Police in Northern Ireland investigating a security alert that led to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney being evacuated from an event in Belfast have arrested two men.

Two suspected firearms were also seized and two vehicles removed for forensic examination.

Mr Coveney had to abandon a speech to the John and Pat Hume Foundation in north Belfast on 25 March.

A van had been hijacked at gunpoint nearby and a suspicious device placed inside.

The driver was then forced to leave it outside the Houben Centre on the Crumlin Road where the Minister for Foreign Affairs had been guest speaker.

The centre was evacuated and the device was later declared a hoax.

The PSNI blamed the loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force for the incident, which was linked to its opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Two men were today arrested by detectives from the PSNI's Terrorism Investigation Unit.

They are being questioned in the Serious Crime Suite at Musgrave Police Station in Belfast city centre.

A 46-year-old man was arrested a short distance away in the Shankill Road area of Belfast.

Two suspected firearms were found and a car taken away for examination.

A 51-year-old man was arrested 45km away in the town of Ballymena in Co Antrim and a van was taken away for examination.

Under the Terrorism Act, the men can be held for up to 48 hours, at which point they have to be released or charged, or police must go to court to ask a judge to grant more time for questioning.