Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland secretary Bradley accused of failing Fountain residents after attacks

Simon Coveney examines damage in the Bogside during visit
Simon Coveney examines damage in the Bogside during visit
Karen Bradley
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has been accused of "neglecting the people of the Fountain" after the Protestant enclave endured several nights of sectarian attacks earlier this month.

In the run-up to the Twelfth families in the area said they were "living in fear" after their homes were targeted by youths throwing petrol and paint bombs, bricks and bottles over the peace wall on two weekends.

The disorder escalated from attacks at the interface to rioting in the nearby Bogside, which lasted for six nights and saw more than 150 petrol bombs thrown.

Shots and four blast bombs were also aimed at police near the city's historic walls.

There was widespread condemnation of the attacks and politicians from Derry and beyond came to the area to show their support.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney visited the area, as did SDLP mayor John Boyle, DUP leader Arlene Foster and the Anglican Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, along with his Catholic counterpart Dr Donal McKeown.

However, in a joint DUP statement, East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell and Foyle MLA Gary Middleton hit out at Ms Bradley over what they said was her "inaction" regarding the issues facing the area.

"Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley seems to be ignoring the plight of people in the Fountain area of Londonderry," they said.

"In early July the small Protestant estate in the largely Roman Catholic west bank of Londonderry had come under stone-throwing attacks originating in the adjacent Bogside area.

"There then followed a series of daily attacks on the police and property in the same general area, which included gunfire and petrol bombs.

"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."

The Northern Ireland Office 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."

Earlier this month the Secretary of State attended a Twelfth parade in Co Down.

The Orange Order said Ms Bradley was formally invited to attend the parade during a recent meeting with its grand master Edward Stevenson.

It said it believed it was the first time a serving Secretary of State had accepted such an invitation.

Belfast Telegraph


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