Dissidents warned over lost trade
Dissident republican activity in Londonderry will starve the city of millions of pounds in lost trade, retailers have warned.
While politicians have repeatedly condemned the human cost of continuing dissident violence, Foyle MP Mark Durkan added that businesses were also concerned at the commercial impact of unrest.
"These attacks are victimising legitimate local businesses, threatening jobs, costing wages and doing Derry down," he said.
This comes days after Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his niece and young family were caught up in a bomb explosion in the Lecky Road area of the city, when masked men forced their way into a neighbouring house and threw a bomb. The attack narrowly missed injuring families, including children.
Last month masked men threw a holdall containing a bomb into a Santander branch in the Diamond in Derry. Children were again among those caught up in the subsequent alert as police evacuated the area, before the device exploded an hour later.
Mr Durkan said: "So-called dissident attacks in Derry are not threatening some distant system, disturbing the establishment or challenging the state. Instead, they are doing real damage to a city centre that needs every trading hour it can get.
"It is local people who own, run or work in businesses who lose trade, product and wages as a result of such attacks and threats."
The SDLP representative spoke out after it emerged the city's Richmond Centre lost over £100,000 in business on the day the Santander Bank was targeted.
Mr Durkan said businesses are already under pressure from the challenging economic climate. "We all share in the wider civic loss that comes from repeated disruptions which keep people out of the city centre and puts others off coming to the city as either shoppers or tourists," he said.
"Shutting down the centre of Derry will not open up any political paths for these groups. Harming Derry's economy will not help Ireland."