Bombscare: public in danger as PSNI deploy cones and withdraw to safety

Covering a bomb scare in Newry, Good Morning Ulster’s Conor MacAuley reported what he found at the scene:


There are road closed signs up, there are cones, some signs and lights, but I can’t see any police presence at the moment”

“I have seen dozens of cars driving past this morning, some of them with small children in the back of their cars doing the school run.

People obviously don’t realise the potential danger they are in

[added emphasis above]

While the PSNI have criticised motorists it remains unclear if they have taken any further steps to ensure public safety.

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  • granni trixie

    Mark: I don’t know all the details but from what I know I am sure that one could make a case criticising PSNI operations in dealing with a bomb planted to lure them into danger.

    However, if this is the point you are making (and I’m honestly not sure if it is) it is misplaced. It is the people putting bombs around the place who ought to be the focus of criticism.

  • lamhdearg

    maybe the psni should take a leaf out of the I.D.Fs (israel) book and pulled a couple of kids out of a local school and made them look for the device.

  • Mark McGregor


    I’m just noting the PSNI can/will deal with bombscares as mainly threats to them and as in this case they decided to retreat to barracks, leave cones and let the civilians take the risks.

    As you say those that left the threat are mainly/totally to blame – they don’t give a shit though. The PSNI is meant to?

  • Pete Baker

    Well if, as seems to be the case here, it’s the PSNI’s assessment that it isn’t safe for them to remain on-site to secure the scene then there really is only one solution.

    Get the [British] Army to do it. It’s their bomb disposal teams dealing with any actual devices after all.

  • lamhdearg

    So close to the border let Eire’s army deal with it.

  • “Earlier, police warned motorists who had ignored or moved traffic cones close to the scene of the alert that they had a “blatant disregard” for people’s safety.” .. BBC report above

    “These signs and cordon cones are in place for the express purpose of keeping the public safe,” Chief Superintendent Robinson added.

    “I am amazed that motorists who remove or ignore these signs to continue down the road do not appear to be aware that in doing so, they show a blatant disregard for their own safety and that of their passengers.

    “If any road is closed by signage or by the presence of police – please follow the instructions.” .. UTV report

  • andnowwhat

    Anyone remember the bomb scare a while back in Newry when the fire brigade took charge?

  • joeCanuck

    Perhaps they should have a “DANGER _ UNEXPLODED BOMB” sign to put beside the road closed sign. Here we frequently have roads closed in the wintertime due to snow, poor visibility etc. Road closed signs are put up and there is a hefty fine if you are caught driving on a closed road.

  • sdelaneys

    Lamhdearg, “So close to the border let Eire’s army deal with it.”
    I like that, lets roll the border back that 7 or 8 miles and place a large part of sth Armagh in the republic.

  • sdelaneys

    “Anyone remember the bomb scare a while back in Newry when the fire brigade took charge?”

    Newtownhamilton in sth Armagh, about 13 miles west of Newry.

  • 6crealist

    “Get the [British] Army to do it. It’s their bomb disposal teams dealing with any actual devices after all.”

    That would play right into the “dissidents'” hands.

    I understand the PSNI’s caution given what happened in north Belfast a few weeks ago – and this is a very difficult one to call – but clearly they could have done a much better job in clearing the area.

  • lamhdearg

    Why not, also blow up the bridges in derry and let eire look after that bit too,(and make a united Ireland 200 years off) Or maybe we should stop looking for faults in the psni and start supporting them, But why not include the garda or the Irish army in close to border opps ?.

  • sdelaneys

    lamhdearg”… Or maybe we should stop looking for faults in the psni and start supporting them,…”

    We don’t have much looking to do when they leave a suspect van with no warning signs that a bomb may be on board. To me that is negligence of a high degree and close to criminal. Would any other police force in a modern country place cones around a possible bomb and then piss of back to barracks leaving the public unaware of the dangers?

  • lamhdearg

    When i see a road closed sign, i do not drive down that road, maybe you do otherwise.

  • Reader

    Mark McGregor: leave cones and let the civilians take the risks.
    Only those who chose to put themselves (and apparently their children too, in some cases) at risk.
    So, as well as calling in the dissers’ PR department, and the bomb squad, next call goes out for social services.

  • andnowwhat

    Sounds like a job for the Big Society.

    Get the unemployed to stand around the bombs with high visibility jackets on and those big false hands made of foam with the pointing finger. If the worst happens, that’s a couple of the dole.

  • Alf

    “Would any other police force in a modern country place cones around a possible bomb and then piss of back to barracks leaving the public unaware of the dangers?”

    Any other police force in the civilised world would be able to call on military support without a significant section of the community shiteing itself.

  • sdelaneys

    When somebody else has moved the road sign you won’t know that your psni put it there in the first place before scurrying off. Admit it, it was a disgraceful piece of policing and showed a disregard for the safety of the public only outdone by whoever left the van in the first place.

    alf, surely it was the psni who were ‘shiteing themselves’, not the local people.

  • Alf


    You would be happy enough to see the PSNI receive military protection from the terrorists who are trying to murder them then?

  • Driftwood

    ‘Suspect devices’ are a matter for the Army Felix team. But the Police are supposed to secure the area for public safety. This is a really poor PSNI response. They then shut the main road corridor but left the public to negotiate a suspect van with some cones?
    And were ‘cross’ because some motorists shifted them?
    Someone should be getting a major bollocking over a pathetic management of a possible tragedy.

  • Alf

    Can I just add. It was nationalists and republicans who demanded the removal of soldiers from our streets. They also demanded the ‘demilitarisation’ of the police on the grounds that ‘the war’ was over. They wanted a police ‘service’ rather than a police ‘force’.

    The current police is top heavy with recruits who are not trained to deal with terrorists. They are soft targets for murder. In the Newry case a Company of soldiers would have been deployed to cordon off and clear that scene. The PSNI no longer have that facility due to the whining of nationalist/republican politicians. Neither do they have the manpower or training to deal with it themselves safely. Therefore it appears they have tried to do the best they can with the resources they have.

    The delightful people of south Armagh have of course ignored their efforts and removed their cones and diversion signs thereby putting their own people at risk.

    If you want to criticise the PSNI then you need to decide what it is that you want. The military on the streets, militarised police officers, or the current pretendy stuff which is designed precisely to appease the punters who are currently complaining?

  • Those who removed some (or all) of the signs put not just local people in danger but also visitors to the area.

  • Dec
  • ranger1640

    The issue here is the chief constable was hired to be softly softly touchy feely with the republican/nationalist community. However now when it comes to tough policing against ongoing republican terrorists the guy is out of his depth.

  • Miss Fitz

    When you’ve been stuck in traffic for 3 hours, you can lose your perspective. I would lovebto hang, draw and quarter the buggers with the bomb

  • Rory Carr

    This, if true, is what Prince Charles might call “simply appalling”.

    PSNI = Pisspoor Safety for Northern Ireland.

  • sdelaneys

    A van which was presumed to contain a bomb was found at the roadside. The PSNI put up a road closed sign and a few cones before pissing off. Along come people trying to get to work, they see road signs but no sign of any work going and, being able to see a wide open road all the way ahead, think, ah, the work hasn’t started yet so we can get through here, and off they merrily go after moving a cone or two because this wonderful new police force of ours hadn’t the wit to tell them what was happening or the courage to place a vehicle or two somewhere close by to secure the road. Pathetic.
    PSNI. Pisspoor scarcity of normal initiative.

  • Alf


    You would prefer RUC professionalism and a company of Royal Irish cordon troops then?

  • sdelaneys, surely our educational system is not so bad that folks can’t read road warning signs or leave them in place.

  • Alias

    It isn’t necessary to have a pro or anti stance on the PSNI to recognise that using traffic cones to exclude the public from a substantial danger to them and failing to supervise the exclusion zone is a very poor management of the risk. Company directors can be prosecuted under criminal law for failing to take adequate precautions to protect the safety of the public from risk, so perhaps a similar policy should apply when the public is exposed to danger resulting from poor risk management by the police. If you left a live wire in a workplace with merely a safety sign to warn of the danger, you’d fall foul of health and safety law. Leaving what is potentially and explosive device in that condition criminally stupid.

  • Kevin Barry

    Alias, a good point well made.

    Have some kind of presence nearby to warn ordinary people that something particularly dangerous is nearby.

    Alf, I await your abuse about my name or name sake or trying to tie my position loosely with my name sake as opposed to you answering a point bout the PSNI not being near a suspected bomb and letting the public pass by it. A pint at the next Slugger awards for the 1st person to guess which he goes for re trolling

  • Mark

    Alf ,

    How can you use RUC and professionalism in the same sentence ?

    Do you really think the British army would put the lives of South Armagh locals before their own ?

    Weren’t they caught falsifying car number plates at roadblocks while sitting inside the checkpoints ( a number of times )

    Re the news report – whats that Yank going to tell his pals back home about his holiday in the North – Jeez buddy , nearly got blown to pieces just driving my rental down the freeway , the cops leave van bombs by the side of the road , some reporter guy told me , son of a bitch , that place is crazy ! I ain’t ever goin back .

    Alf , i take you’re point about the recruits being inexperienced etc but surely some senior middle managment should have taken charge .

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    basically 3 options:

    – erect a few cones and hope that is sufficient to keep traffic out of the area

    – police the road blocks with a few cops. Risk nearby booby trap bombs, sniper fire or direct attack. remember this is very near the border so presumably they can just skip over and get away.

    – flood the area with cops/army/choppers. Still a high risk of booby trap devices.

    Overall, a very difficult situation to police. I guess the best thing would be to set-up semi-permanent road blocks that cannot be moved so easily by the public.

    I still wonder what this tossers are trying to achieve – they’ve somehow managed to piss off the majority of the GAA, half of south down and a fair few down south as well.

  • aquifer

    It is not in the public interest that police officers are seen to be killed by sectarian separatists, as the media tend to give a lot of coverage to bloody murder, exaggerating the effect of these gun gangs, The PSNI are quite right to keep out of harms way when faced with a calculated attempt to kill them.

    The separatist campaign would lead to more civilian deaths sooner or later. The sooner they happen, the sooner their sad little campaign ends, sorry.

    They are to blame for setting bombs in public places, nobody else.

  • Cynic2

    I think that with his commitment to the community and evident concern Mark should volunteer to stand by the signs in Police Uniform and direct the traffic away

  • anne warren

    Have Slugger readers and posters seen this report in the Belfast Telegraph?

    Van on Newry motorway contained 500lb bomb

    I don’t want to think of what could have happened.

    I realise many of the above comments were made without full knowledge of the facts and many were the fruit of atavistic preconceptions.

    Given the general consensus in the UK and ROI of “never again will we return to the past” I suggest everyone acts and speaks with due regard, bearing in mind the principle of “parity of esteem”

  • grandimarkey

    There were riots in the Derrybeg area of Newry last night, nothing has appeared on the news however. Several cars were burnt out and used to block of entrances to the estate.

    I’ve heard, albeit from a second hand source, that armed men were seen in the estate also, however I couldn’t confirm it. My friends mother is from the area and she relayed the information on. If it’s true, it’s rather worrying.

  • grandimarkey



    “It is not in the public interest that police officers are seen to be killed by sectarian separatists”

    Considering that their victims are in the most part Catholics, is that an accurate description?

  • Zachariah Tiffins Foot

    So many armchair police commanders available on Slugger the PSNI should sack the Chief Constable and have a cabal of Sluggerites run policing.

    I despair of the PSNI at times as it has been emasculated by (Nationalist) political pressure however to swerve around the terrorists who are responsible for the bomb to have a kick at the police is pretty despicable

    There must be little doubt that police suspected an attack on their cordon and decided to withdraw. After all we are talking about ‘Sniper at Work’ territory here. The PSNI has few street-smarts as a counterterrorist force but keeping the prime targets (police officers) out of harms way is Lesson 1.

    “Sectarian separatists” is a pretty good description of the current Irish
    Republican murder gang. They specifically target Catholic police
    officers because they are both Catholic and police officers.

  • Kevin Barry


    ‘So many armchair police commanders available on Slugger’

    Including yourself?

  • Alias

    Some syscophants of the PSNI are conflating two different issues: those who placed the public in harm, and those who failed in their duty to protect the public from that harm.

  • andnowwhat

    I; reminded of the old news footage from NI where people used to stand for ages insanely close to suspect devices. Did Joe Public then have more balls than the police of today?

    Our police are well tooled up. The idea that they need soldiers to back them up is a non starter. As I have said before, is the problemt who they are recruiting and policing policy (Is it apt for our situation?)?

  • sdelaneys

    re Derrybeg, one of my family was coming from Newry at 11. 30 last night and there was a bonfire of cones on the roundabout beside the Egyptian Arch (beside Derrybeg). There is no word of any of that on the news.The same person was stopped twice at different psni checkpoints in less than two miles of road going into Newry, not on the road where the bomb, was, naturally, as the psni wouldn’t want to be on that road and prefer to leave cones to ‘safeguard’ the travelling public while they stop and ask for details of those on different roads altogether.

  • grandimarkey

    It did seem to erupt from no where. I don’t think anyone was expecting it. There had been trouble in December in that area if memory serves me right but not on that scale.

    I think that since it was a Friday night in an area where many teenagers and various youth regularly drink on the streets, or beside the estate in the playing fields, must be kept in mind.

    Generally I get the sense from the people of Newry though that no one is supportive of this. Many put it down to unruly teens. However it is more than probable that they were influenced by dissidents in the estate.

    Talk of armed men (albeit unconfirmed) in the area is alarming. There are estates like Derrybeg in Nationalist areas all over the North where these kind of actions could be replicated…

  • lamhdearg

    I would like to thank the psni for stopping this bomb from reaching one of Our towns and maybe killing on an Omagh scale. On derrybeg, was the trouble created to cover the escape of the people who left the bomb, our do the bomders live in Newry?. On newry well done St Colmans, a good news story.

  • aquifer

    I must be too old.

    Any ‘armed men’ I ever met were generally delinquent young males who turned into whining social work cases once they lost their wee pistols.

    Sorry. That should read ‘turned back into’

    ‘those who failed in their duty to protect the public from that harm.’


    My guess is that some petrolheaded twat moved the traffic cones out of the way. Blame Clarkson.

    We need more efficient public services. Let MI5 advertise for more informers and lets get these idiots scooped off the streets.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Well, there are two possibilities here. Either the bomb was extremely dangerous, in which case the police do not appear to have implemented a proper lockdown. Or the bomb was not a serious danger, in which case the police may be guilty of overstating its effects.

    And we all know that motorists are stupid and take risks all the time – that’s why law enforcement on the road is necessary in the first place – so it’s not sufficient for the police to blame this. A simple “road closed” sign with red traffic cones implies some sort of temporary condition on the road. Irresponsible to bypass it but nonetheless not necessarily life-threatening. On the other hand, a blue “Police – road closed” sign with police traffic cones (it is an offense to remove these IIRC) and police tape across the road would surely have been more appropriate. People are much less likely to ignore these.

    I don’t think it is helpful to gloss over what appears to be a failing on the part of the police.

  • aquifer

    Come to think of it. Why didn’t Cono McCauleyof the BBC put the traffic cones back instead of whining about it? Those mothers on the school run pay their TV license don’t they?

  • Dixie Elliott

    I was just thinking as I watched it that the news crew were filming cars, buses etc passing the van ,then they stopped and told them they had just passed a bomb.

    Would it not have been better to stop the vehicles before they passed the bomb and told them. Then again that wouldn’t have looked as good on TV.

    Perhaps that’s what the American guy was thinking when he couldn’t speak for a while? ‘You fecking asshole, you let me pass a bomb and then ask me what I think.’

  • lamhdearg

    Did the bombers walk home from the van?, to where did they go, was the van caught on cctv as it crossed the border(if it crossed the border) all these Q, but no lets Q the psni.

  • Kevin Barry

    Lamhderg, are you actually implying that we should not question anything the PSNI does?

    We’re not implying that the guys who created the bomb and placed it there should not be questioned, tried and brought to justice, but it does seem a dereliction in duty by the PSNI to merely put up a few road signs to secure what is an incredibly dangerous device.

    We live in a democracy (no really, we do) and when some body or agency of the government screws up or we think they have we should question this.

  • lamhdearg

    kevin barry
    no. but put the blame where it belongs first and foremost, not as an after thought

  • Kevin Barry

    Thanks Lamhderg.

    The blame is with those who placed the device there, no question of that. With that out of the way, are you now happy for me to raise the point that the PSNI should have done more in this instance? Do I and others criticizing the PSNI need to place some kind of caveat at the beginning so as to clarify to you and others that I want the people who did this brought to justice before I criticize the PSNI?

    Look to what Comrade Stalin has said on this whole matter, balanced and fair.

    Once the police had been made aware that a bomb was there greater care should have been taken to secure the area and make sure that the general public did not get anywhere near the vicinity. A simple sign is not good enough. That’s the whole point of this thread.

  • Comrade Stalin

    no. but put the blame where it belongs first and foremost, not as an after thought

    Nobody is trying to excuse the people who left the bomb there.

    As I said, it doesn’t help anybody to take the focus away from the occasions where the police do a sloppy job. This is a matter for the Ombudsman.

  • Brian

    I wonder where these cowards planned on placing the bomb in the first place??

    Thank god no one was hurt, and I hope PSNI learns from this.

    Hopefully some useful evidence was recovered as well.

  • Brian

    Even if the PSNI is completely defanged…it doesn’t mean they should just have a left a cone there and left for a period of time. Just leave one cop car to make sure ppl don’t do what they did and ignore the cones.

  • Mac

    God help us if the dissidents abandon a car bomb anywhere between Laverys and half of south Belfast on a school night.

  • aquifer

    To place the cones on the big new road the cops could have been exposed to sniper fire from a distance with no chance to shoot back. Fair play to them for putting the cones out in the first place. I would have been crapping myself.

    The lesson is don’t move police cones.

    Especially as they may be boobytrapped.

    OK that gives every lilywhite separatist volunteer a license to dick everybody around by moving traffic cones themselves, but think of it as traffic calming.

    Oh and have the revolutionary masses in the nationalist housing estates risen up yet at this sign of dedicated resistance to British administration and completion of necessary road journeys?

    No need to answer.

  • Alf

    “How can you use RUC and professionalism in the same sentence ?”


    Well they managed to defeat PIRA.

    “Do you really think the British army would put the lives of South Armagh locals before their own ?”

    Ranger Cyril Smith certainly did. He gave his life rescuing a south Armagh local from the human bomb he had been forced to transport to the Cloghogue PVCP. He received a postumous Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his heroism. It stood in stark contrast to the gutlessness of the scum who murdered him.

    “Alf , i take you’re point about the recruits being inexperienced etc but surely some senior middle managment should have taken charge .”

    You mean ex RUC professionals?

  • Mark

    Turn over to BBC2 or Sky Sports and lighten up for one night Alf …