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Man arrested over Belfast security alert which interrupted Coveney speech

The Foreign Affairs Minister had to be evacuated from a peace event last month.

The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act.
The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act.
Image: Hume Foundation/PA

POLICE INVESTIGATING A security alert which led to Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney being evacuated from a peace event have carried out a search of a house in Belfast.

Officers have also arrested a 33-year-old man under the Terrorism Act over the incident.

A PSNI spokesman said detectives searched a residential property in the Forthriver area of north Belfast this morning.

Coveney had to leave the event organised by the John and Pat Hume Foundation in north Belfast on 25 March.

The Houben Centre in the Crumlin Road was evacuated and a funeral service at nearby Holy Cross Church was disrupted.

Police said the driver of a van was threatened by two gunmen and forced to drive a device, which he believed to be a live bomb, to the church.

Speaking in Dublin this week, Coveney said he really felt for the people in the room.

“It was part of an event that was all about reconciliation and healing and communities coming together,” he said.

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“There were unionists, there were nationalists. There were people from all different backgrounds and communities in Northern Ireland at that meeting.

“It was the Pat and John Hume Foundation, it was their first public in-person meeting as a foundation, and it was a real honour for me to be asked to speak, even though I didn’t get a chance to deliver the full speech.

“The speech was all about tolerance, recognition of difference, respect between communities for people who have different understandings of history and very different dreams and aspirations for the future of this island.

“So it was disappointing and sad for me that, for the first time in a very long time, an event like that had to be abruptly halted because of a very genuine and real security threat.”

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