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Show dissidents their sinister signs aren't welcome, parties urge Derry community

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Signs erected on Central Drive in the Creggan estate in Londonderry

Signs erected on Central Drive in the Creggan estate in Londonderry

Signs erected on Central Drive in the Creggan estate in Londonderry

Signs erected on Central Drive in the Creggan estate in Londonderry

Signs erected on Central Drive in the Creggan estate in Londonderry

Signs erected on Central Drive in the Creggan estate in Londonderry

Signs erected on Central Drive in the Creggan estate in Londonderry

Calls have been made for community action against dissident republicans who put up sinister signs in Londonderry threatening people who talk to the police.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the removal of offensive signs, banners and graffiti was a task for the PSNI and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) but local communities have a role to play as well.

Mr Durkan's view was shared by his counterpart in the DUP, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton, who said he understood the reluctance of the police to go into Creggan and take down sinister signs put up in the aftermath of journalist Lyra McKee's murder.

PSNI Chief Inspector Jonathan Hunter said it was not the job of the police to remove such signs and graffiti.

"We find the placement of these signs as equally repugnant as the wider community does. However, the removal of such items is not the responsibility of the police," he added.

"We want this city to be safe and inclusive and will fully support efforts by the relevant land or property owner to have them removed.

"This is a ploy that has been used over the years to undermine confidence in policing.

"It is not reflective of what the wider community in this city wants or needs."

Mr Durkan commended the people of Creggan who previously made their disgust at the dissident republican movement obvious.

He said: "The people of Creggan and the wider Derry area have shown strength, reiterated their solid commitment to peace and condemned an organisation whose efforts serve to destroy peace and divide communities.

"I would reiterate the demands made in the recent motion brought to council, urging the DfI to remove paramilitary flags and offensive banners from its street furniture.

"Going one step further, I believe any offensive item, including posters and graffiti which have the clear intention of provocation and intimidation, should be removed.

"Clearly, the DfI has a duty in this regard, but the council, the PSNI and communities have a vital role to play as well.

"The removal of such imagery from our streets requires a multi-agency approach and public backing."

Mr Middleton said that while the police did have a role to play in taking down the signs, he understood the difficulties. He also echoed Mr Durkan's call for a collective response.

"Police are trying to work with the community and deliver policing but (also) trying to be tough with this dissident element who are trying to cause disruption," Mr Middleton added.

"The concern would be that if the police went into Creggan and took those signs down, that could have a counter-effect in that area and could give dissidents propaganda that could be used against the police.

"That is not to say the police should turn a blind eye, but I don't think they are.

"Since the death of Lyra McKee, we have seen that there is a strong support for law and order and for the police in Creggan, and the police don't want to set that back.

"From a police perspective, there is a safety concern for officers, but also I think there would be a concern about giving those who put the signs up ammunition to attack the police.

"I think the solutions have to come from a number of agencies (such as) the DfI, but also the local community.

"I know it can be very difficult for residents to put themselves out there because they can be targeted."

The DfI was contacted for response.

Belfast Telegraph