Northern Ireland

North Belfast security alert 'an elaborate hoax' say police

Antrim Road
Image caption Army bomb disposal officers were deployed to the scene on the Antrim Road

A security alert in north Belfast, that led to a number of families being moved from their homes overnight, was an "elaborate hoax", police have said.

It began shortly before 23:00 BST on Monday, when a suspicious object was found in the Antrim Road area.

The road was closed in both directions near the New Lodge and bomb disposal officers were deployed to the scene.

North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín, of Sinn Féin, said the alert had caused "great inconvenience to local people".

Residents who had to leave their homes during the security operation were given shelter by a nearby youth centre.

Speaking at the scene overnight, Ms Ní Chuilín said: "This alert is causing great distress to a number of senior citizens and families with young children.

"I want to thank the people running the youth centre for their willingness to help the people affected."

The security operation ended at about 03:00 BST and families were allowed to return to their homes.

PSNI Insp John Murray said: "Police would like to thank local residents for their patience during this policing operation."