There has been condemnation across the political spectrum in Belfast, as police in Northern Ireland are still investigating a security alert that was raised at the cross-community playing pitches in the Church Road area of Castlereagh, which is used by the GAA club East Belfast GAA.
The alert was raised on Monday evening, with roads in the area, pitches and a school being closed immediately, amidst the search for a threat.
Although the road closures have now been lifted, the pitches still remain closed. Police say the security alert is still active and have asked members of the public to continue to stay away from the area. Lough View Integrated Primary School and Nursery, said it will be closed on Tuesday because of the operation.
In a statement released by the club, East Belfast GAA says they are ''disheartened to hear about the recent security alert at Henry Jones Playing Fields.''
— East Belfast GAA (@EastBelfastGAA) May 22, 2023
The club which was set up in the summer of 2020, is the fastest-growing sports club in the city. Belfast East GAA is located in a historically Unionist area. Since the club's opening, they have tried to promote unity across the political divide present in the area.
This however is not the first security alert the club has faced. In 202o just a few months after they had opened police were called to the grounds over reports of planted explosives in the area.
This threat comes only two months after Belfast City Council announced plans to facilitate a full-sized GAA pitch on the grounds. This was significant as it would be the first council-owned GAA pitch in East Belfast.
Cllr. Séamas de Faoite released a statement today condemning the actions of those responsible, and stated that the community will not be intimidated by these threats.
''There is work going on in East Belfast with the local political parties to secure good-quality pitches across the sporting codes. It won’t end because of threats or intimidation. East Belfast GAA threatens no one. If a future British King can pick up a hurl, anyone can.''
There is work going on in East Belfast with the local political parties to secure good quality pitches across the sporting codes. It won’t end because of threats or intimidation.
East Belfast GAA threatens no-one. If a future British King can pick up a hurl, anyone can. https://t.co/P69T94viZD pic.twitter.com/Q1PYeIa3Sg
— Cllr. Séamas de Faoite (@SeamasBelfast) May 22, 2023
Deirdre Hargey MLA, Minister for Communities in South Belfast and member of Sinn Fein said this about the indecent.
School children disrupted, young people playing sports disrupted, local residents disrupted. A reprehensible act against the whole community.''
School children disrupted, young people playing sports disrupted, local residents disrupted. A reprehensible act against the whole community. https://t.co/JSd6aqm0U6
— Deirdre Hargey (@DeirdreHargey) May 23, 2023