Man charged with firearm offences after Coveney security alert

Simon Coveney ushered away Credit: PA Media

A 51-year-old man has been charged with firearms offences after being arrested by detectives investigating a security alert that led to an Irish Government minister being evacuated from a peace event.

He is charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances, possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of a handgun without a certificate, and possession of ammunition without a certificate.

He is due to appear before Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The man will appear in court on Monday Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney had to leave the peace event, organised by the John and Pat Hume Foundation, in north Belfast on March 25.

The Houben Centre in the Crumlin Road was evacuated and a funeral service at nearby Holy Cross Church was also disrupted.

Police said the driver of a van was threatened by two gunmen and forced to drive a device, which he believed to be a live bomb, to the church.

The item in the van turned out to be a hoax bomb.

The man who has been charged is one of two arrested by police on Wednesday.

Two firearms were also seized after operations in the Shankill area of Belfast and in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

The other man, well-known loyalist Winston Irvine, appeared in court on Saturday charged with firearm offences.

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