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Simon Coveney condemns bomb hoax as ‘shameful echo of a darker time’

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has condemned the bomb hoax at an event he attended in Belfast as “a shameful echo of a darker time”.

A van driver was forced to drive a device, which he believed to be a bomb, to Holy Cross Church during the incident on March 25.

Commenting for the first time on the incident, Mr Coveney today warns that this type of action “advances the cause of no community.”

The event was held to commemorate John Hume – whom Mr Coveney pointed out had won a shared Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble.

Writing in the Irish Independent, Mr Coveney says: “I was there to speak about the profound legacy of John and Pat Hume as peacemakers and pioneers of reconciliation. This event was interrupted shortly after it began. A local electrician was hijacked at gunpoint by two men.”

The victim was forced to drive his van “with what he believed to be an explosive device” to a place where almost 100 people had gathered.

Warned by security, Mr Coveney abandoned the commemoration mid-speech.

Today he writes that the gathering was taking place beside Holy Cross Church where a family funeral was under way.

“As a result, an event about reconciliation was postponed, a man was traumatised, and a grieving family was left praying in a car park,” he says.

The hoax has been claimed by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol and a claimed border in the Irish Sea.

But Mr Coveney says the scare involved no defending of any principle.

“What I was there to say that day was that the Good Friday Agreement was achieved by all and belongs to us all,” he writes. “That has to mean not just tolerance, but genuine respect.”

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