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Sunday 21 January 2018

Bomb 'had been in airport car park a year'

A bomb found in a car at Belfast International Airport had been there for almost a year, it was disclosed today.

Staff checking vehicles at the long-stay car park found a pipe bomb attached to cans of petrol. But it failed to detonate properly because of an apparent fault with the timing device.

It is believed the car, a Toyota Carina, had been there since last year and the bomb was meant to go off at the time the car was abandoned.

Scores of passengers on returning flights and unable to drive home had to be accommodated a nearby hotels on Saturday night because of the security alert.

The car carried a northern registration and police are trying to trace its history and to check records if there were any bomb warnings at the airport 18 miles from Belfast.

Politicians on all sides said they were shocked that a device could have gone undetected for so long, especially in such a public place where so many cars were parked.

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process were almost certainly involved and the fact that they were able to leave a device at one of the UK's busiest airports is bound to raise serious concerns about security measures.

Unlike the days when violence in the North was at its worst, cars are no longer stopped travelling to or leaving Aldergrove.

The permanent police checkpoint was dismantled in the aftermath of the signing of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

Q Park, the company in charge of the car park, said it was confident the car had not been there for a year, but senior staff at the airport are clearly irritated by the affair. A spokesman said: "Speculation as to the events surrounding this incident are unhelpful at this time."

Danny Kinahan, a South Antrim Ulster Unionist member of the Assembly and who lives just a few miles away, said the people who left the device were lunatics. The airport was phenomenally important for the Northern Ireland economy. The public had to be vigilant.

He said: "At a time of job losses and economic cuts, it is vital that everything is done to help business. We have an agreed way forward, but the those responsible for this have the support of nobody. There is no place for them. They need to be identified and put behind bars."

Press Association

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