Belfast Telegraph

Dissident grip on estate 'fuelled by anger at policing'

By Donna Deeney

Dissident republican activity is thriving in parts of Londonderry because of a high level of dissatisfaction with policing, according to the chairman of a group that negotiates on behalf of people threatened by paramilitaries.

Tommy McCourt from the Rosemount Resource Centre in Derry said the most recent paramilitary-style shooting, discovery of a pipe bomb and the burning of a hijacked van all in the Creggan area within 24 hours is evidence of the level of dissatisfaction in the community which is allowing dissidents to operate.

The teenage victim of the paramilitary-style shooting was known to negotiators at Rosemount Resource Centre, however Mr McCourt said he was still trying to establish what had prompted the brutal attack on Thursday night.

He said: "We had engaged with this young man and his family previously and unfortunately I was not overly surprised when I heard about this shooting but it still should not have happened.

"There is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in the area about the way in which Creggan is policed and that is allowing dissident activity to grow and I don't see things getting any better any time soon.

"Along with this is a general sense of dissatisfaction about the economy, benefit cuts and housing and a plethora of social problems and no one appears to be listening or attempting to address.

"We have consistently made it clear that violence is not the answer and have encouraged people to address their concerns in other ways such as standing as independents in elections but for an indication of just how disengaged people feel, all you have to do is see that less than 50% of the people in Creggan voted."

Acting Chief Inspector Alan Hutton said the police in Derry would be willing to engage with anyone who has an issue with them.

He added: "Local police would be glad to meet with any individuals or group who are dissatisfied with any aspect of how they feel we are working in their areas."

Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey condemned the actions of the paramilitaries and insisted they do not represent the community at large.

He said: "This latest attack is part of a pattern.

"It confirms undemocratic elements in the community are attempting to get control and gain influence. This is sinister and unwelcome.

"People need to be strong and continue helping the police identify and pursue those responsible for these assaults."

story so far

An 18-year-old man was shot five times on Thursday night in an attack in Rathlin Drive in the city just hours after a viable pipe bomb had been made safe in nearby Eastway Road.

On Wednesday night, three masked men hijacked a pizza delivery van which was found burned out in Central Drive.

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