Assembly evacuated after 'bomb' alert

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The Independent Online

One of Northern Ireland's most notorious killers forced the suspension of the Stormont Assembly today after claiming he had thrown a bomb into Parliament Buildings.

The Rev Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams were among dozens of politicians who were hurriedly evacuated from the building when Michael Stone - the loyalist who once opened fire on mourners at an IRA funeral, killing three people - tossed a package into the building.

Witnesses claimed the former Ulster Freedom Fighters prisoner barged his way through the revolving doors of Parliament Building, shouting "no surrender".

Security staff immediately reacted, grappling with him and eventually pinning him to the ground.

Witnesses also claimed the loyalist warned that he had a device with him.

The security alarm was pushed as Assembly members responded to the latest attempt to move Northern Ireland towards power sharing.

Cross-community Alliance Party leader David Ford's speech was interrupted by the alarm but he continued speaking until Assembly Speaker Eileen Bell ordered MLAs to evacuate the building after 40 minutes of the sitting.

Army bomb disposal experts finally arrived at Stormont to examine the suspect package.

Police taped off a huge area around the Stormont Parliament Buildings and ordered all politicians and civil servants to retreat well away.

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said in Dublin: "It seems that Michael Stone has gone on the rampage again, in a very dangerous way. But he was stopped.

"It just shows you exactly what we are trying to get away from in Northern Ireland."

Mr Ahern was visibly angry as he spoke to reporters during a visit to St Andrew's Resource Centre in central Dublin.

He added: "Michael Stone is well-known to us from previous incidents. This is all a good example why an Assembly would be a good idea."