Letter bomb addressed to Villiers made safe at Stormont Castle
Incident latest in spate of attempted attacks on leading figures and offices
A letter bomb addressed to Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has been discovered at the offices of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times
A viable explosive device addressed to Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has been discovered at Stormont Castle in Belfast.
Staff in the castle’s postal section raised the alarm early today and the package has been made safe and taken for forensic examination. No-one was hurt.
The castle holds the offices used by the First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. Mr Robinson moved to offices in nearby Parliament Buildings and Mr McGuinness is on leave following a trade mission to the US last week.
Ms Villiers is in London today for talks with Dr Richard Haass, the former US special envoy, who is conducting all-party discussions on flags, parading and legacy issues from the Troubles.
In a statement she said: “I utterly condemn the attempted attacks we’ve seen over recent days. If those responsible think that this kind of criminal activity will further any agenda, then they are completely mistaken”.
Mr Robinson said the attackers “have nothing to offer but misery”.
The discovery follows an attempted parcel bombing attack at the office of the Public Prosecution Service in Derry yesterday and the interception of another two devices addressed to PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott and his senior commander in Derry. These were detected at two separate sorting offices in Co Antrim.
Stormont justice minster David Ford, who visited to the sorting office at Mallusk, Co Antrim earlier today, paid tribute to postal workers.
“Royal Mail has been very active in putting in place security measures to detect and deal with suspicious packages, which in turn helps to secure and protect our citizens,” he said.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to personally thank some of the staff involved in dealing with our mail and carrying out those security checks.”
He added: “There is an obvious threat to these staff when reckless people abuse the mail system and I commend them for their vigilance.”
He denounced the latest incident, accusing the bombers of targeting civil servants and postal workers.
“Do those sending these devices really think their intended target will personally open the package?” he said. “Their actions are to be condemned by all right-thinking people.”