A small explosion inside a rubbish bin in Lurgan, County Armagh on Saturday was the focus of an absurd British propaganda campaign at the weekend.
Republican dissidents have been blamed for the incident, which was observed by local residents and is believed to have shocked three local children.
However, PSNI claims that the three children were physically injured in the incident were subsequently denied, as as was an equally sensational and equally false claim that the device was a ‘no-warning bomb’.
It later emerged that the PSNI had been searching an area near the main Belfast to Dublin railway line following a telephoned warning.
The railway line is a routine target for dissident attack. For reasons which remain unclear, the PSNI failed to clear the area, deliberately endangering local civilians.
Three children who were near the device were whisked to hospital, with one of these were later subjected to front-page media interviews to recount her plight.
Details of the ‘no-warning bomb’ were subsequently deleted from feverish PSNI press statements, while compliant journalists were left to explain the children’s lack of injuries.
The event is the latest in a new PSNI/MI5 propaganda campaign which echoes the conflict at its height.
But the PSNI’s comparison of the incident with the 1998 Omagh bomb has left many northern nationalists shaking their heads in disgust.
Twelve years ago this week, twenty-nine people died in the town of Omagh when a bomb organised by embedded state agents and tracked by MI5 to its destination exploded in the centre of the County Tyrone market town.
Although blamed on the ‘Real IRA’, the bomb is widely believed to have been a bloody MI5 attempt to kill off support for republican breakaway groups. The PSNI was condemned by the then police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan for mounting a bogus investigation into the atrocity, while the British government continues to refuse its victims a public inquiry.
There are now fears that fresh efforts by MI5 to generate public outrage at a resurgent dissident campaign could place the lives of more civilians in danger.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has condemned those who planted the Lurgan explosion.
“Those who planted this device in the middle of this residential area obviously do not care who they hurt or kill and are void of any sense of social or political responsibility”, the party’s local Assembly member John O’Dowd said.
“The leaderships of the groups behind this senseless behaviour have to accept responsibility even if their membership is incapable of doing so. It is past the time for them to call an end to this pointless oppression of the nationalist community,” he said.