Belfast Telegraph

'My son was so scared he wouldn't go to bed'

Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Splattered paint and a palpable sense of unease were all that remained in the Creggan Heights area of Londonderry the day after a bomb was discovered during a police search.

The crowd of youths, some masked, who had hurled petrol bombs, paint bombs, stones and bottles at police on Monday were long gone.

Residents were once again trying to get on with their lives in the knowledge that someone could have died at the hands of dissident republicans.

People on the streets and in their houses did not want to be identified, such is the level of fear, but they were nonetheless disgusted at the way their community was being portrayed.

One woman said: "What went on here on Monday night was a disgrace. My seven-year-old son was so terrified, he wouldn't go to his bed because he thought our house was going to go on fire.

"I tried to keep him away from the window, but he heard the shouts of that mob after they hit the police jeep with the petrol bombs and he knew what was going on.

"He is seven. I am raging that my son was exposed to that. It is disgusting.

The viable device designed to kill
The viable device designed to kill

"People talk about recreational rioting, but there was nothing recreational about what was going on here last night.

"What angered me too was the crowds of young people who turned up from other places to stand and watch was going on like it was a bit of craic.

"There were people out of their houses all night. That's not recreational either, that's the sad reality - good people who deserve to live in their own homes in peace."

Another woman was also angry at the way the area was being portrayed, which she said was not the true picture of Creggan.

She said: "People were forced out of their homes at no notice and then they couldn't get back when they realised it was going to be hours and hours.

"Whether you blame the police or blame the dissidents, the bottom line is that it is ordinary, good-living people of Creggan that are suffering.

"This should not be happening, but it is. I don't think the politicians give a hoot about trying to get back to Stormont and doing the job they were elected to do.

"There is so much good stuff going on in Creggan, but that is never shown. The only thing people hear about Creggan is bombs, punishment shootings and riots.

"It's gotten worse since that wee girl (Lyra McKee) was killed.

"Creggan is a great place for older people. It is a great place for everyone and there is a great community spirit, but no one is interested in that. It's only the bad stuff the media care about."

Parish Priest Fr Joe Gormley said this was a sentiment shared by many people in the community.

He added: "The bottom line is we could have had a very different scene here in Creggan if this bomb had not been defused by police.

"That bomb could have gone off when a young person was walking past. Anyone walking past would have been badly injured.

"The police officers who came into Creggan and who had to stand close to where that bomb was are human beings too.

"This idea that police officers are somehow legitimate targets because they wear a uniform is a way of dehumanising them. That is wrong.

"We do not need any more death from this kind of activity. We have had enough in this area over the years.

"We are tired of it and it needs to stop - it needs to stop right now."

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