Northern Ireland

Bomb under PSNI officer’s car at Belfast golf club 'intended to kill'

A Belfast golf club has been evacuated after a suspicious device was found under a car
Image caption Police are at the scene at Shandon Park Golf Club

A bomb found under a serving police officer's car at a Belfast golf club is being treated as attempted murder by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Police and Army bomb disposal experts were called to the scene at Shandon Park Golf Club on Saturday.

The club is located in east Belfast, near the PSNI headquarters.

The head of the Terrorism Investigation Unit, Det Supt Sean Wright, said the PSNI believed the attack was carried by "violent dissident republicans".

"It was clearly intended to kill the police officer," he said.

The bomb was examined by Ammunition Technical Officers and they declared it to be a "viable improvised explosive device".

"It is very fortunate that this device was detected before it exploded and that no one was killed or seriously injured," Mr Wright added.

"In placing such a device, terrorists have also put the officer's family, neighbours and members of the public at serious risk."

Image caption Police and Army bomb disposal experts are at the scene

The alert began on Saturday afternoon and the golf club was evacuated.

Club member Alan Paterson said the man who owned the car spotted the device after playing a round of golf on Saturday morning.

"He was leaving the course and he actually noticed something under the car and immediately informed the police and the members in the clubhouse at that time," Mr Paterson said.

"I was actually in the clubhouse at the time when the person came in to tell us that there was a possible device."

Image caption Alan Paterson was in the clubhouse when he heard there was a possible device

He added: "Within several minutes the police arrived and identified the object and said that they felt it was viable and that they should immediately evacuate the clubhouse and surrounding area, and also get everybody else off the golf course.

"We are delighted that if it was a viable device the person concerned was not injured or worse, so that is a big plus for everybody.

"We are a very mixed club. It is east Belfast, yes, but it is a mixed club and this sort of thing should not happen - it just should not happen."

Police also attended a further security alert in Strabane, County Tyrone, on Saturday afternoon.

A suspicious object caused a number of homes to be evacuated after it was discovered in the St Mary's Drive area of the town, close to the junction of Beechmount Avenue.

The police said the object was a hoax.


From the scene: BBC reporter Mark Simpson:

There was a sense of shock in this leafy part of east Belfast on Saturday.

Residents whose homes back on to the golf course car park were told by police to stay at the front of their homes.

The golf club was busy, with an estimated 70 people on the course at the time of the alert, and at least 50 in the clubhouse.

Saturday is the busiest day of the week at any golf club. It's likely that dozens of people walked past the device before it was discovered.


PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton condemned the attempted bombing as "despicable"

DUP East Belfast MLA and Policing Board member Joanne Bunting described the attack as "absolutely reckless".

"It's regrettable that there are still those who wish to take us back to the dark days of Northern Ireland. They are on a fruitless mission.

"The people of East Belfast will not be cowed by terrorists. We are a much stronger community than that," she said.

'Reckless'

"There is absolutely nothing patriotic about planting bombs under Irish police officers' cars," SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said.

"They claim they are in a fight with 'British Crown Forces'. They are not, they need to know and they need to be made to understand that their fight is with us. With all the people of this island who have endorsed peace," he added.

UUP MLA Andy Allen said: "The terrorist`s actions are not supported by the overwhelming majority of people across Northern Ireland who want to live their lives in peace.

"There is no justification for the actions of these reckless criminals who need to be taken off our streets."

Det Supt Sean Wright appealed for anyone with information about the bomb to contact detectives.

"Attacks on police officers are attacks on the entire community and they are an attack on our democracy. Anyone who places an explosive device under a car in a built up area cares little about our communities," he said.