The alert of an incoming intercountinental ballistic missile was wrongly sent on Sunday night by an emergency system worker. The false alarm sparked recriminations, with Louth County Council officials apologising and TDs calling for heads to roll.
It was a mistake by an employee at Ardee’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) who “pushed the wrong button” during regular procedures that occur during the change in shifts. The employee involved pressed the SEND button instead of the DO NOT SEND button.
Mobile phone users received the following message at 23.09 (around elevenish AMT): “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Ardee hey. Seek immediate shelter there now. This is no drill so it’s not.”
Initially many mobile phone users ignored the message, believing it to be yet another unsolicited text message from TD Peter Fitzpatrick.
The alert was corrected by email 18 minutes later but by that stage Ardee had already descended into chaos, the Ardee Hustler reports. There was a run on the pubs and witnesses saw and partook in frantic rutting against walls and on car bonnets.
Those with baths threw their kids into them, covering them with the mattress they had been sleeping on moments before. Those with only showers weren’t so lucky. Reports of kids being trun in ditches, down manhole covers and being told to stay hidden behind cows were all too common.
By the time a follow-up mobile text (advising citizens of the mistake) was received 38 minutes later, a new generation, the Ballistic Babies, had been conceived.
The alert system is in place because of the potential proximity of Ardee to bandit town Dundalk, which has been illegally developing and testing low to mid-range inter-countinental ballistic missiles since an escalation in tensions with its larger neighbour Drawda, in recent weeks.
Mid-Louth has also long warned of the dangers posed by rogue counties like Monaghan and Cavan, who have threatened to fire their own missiles, filled with lethal doses of Country & Western music, at the Pale in recent years.