Dissident republicans were being blamed yesterday for an explosion at a training college that hosted the graduation ceremony for the first recruits for the newly reformed Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Army bomb disposal experts were examining the suspicious object, at the back gate of Garnerville Training College in east Belfast, when it exploded at about midnight on Tuesday. No one was injured. About 100 people – some of them recruits – were evacuated from an accommodation block and some nearby homes.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan said: "It's an attack on all the young officers in there and all the people who have supported the police service and are trying to move this community forward," he said. "I think the people concerned in this community need to tell them to get off their backs."
Alex Attwood, the Social Democratic and Labour Party chairman and MLA for West Belfast, whose party joined the Police Board last year despite Sinn Fein's opposition to it, said the attack underlined the need for everyone in the community to remain vigilant.
"This is a terrible attack," Mr Attwood said. "This attack has been carried out by those who have no understanding as to where our politics and our community have moved."
Sinn Fein condemned it. Alex Maskey, West Belfast MLA, said: "I absolutely deplore their activity and we are totally opposed to them. These organisations, and there are loyalist organisations totally opposed to the [Good Friday] Agreement ... have no role to play and no vision for the future."Reuse content