POLITICIANS across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland have condemned a 'sinister' security alert in which a hoax device wrapped in a Pride flag was left outside a councillor's home.
It was one of two similar devices found in the Hopefield Avenue area of Portrush, which the Alliance Party said targeted serving councillor Peter McCully and a former party councillor.
Meanwhile, a statement released on behalf of a number of LGBTQIA+ groups in the North condemned the 'cowardly attack'.
The PSNI, who are reportedly treating the incident as a hate crime, said that 'such attempts to intimidate and threaten are completely unacceptable'.
The suspicious objects, which were both wrapped in Pride flags, were discovered following a call to police on Thursday evening.
Homes were evacuated and a number of road closures put in place before controlled explosions were carried out on the devices.
The security alert ended at around 4.30pm on Friday and the hoax devices will now be forensically examined.
A statement from the Alliance Party condemned those responsible for the alerts, which recalled the Northern Ireland's 'troubled past'.
"Nobody should face this kind of threat when simply doing their job," read the statement.
"In addition, local residents have been left facing huge disruption due to the irresponsible actions of a few who represent nobody other than themselves.
"This has echoes of both the dark days of our troubled past and more recent times, when homes and offices of Alliance elected representatives were targeted for once again simply doing our job.
"The addition of a Pride flag adds an extra sinister edge.
"It is clear some are still not getting the message this reckless violence is not welcome in Northern Ireland.
"We urge anyone with information on these incidents to contact police with it immediately."
Gregory Campbell of the DUP said those responsible were bullies as he offered his support to Mr McCully, a councillor on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council representing Causeway.
"Those behind the targeting of Peter McCully do not represent people in Portrush," said the East Londonderry MP.
"This attempted intimidation must be condemned."
Sinn Féin's Caoimhe Archibald also hit out at those responsible, saying they had 'absolutely nothing to offer our society'.
"This is senseless behaviour that has served only to cause chaos for residents and demonstrates a total disregard for the community," said the East Derry MLA.
"Those responsible for these incidents have absolutely nothing to offer our society, it needs to stop now.
"I understand the police are now treating this incident as a hate crime.
"It is outrageous that anyone would be targeted in this manner because of their ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality."
A joint statement released by four groups — The Rainbow Project, Here NI, Cara-Friend and QueerSpace — expressed solidarity to those affected.
"The PSNI has confirmed the devices were wrapped in Pride flags," read the statement in part.
"This is a chilling reminder of the risk to LGBTQIA+ people.
"On behalf of our organisations, we utterly condemn these attacks and stand in solidarity with the public representatives and LGBTQIA+ people of Portrush and the area.
"It was a cowardly attack on our community, meant to cause fear and upset.
"We are, however, a close, resilient and supportive community."
Police have urged anyone with information about the alerts to contact them on 101, quoting incident number 1829 of June 29.