Two arrested as police probe security alert in Belfast

Officers said a 41-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman had been arrested.

27 March 2022

Two people remain in custody as police investigate a security alert in Belfast which led to the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister being evacuated from a peace event.

On Sunday afternoon, police said a 41-year-old man had been arrested by police investigating the security alert on Friday.

The UVF is suspected of involvement in the incident which saw Simon Coveney being evacuated from an event organised by the John and Pat Hume Foundation in north Belfast.

The Houben Centre, on the Crumlin Road, was evacuated and a funeral service at nearby Holy Cross church was disrupted.

Houben Centre incident
Simon Coveney is ushered from the room at The Houben Centre (Hume Foundation/PA)

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.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said detectives from the Serious Crime Branch had arrested the man under the Terrorism Act and he was being questioned at Musgrave Serious Crime Suite.

A 38-year-old woman is also being questioned by police in relation to the incident.

On Sunday morning, the PSNI said the woman had been arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possessing criminal property and concealing criminal property.

A spokesperson said she was in custody assisting police with their inquiries.

It comes after the Serious Crime Branch carried out searches in the Ballysillan and Springmartin areas of north and west Belfast on Saturday evening.

A suspected firearm, two vehicles, a quantity of controlled drugs and a large sum of cash were seized.

Friday’s incident was condemned by politicians across the political spectrum.

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis described the actions as “reprehensible”.

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