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Slieve Gullion Councillor, Declan Murphy, is to raise concerns with the PSNI at the way it has reported the suspicious device left at Camlough Lake earlier this week.

The area around Camlough lake had been sealed off for a number of days while British Army ATO’s dealt with this hoax. Cllr Murphy has condemned those involved in leaving the hoax device and for causing serious inconvenience to local people.

Speaking on the issue of the PSNI statement, the Councillor said "Local residents and I are extremely concerned as to how this incident was reported to the public by some elements within the PSNI. From the outset, terms such as 'viable device' were being fed to the media despite the fact that the object wasn't examined for over 24 hours.

The device at the side of Camlough Lake. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
The device at the side of Camlough Lake. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

"After it has been examined and cleared my colleague, Cllr Oonagh Magennis and I were told by the PSNI that the device did not contain any explosives, nor did it have a detonator.  It is very clear that this was a hoax and could not ‘cause serious harm’ to either people or property. ""

Cllr Murphy continued "The question I will be asking at the next Police Community Safety Partnership meeting is why the PSNI are now talking the incident up by stating the crude hoax device "could have caused serious harm. 

"This feeds into the security agenda and the well-worn practice of demonising our area and our communities.  It gives those who left the device exactly what they wanted, free publicity and an unwarranted status for their actions. 

"It also begs the question, ‘has the PSNI learned anything since it did its Review in the aftermath of the Chief Constable, Simon Byrne’s show of strength, on Christmas Day 2019?" has given the PSNI a chance to reply to the Councillors  question but we have not received a reply to date.

UPDATE 7.40pm

In a reply to our query the PSNI sent us the below comment.

 Chief Superintendent Andy Freeburn, South Area Commander said: “Police will continue to work closely with all political and community representatives to ensure the confidence and safety of the public is maintained, particularly during challenging incidents such as security alerts.

“We have today re-engaged with our local partners to ensure that our commentary is clear on this issue.”

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