Belfast Telegraph

Petrol bombs thrown at police during dissident parade in Northern Ireland


By Leona O'Neill

Violence erupted on the streets of Londonderry yesterday during an unauthorised dissident republican Easter parade.

Gangs of youths ­- some as young as 12 - threw petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and masonry at PSNI vehicles parked near the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee parade's starting point at Central Drive.

The trouble erupted in the Creggan as a police officer read out a warning over a loudspeaker that the event was unlawful.

Police pulled back after a barrage of missiles rained down on them, clearing a path for a group of masked men dressed in paramilitary-style garb to march in formation down the street towards the City Cemetery.

The worst of the violence occurred near the gates of the cemetery where a gang of youths again attacked police vehicles with masonry, petrol bombs and their fists and feet, allowing the dissident colour party to enter the cemetery unchallenged.

The scenes drew anger from unionists and mainstream republicans.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: "This was an unregistered parade and today the scenes coming from the Creggan area have been totally disgraceful.

"People in paramilitary-style uniform is wrong and the continued glorification of terrorism is abhorrent. Nobody has a desire to see the violence on display today, except for barbaric thugs intent on endangering life and property."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said it was a "depressing reflection of our past".

"It is thoroughly depressing watching these children riot in the Creggan estate in Londonderry at the behest of so-called dissident republicans who are seeking to follow the road map laid down by Sinn Fein, who weren't averse to orchestrating the odd riot in the past," he said.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell also condemned the violence.

"Everyone has the right to remember their dead with dignity and respect," he said.

"However, the petrol bomb and stone attacks on the PSNI in Creggan today by masked individuals close to a commemoration were dangerous and disgraceful.

"I would caution young people in particular about getting caught up in this sort of behaviour and the community does not want to see incidents like these on the streets of Derry."

The PSNI said those involved in yesterday's disturbances would face consequences.

Chief Inspector Ivor Morton said: "We attempted to engage with the organisers of the parade over a period of time in a bid to facilitate their event within the law. The organisers declined to enter into any discussions with police on this matter.

"The organisers also stated in the run-up to today's event they were informed by police the parade would be stopped and would not be allowed to go ahead. This was patently untrue and can only be viewed as an attempt by those behind the parade as a bid to raise tensions in the area.

"It is, therefore, regrettable that in raising those tensions a small number of people saw fit to attack police officers with petrol bombs in what was clearly a pre-meditated attack.

"I want to be clear that for anyone who engaged in actions that were unlawful or detrimental to community safety, there will be consequences through the criminal justice system."

At the republican plot inside the cemetery, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was read out and wreaths were laid - one on behalf of 'the Irish Republican Army' - before former republican prisoner and Newry Saoradh member Stephen Murney gave a speech.

"The British State and Free state fear us and fear us they should," he said. "We are in the business of revolution, there is nothing romantic about it. It's dirty, it's nasty, it's vicious and it's dangerous. That's the reason it's called the struggle."

Mr Murney finished his oration with a chilling message in the form of a Karl Marx quote.

"As we leave here today we must recommit and rededicate ourselves to the republican struggle. I urge you all to join the 'festival of the oppressed'. Our enemy is strong and we must prepare ourselves for the struggle that lies ahead," he said.

"We have to be prepared for this fight and it will be people like those gathered here today who will follow the well-trodden path of rebellion. We have to be the agitators for liberation. Join the revolution, comrades, and bring this fight to a finish.

"Finally, comrades, we will end on a note of defiance. I have this message for the forces of British imperialism: 'We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror' - Karl Marx."

Police have urged anyone with information regarding yesterday's incident to contact them.

Belfast Telegraph

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