Belfast Telegraph

Dissident republicans blamed as trouble flares in Derry for fifth night

By Mark Bain and Rebecca Black

Trouble started for a fifth night in Londonderry last night after a group of youths started a fire on a busy flyover.

Youths as young as 12 could be seen in the Bogside stoking burning wooden palettes, preventing cars from entering or exiting the roadway.

Armed with petrol bombs and stones, the group ran to and from the Bogside to the walled area of the city throwing missiles into the unionist Fountain housing estate.

Although the fire began at around 9.30pm, police or the Fire Service had still not visited the area at almost 11pm.

Earlier, police officers spent time searching for bullets lodged in the city's walls in the wake of the previous night of violence.

The PSNI blamed dissident republicans for a volley of automatic gunfire aimed at officers on Tuesday.

No one was injured and the bullets were found both in the walls themselves and nearby trees.

It is believed the shots were automatic gunfire that came from the vicinity of the Bogside Inn.

Around 16 petrol bombs and five paint bombs were also thrown close to the walls and at police patrols.

District Commander Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said it was believed dissident republicans fired the shots, and engineered the recent disorder.

"Officers who were in the city last night to deliver a community safety operation are wakening up this morning trying to come to terms with what could have been.

"We are offering them every support," he said.

"It is quite clear that this attack was carried out by violent dissident republicans who we believe engineered the disorder we have seen in the city over the last number of nights.

"While this is a serious and disturbing escalation, it will not deter us from doing our job and that is protecting the people of this district."

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley led condemnation of the incident.

"Anyone, who was in this part of the city at this time, including children or young people, could have been killed. This murderous attack has to be condemned by all right-thinking individuals," she said.

Yesterday the leaders of all the main political parties united to condemn the violence.

In a rare joint statement they said the shots fired were "a clear and obvious attempt to murder police officers".

"There must be a strong, clear and united voice against those who would engage in such disgraceful violence," they said.

"We condemn any illegal activity and urge those who are damaging their own community and intimidating their neighbours to stop."

On the ground there's a determination that the violence that has built up over the past two weeks will not have a future.

Jeanette Warke has been a community worker for more than 40 years, based at Cathedral Youth Club, the hub of the Fountain estate.

"We're all asking the same question. What's it all about?" she said. "I'm angry. We can only hope these men with guns listen to the community. No one wants this.

"What happened on Tuesday night was an attempt at murder, and we're not dealing with young kids any more.

"People are worried. Elderly people, especially at Alexander House, are scared and in tears.

"Two communities that should be and have been working as one are being held to ransom by faceless, mindless, stupid creatures.

"They show no respect. But respect is the people from Ballymagroarty, a Catholic area, who are coming over here on the Twelfth morning to help make breakfasts."

Youth worker Donna Best was struck on the head by a stone on Monday night as she tried to move children away.

"I lived through the 1970s and this isn't a pleasant reminder. We don't know what's coming," she said.

Standing on Derry's Walls behind the Fountain estate, Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan watched yesterday as police examined the wall where the bullets struck.

Pointing out Meenan Square below, she said: "That's a problem. That's the perfect cover for the people carrying out the violence. There are plans to redevelop, but it needs done now. Just knock the place down."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph