I don’t know about you, but I’d have some issues with an alien being in my room… I’ve listened to enough Blink-182 that I know they exist. But in Northern Ireland, they’re dealing with not just the ongoing pandemic but a huge uptick in UFO sightings.
From mysterious discs over Slemish Mountain in County Antrim to strange images spotted on CCTV, unexplained sightings increased in Northern Ireland again last year.
Police received eight sightings in Northern Ireland during 2021, an increase from six such reports in 2020 and four in 2019.
These included a report of a spaceship and flashing lights in the Downpatrick area on 17 January.
In May police received two sightings reports, one of white lights after a helicopter in the Maghaberry area and an odd disc seen in the sky in the Slemish area of County Antrim at the end of the month.
In July there was a report of “strange images” on CCTV in a house in the Newtownabbey area and a dome-shaped object with eight lights in the sky reported in the Saintfield area.
In September a report was received in the Lisburn area of “aliens in bedroom”, while in October a detained patient reported having been abducted by aliens.
The final report of the year was of “unusual bright lights in the sky” in November.
UFO sighting reports on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) database include unidentified flying objects (UFOs); aerial phenomena; unidentified aerial phenomena; lights in the sky; and aliens and extraterrestrials.
A PSNI spokesperson said no investigations had been carried out in relation to these incidents.
Nick Pope, who used to investigate reports of UFO sightings for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), said it was possible that more people spending more time at home during the pandemic may account for a rise in reported sightings.
“It’s difficult to say what lies behind the small increase in sightings,” he said.
“Covid-19 and lockdowns may have played a role, with people having more time on their hands during the pandemic, and perhaps spotting things that previously may have gone unnoticed.
“Another possibility is that people are following the situation in the United States, where Congress is taking the issue seriously and the Pentagon has launched a new UFO initiative.
“This may make people more likely to report something unusual that they’ve seen because it sends the message that the authorities take the matter seriously.”
However, Pope said he believed the true number of sightings was much higher.
“Sadly, the numbers are still fairly low, and I suspect there’s chronic underreporting, perhaps because of the perceived stigma,” he said.
“That’s possibly a consequence of the Ministry of Defence’s decision to stop investigating UFOs at the end of 2009.
“If the MoD restart investigations and ask the public to report anything unusual, I’m sure they’ll receive lots of reports.”