A bomb exploded Monday near MI5 headquarters in Down as the devolution of justice and police issues to Northern Ireland officially began. A seond bomb was defused today.

The blast occurred when a hijacked taxi exploded just after midnight near Palace Barracks in Hollywood, a compound where many families of those who work at MI5 (the intelligence division of the British Army) live.

Some families were evacuated from their homes and moved to a local community center, but no serious injuries were reported.

Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, urged the people of Northern Ireland not to be derailed in their quest for a lasting peace.

"The important thing is to keep the political process in the driving seat," he told the BBC. "The vast majority of the people on the island of Ireland know where we are coming from."

Northern Secretary Shaun Woodward echoed these comments.

"Today Northern Ireland will complete devolution with the transfer of policing and justice powers.

"That democratic transition stands in stark contrast to the activity of a criminal few who will not accept the will of the majority of people of Northern Ireland. They have no support anywhere."

The issue of devolution had been at the core of what was the almost fallout of the Northern Ireland Assembly, but both sides of the political divide came together after marathon negotiations to work out an agreement that saved the Assembly and the peace process.

Local MP Naomi Long does not want to see a return to the dark days of violence.

"I would utterly condemn any such attack and am sure that the vast majority of people from across our community are sickened by the actions of people who seem intent on dragging Northern Ireland back into the past," said Long.

On Tuesday, the army defused a second car bomb outside another police station.

A car filled with containers of flammable liquid was left at the gates of Newtownhamilton station in Armagh around 2 a.m.. Police said about 60 homes were evacuated for more than 12 hours while the vehicle was examined, and police later confirmed it contained explosives.


 

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