Drugs dealers among bomb hoax suspects

Dealers bent on disrupting

efforts to tackle the local drugs trade are among the suspects after a bomb alert delayed a public meeting in Banbridge last week.

If such was the case, they failed. That was the message to go out after Wednesday’s meeting of the Banbridge Policing and Community Safety Partnership was held up by the 30-minute bomb warning.

A police spokesperson confirmed they had received a report of a bomb left in Banbridge at 7.30pm on Wednesday night.

“Enquiries were carried out and the report was later deemed a hoax,” she said.

Ulster Unionist PCSP member, Councillor Glenn Barr, said he could only surmise that whoever was responsible was unhappy about the theme of the meeting.

“Questions were asked at the meeting and we can really only surmise but somebody, somewhere knows who is responsible,” he said.

Drugs misuse, locally and regionally, was on the agenda for the public meeting in Banbridge Bowling Pavilion, where an estimated 50-plus people had gathered.

Among them were community group representatives and individual members of the community, some of whose families had been directly affected by drugs misuse.

They were there for a discussion on drugs and alcohol, bringing in police, representatives of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Drug Addiction Northern Ireland, Banbridge-based charity REACT and former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland of the Independent Complaints Panel overseeing the responsible retailing of alcohol. The PCSP met privately ahead of the public meeting and it was as the open forum was about to get underway that police alerted members to the bomb threat.

“We were wondering why there were no police at the private meeting,” said the PCSP’s Councillor Paul Rankin. “Then, just before the public meeting five or six arrived and said there had been an anonymous phone call to Crimestoppers claiming a bomb had been left in the area and would go off in 30 minutes.

“Police took the details of everyone’s vehicles, including other people who were meeting separately in the hall, and everyone was kept there until the area had been checked for anything suspicious.

“It turned out to have been a hoax caller, but all they managed to do was delay the meeting for about 45 minutes; the meeting went ahead and it