Belfast Telegraph

Bust-up as councillors branded hypocrites for condemning bomb bids

By Leona O'Neill

A furious row erupted after a councillor refused to back a letter of support to families targeted by bombs this week, telling colleagues that "no one's hands were clean when it came to supporting violence".

An under-car booby-trap exploded outside the home of a police officer in Londonderry on Wednesday as Army ammunition technical officers were dealing with it, and a second was discovered in the garden of a former District Policing Partnership member in Sion Mills on the same day.

Both attacks are being blamed on dissident republicans.

A motion was brought before Derry City and Strabane District Council on Thursday night by the SDLP's Angela Dobbins to write a letter of support to the targeted families.

However, four independent councillors - Gary Donnelly, Paul Gallagher, Darren O'Reilly and Warren Robinson - abstained.

Mr Donnelly addressed the chamber, hitting out at what he claimed were double standards.

"Condemnation does not achieve anything," he said. "It is very selective condemnation.

"There have been a number of pipe bomb attacks in loyalist areas and there hasn't been so much as a word about it in this chamber. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

"Sinn Fein are hypocrites. They have elected members who have taken part in armed actions in the past. They have commemorations for IRA volunteers who have given their lives while carrying out actions of violence against British police. To me it smacks of hypocrisy.

"The DUP are mouthpieces for British Army murderers. The British Army have invaded countries, bombed villages and towns in the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan and the DUP have openly praised the actions of that Army. That is supporting violence.

"Not one single elected representative in this council chamber could say that their hands are clean. None of their hands are clean in regards to their support of violence."

As a chorus of councillors shouted "shame", the DUP's Drew Thompson tried to interrupt, but was shouted down by Mr Donnelly.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Thompson said he was angry about what happened and would be seeking legal advice with a view to pursuing the matter.

"I feel very insulted by councillor Donnelly's comments that everyone in the chamber's hands are dirty," he said.

"It is a very serious allegation to make and I will be consulting with my party officers as to how we move that forward. If councillor Donnelly claims to have evidence that people have created problems, then he needs to pass that evidence on to the security services."

The proposal to send the letter was backed by all councillors from the main nationalist and unionist parties, with the four independents abstaining.

On Thursday the PSNI confirmed that the device found outside the police officer's house was an under-car bomb.

It said the device, discovered at the property in Ardanlee the day before, was "designed to kill or injure".

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Harvey said the bomb would have had "devastating consequences" if it had exploded with the officer or members of his family in the car.

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