Northern Ireland

M1 reopens after alert causes motorway mayhem

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Media captionThe M1 motorway was cordoned off since early morning

The M1 motorway has fully reopened following a security alert that caused major traffic disruption on Monday.

The motorway was closed for more than eight hours between the Lisburn/Saintfield turn-off and Stockman's Lane.

Army bomb officers examined a stolen vehicle on the Black's Road off-slip. Police said nothing untoward was found.

The police have defended their decision to close part of the road and apologised to motorists for disruption.

The M1 re-opened country-bound just before 10:30 BST and the rest of the motorway opened a short time later.

The vehicle at the centre of the alert has been taken away for further examination.

Apart from long delays at both ends of the closure during rush hour, the alert also caused severe tailbacks leaving the M1 at Moira as drivers took an alternative route via the A26 through Nutts Corner.

There was also a tailback of city-bound traffic back to Lurgan and country-bound to the Broadway roundabout.

The alert had a knock-on effect on traffic coming into Belfast on the Lisburn road, Andersonstown Road, the Hillhall Road, Upper Malone Road and Milltown Road.

Image caption The alert caused early morning traffic tailbacks at the Saintfield Road junction

Speaking from the M1 at about 07:00 BST, BBC Northern Ireland's Barra Best said the roads were busier than usual as hundreds of vehicles were being forced off the motorway due to the alert.

"Right in front of me buses, lorries, lots of cars having to make the diversion through Lisburn, instead of making their journey down through the motorway to Belfast," he said.

This was the latest in a series of alerts in the past week that have caused major travel disruption.

Traffic on part of the M1 was badly disrupted on Saturday following the discovery of a suspicious object.

Police later described the object as "an elaborate hoax".

A section of the motorway was also closed on Monday last week because of a security alert.

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