Man charged over Belfast security alert which interrupted Coveney speech

Suspect accused over preparation of terrorist acts, hijacking and placing an article causing a bomb hoax

A man has been charged with a number of offences relating to a security alert in Belfast which led to the Minister for Foreign Affairs being removed from a peace event.

Simon Coveney was evacuated in the middle of a speech from an event organised by the John and Pat Hume Foundation in north Belfast last Friday.

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.

Detectives have charged a 40-year-old male with preparation of terrorist acts, hijacking and placing an article causing a bomb hoax.

He will appear at Laganside Magistrates’ Court in Belfast on Thursday.

A 48-year-old woman, who was also arrested as part of the investigation, has been released.

The PSNI Serious Crime Branch carried out searches in the Ballysillan and Springmartin areas of north and west Belfast at the weekend.

A suspected firearm, two vehicles, a quantity of controlled drugs and a large sum of cash were seized.

Friday’s incident was condemned by politicians across the political spectrum.–PA

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