Belfast Telegraph

DUP angry at Secretary of State's absence following Fountain attacks

By Gareth Cross

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has hit out at Secretary of State Karen Bradley for her failure to visit the Fountain area of Londonderry.

It comes after unrest in Derry last week with both police and the Protestant Fountain community coming under attack over a number of days.

Petrol bombs were thrown into the Fountain from the city's Bogside area and shots were fired at the police in a week of sustained violence.

One elderly resident who lives in the interface area between the Fountain and Bogside said she was so scared she was sleeping with a hammer under her pillow.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Tanaiste Simon Coveney visited residents in Derry last weekend to show solidarity.

Chief Constable George Hamilton said that he believed the paramilitary group the 'New IRA' was behind the attacks.

However Mr Campbell and his DUP colleague Foyle MLA Gary Middleton have asked why the Secretary of State did not do the same.

“Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley seems to be ignoring the plight of people in the Fountain area of Londonderry," the DUP representatives said in a joint statement.

"The Irish Republic's Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who has no ministerial responsibility in Northern Ireland, has visited the area and is scheduled to do so again in the next few days. This has occurred at the same time as numerous attempts have been made both privately and publicly, to ensure that the person who does have ministerial responsibility, the NI Secretary of State, visits to see the issues at first hand.

"There have been several efforts to hold private meetings in the wider locality which are no substitute whatsoever for seeing at first hand the problems being faced by residents and then taking the necessary action to ensure the safety of innocent people who demand protection from unprovoked attacks. 

"Karen Bradley needs to visit the people impacted and act - not in weeks - but now.”

Speaking last week Mrs Bradley condemned the attacks on the Fountain and asked anyone with information to contact police.

An NIO spokeswoman said: “Secretary of State Karen Bradley has committed to visiting Londonderry soon. She has condemned the violence in Londonderry - by a small minority who do not speak for most people there - and expressed her thanks to the PSNI, other emergency services and members of the wider public who have worked to manage and resolve the situation.”

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