Saturday, March 14, 2009

And it continues to build

I am glad to see so much good news coming from my Ireland right before St. Patrick's Day.

From North Belfast News

Catholic Bar Targeted by Loyalist Pipebombers

A North Belfast bar owner said his staff are "lucky to be alive" after loyalists threw a pipe bomb into the Greencastle pub's beer garden this week.

The device was thrown over a fence into the grounds of the Fountain Bar as staff cleared up after closing time on Tuesday night. The pipe bomb, which did not explode, was thrown into the outside smoking area, adjacent to the bar.

The bar is primarily used by Catholics from the Whitewell Road and Bawnmore areas.

The Fountain Bar owner Paul Gillen said his staff were traumatised after the incident and believes it was intended to cause serious harm.

"They are very uneasy, they are simply working and providing a good service to the public and this is what happens," said Paul.

"We are all very anxious after this. I believe the bomb was left to do serious harm, it was only that they did not make it up properly. It was thrown right into the spot where customers have a smoke and was meant to do serious damage."

The bomb was found by the PSNI after the bar staff first discovered a suspicious package outside their doors as they locked up. After ringing the PSNI - who took almost an hour to arrive at the scene for fear it was an ambush - the first device was declared an elaborate hoax.

However after searching the scene they discovered the second bomb in the beer garden which was not a hoax but simply made incorrectly.

It is understood a phone warning was made to the PSNI just minutes before the bomb was discovered from a phone box in the Rathcoole Estate. CCTV images of a hooded male planting the devices was recovered on the bar's security cameras. He had travelled in a car with two other males and they are believed to have been tracked by CCTV to the same area. Mr Gillen said he is now stepping up security measures in the bar.

"I will be looking at other ways to make the place more secure and make sure the my staff are safe."

Sinn Fein councillor Tierna Cunningham condemned the incident and made an appeal for the community not to retaliate to the loyalist threat.

"First of all I want to offer my sympathies to the staff and owners of the bar who are understandably shaken up after this. The Fountain is an excellent bar with very responsible owners who do their best for the community," she said.

"I would appeal to our own community to keep calm and not react to this. We have to show leadership and not respond to it in anyway or the situation can only get worse."

Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them at Antrim Road station on 0845 600 8000.

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