Bomb planted outside theatre
Bomb planted outside theatre

Dissident republicans have been blamed for leaving a bomb in a car parked outside a theatre in Lisburn, County Antrim last night.

More than 350 members of the cast and audience at a performance of a musical at the Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre were forced to flee when a warning of a device was made last night.

British army bomb disposal experts worked on the suspect vehicle for several hours before returning today to complete defusing the device. The PSNI police described the bomb as “viable”. No claim of responsibility has been made.

A local theatre group was halfway through a performance of Carousel when the evacuation was ordered last night.

Roy McIlwrath, of Lisnagarvey Operatic Society, which was putting on the show, said: “It was a bitterly cold night and the cast had to go outside in costume.

“Some of them were out in their bare feet, with very little on but the costumes they were wearing, it became a priority to look after them.”

It is thought the bomb was timed to coincide with the run-up to the British general election on May 5 and follows an appeal by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams for the Provisional IRA to stand down in favour of strictly political activity.

Meanwhile, a west Belfast clergyman has said unionist paramilitaries carried out a petrol bomb attack on his home yesterday morning.

Pastor Jack McKee was asleep at his Ballysillan home when his car and house were attacked by three men with petrol and paint bombs shortly after 3am.

The Protestant clergyman believes the attack was designed to force him to close a church-based taxi firm which he opened on the Shankill Road two weeks ago.

Mr McKee said the attack was linked to a turf war involving the unionist paramilitary UVF and the false impression that former leader Jackie Mahood was connected with the Pastor’s taxi firm.

Meanwhile, the leader of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party has called on the media to become more active in the case of murder victim Lisa Dorrian.

David Ervine said it was clear the rival LVF was responsible for the murder and that the group’s involvement is “petrifying” witnesses.

“It is shocking that a young woman is brutally murdered and disappeared yet people aren’t asking about it day after day,” he said.

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