supporting a bereaved family after a tragedy on the M1.

Police said 'masked cowards' approached NIR staff at Lake St in Lurgan yesterday morning 'making threats that there were multiple bombs placed on the line'.

On Wednesday evening, the PSNI had been dealing with the tragic death of Mr John Watts who died following a collision with a lorry on the M1 close to Lurgan.

Mr Watts, who was in his late 20s, died at the scene.

The motorway had been closed for several hours with traffic diverted through Lurgan on Wednesday evening.

Speaking on Twitter last night Chief Inspector Jon Burrows‏ said: "Whilst we were supporting a family bereaved in a tragedy on the M1 and serving the community throughout this area, violent dissidents caused disruption, delay to rail passengers and a needless diversion of our finite resources from the most vulnerable in our community. Despicable."

The PSNI took to Facebook to slam dissident republicans for the security alert describing them as 'remnants from a bygone era'.

In a statement police said: "We often use the term "security alert" without fully explaining what it means. We had another such incident on Lake Street in Lurgan.

"On this occasion, "security alert" meant this: masked cowards approached NIR staff making threats that there were multiple bombs placed on the line. Translink immediately took steps to safe guard passengers and closed the line. Not for the first time, it turned out that these threats were unfounded.

"Had we ignored them and they were real, lives would have been put in significant danger.

"As it was, checks were carried out and the line reopened with as little disruption to the community as we could manage.

"Inevitably however, this meant diverting resources from our day to day work. Over the weekend we made 32 arrests for serious assaults, drink drivers, domestic offenders and drugs suspects. We carried out foot patrols, speed checks and anti burglary patrols. Today, the actions of cowards limited that. Instead crews were forced to respond to ensure the safety of the community after thugs tried to bring a halt to both the community, and our day to day work in keeping you safe.

"There is no doubt that violent dissident republicans are responsible for this disruption. Yet again, thuggish tactics have been used to try and both intimidate local workers as well as bully the local community into time out of their work, their homes, and forced upheaval.

"It's time these remnants of a bygone era either left the stage for good or stepped forward and explained what exactly it is they're offering society. What possible cause can be served by keeping people from their days work and trying to force the evacuation of homes?

"We'd like to thank the community in north Lurgan for their patience and support during this incident, and we encourage anyone with any information about it to call 101, speak to the local community police,PM the page,or speak anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800555111."