Woman held and suspected gun seized by police probing Belfast security alert

The UVF is suspected to have been behind a security alert which saw Simon Coveney being evacuated from a peacebuilding event.

27 March 2022

A woman has been arrested and a suspected gun seized by police investigating a security alert that led to the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister being evacuated from an event in north Belfast.

The UVF is suspected of involvement in the incident on Friday which saw Simon Coveney being evacuated from the 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.

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.

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

On Sunday morning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said a 38-year-old woman had been arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possessing criminal property and concealing criminal property.

A PSNI 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 by police.

The incident was condemned by politicians across the political spectrum.

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

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