Monday, December 16, 2013

Dean begins Black Santa sit-out Dean of Belfast's St Anne's Cathedral has begun a Black Santa charity sit-out near the site of Friday's bomb blast.

The Rev John Mann is collecting money for Philippines typhoon disaster relief as well as local charities.

A small explosive was left in a sports bag on a pavement close to the Cathedral. It caused no injuries but major disruption on one of the busiest nights of the year for Christmas parties.

Mr Mann said: " As we begin the Black Santa sit-out again this year, we are very conscious of needing to support local charities as we always do - but we are also very aware of the situation in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world." 

The device detonated as police were clearing the area and was some distance from where a warning had originally placed it. 

Officers, acting on misleading information provided in a telephone bomb warning to a Belfast newspaper, had been evacuating people from a hotel 150 metres away from where the bag containing the bomb had been placed. 

Some revellers had just begun their main courses as they were forced to flee - one man clearing his plate while he stood on the street outside. 

Business owners and political leaders have condemned an attack which was claimed by dissident republicans. 

Mr Mann said he was profoundly saddened at the attempt to disrupt and endanger the people of Belfast. 

"We will continue to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace and to continue to ask people to pray, be vigilant and to work together for peace," he added.

This is his third Black Santa Christmas sit-out for charity and the 37th in a tradition started in 1976 by Dean Sammy Crooks.

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