Pipe bomb at photographer's home
A pipe bomb has been discovered at the family home of a press photographer in Northern Ireland.
Mark Pearce from Mayobridge near Newry in Co Down has worked as a photographer for more than 20 years.
His family was woken by police shortly after midnight today at their home in Carraig Crosain. Six homes in their street were evacuated.
Army bomb disposal officers dealt with the viable bomb which had been left outside Mr Pearce’s front door. His two children were in the house at the time.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes at about 5.20am.
Police have appealed for information about the attack.
Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance Party and NUJ representatives have condemned the attack.
Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane said. "Apart from the fact that Mark Pierce’s [sic] family were put under extreme danger and stress from the device left at their front door, this attack was an affront to democracy.
“In any civilisied society a free press is paramount in maintaining democracy, and this attack needs to seen in that context. While people may not agree with sections of the media, there is no excuse to attack them or their families," she said.
“I would call on anyone with information to bring it forward to the PSNI so that the people who left this device can be brought before the courts.”
SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie said the perpetrators were intent on causing serious injury.
“Disruption was caused to that family and to local residents who returned to their properties earlier this morning. The thoughts and prayers of the entire community are with the family,” she said. “The message is clear to those who perpetrate these despicable acts - get off our backs and let us live in peace and harmony.”
Alliance Party assembly member Trevor Lunn said freedom of the press is paramount in any democratic society. “There should never be any attempt to silence the press through the use of violence. I would like to extend my support to Mark and his family,” he added.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet described the incident as a worrying development at a time of heightened tensions. She said: "The targeting of a journalist in this way is totally unacceptable and we are deeply concerned by this attempt to intimidate journalists.”
NUJ president Barry McCall and National Executive members Eamon McCann and Bob Miller also condemned the attack and sent support to Mr Pearce and his family.
In a joint statement, they said: “The pipe bomb incident is an attack on the freedom of the press in Northern Ireland and should be condemned by all those who want a peaceful and just society.
“The NUJ calls for those responsible to end this campaign of violence and stop threats to journalists immediately.”
Mr McCall said: "Coming after death threats against elected representatives, this is a direct threat to those who seek to report the news in Northern Ireland and must be condemned unequivocally. It is a reminder to journalists and media organisations that we have to be extra vigilant.”