Belfast Telegraph

Blasts won’t stop us creating peaceful and prosperous Derry

By Brendan McDaid and Donna Deeney

Civic leaders from across Londonderry have joined forces with the Belfast Telegraph to issue a stark message to dissident republicans that their campaign of terror will not succeed.

This paper today carries the unprecedented open letter to the dissidents signed off by the Chamber of Commerce in Derry, as well as retailers, trade unionists, civil rights activists, Church leaders, politicians and community workers.

In a defiant message, they warn that progress to strengthen the city’s economic footing and growing profile across the world will not be derailed by bombs.

The letter was issued following the double bombing on Thursday night, which saw dozens of elderly people left terrified when one of blasts went off just yards from their care home.

Numerous people had to be evacuated from across the city centre, and over 500 families and others going to the Millennium Forum were forced to abandon their cars overnight in Foyleside Shopping Centre’s car park.

The bombs at Strand Road and outside Derry’s tourist office on Foyle Street detonated shortly after coded warnings were given.

Traffic cordons remained in place at several areas into last night, with many residents still waiting to be given the go-ahead to return home.

The open letter states: “The latest bomb attacks on Derry demonstrate the contempt in which you hold each and every citizen of this city.”

It also states that the actions of the dissidents are a “clear attempt to reduce the chances of unemployed people in this city obtaining the jobs that they need to have a better quality of life”.

The chief executive of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Sinead McLaughlin, last night praised the swift action of police officers in evacuating residents. Ms McLaughlin said: “The chamber wants to credit the PSNI for its vital role in getting the city back up and running, with the loss of just half-a-day of disruption.

"Police officers have worked hard in very difficult circumstances, especially when they had to clear buildings in just half-an-hour.

"Officers deserve enormous credit in protecting the lives of people in Derry.”

Speaking at a Press conference in the city yesterday, local police commander Stephen Martin said he believed either the Real IRA or Oglaigh na hEireann left the two holdalls containing the explosives.

He stressed, however, that both organisations were “small in number” and had “very minimal strength”.

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