Belfast Telegraph

Thugs target Protestant enclave in a second weekend of Derry rioting

DUP's Gary Middleton and Drew Thompson, SDLP's Mark H Durkan and mayor of Derry and Strabane John Boyle at the peaceline in the Fountain estate
DUP's Gary Middleton and Drew Thompson, SDLP's Mark H Durkan and mayor of Derry and Strabane John Boyle at the peaceline in the Fountain estate
The peace wall where petrol bombs were thrown at police
Scorch marks on Lecky Road
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A night of "terror" in Londonderry has been condemned as "ethnic cleansing" after dozens of petrol bombs were hurled at police and houses close to an interface.

Trouble flared for the second weekend in a row just outside the Fountain estate near Nailor's Row in the Bogside.

One of three petrol bombs thrown into the mainly Protestant estate ignited, and more than 30 were thrown when police came under attack shortly before 10pm on Saturday.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton condemned those responsible for "a night of violence and terror" on the streets he said cannot be allowed to continue.

"Mayhem on our streets achieves nothing," he said.

He said lives were being put at risk and residents left in fear due to "intolerance" of the Twelfth celebrations.

"There are elements within republicanism deliberately intent on trying to raise tensions in the run-up to one of the largest unionist cultural expressions," he said.

"It is deeply worrying the lengths that those involved are determined to go to by endangering life and property."

Mr Middletown commended police officers who worked "around the clock" to prevent loss of life during the "reprehensible" attacks.

"The residents of the Fountain want to live in peace, side by side," he said.

"Those involved, sadly including children, do not care about the community or our city."

He demanded leadership "from all sides" to prevent further unrest. He also appealed for calm and said those responsible must be apprehended for causing destruction and fear.

Bricks and bottles were also thrown at properties in the area which police said caused "mindless damage" and "put lives at risk".

UUP deputy mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council Derek Hussey also condemned the violence, which he said was motivated by "pure sectarian hatred".

"This is a small Protestant community whose very existence is an affront to a section of republicans who will not be content until all Protestants are removed from the west bank of the Foyle," he added.

"Republicans embarked on a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Protestants in the early 1970s and now a new generation seems determined to try to finish the job."

Mr Hussey said the scale of the attack, which he branded as "a stain on the city", means it can only be treated as attempted murder. He said the violence must be stopped.

"All the people of the Fountain want is the equality and respect that others talk about," he added.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said the level of "death and destruction" which could have been caused did not bear thinking about and could never be justified.

"It is my opinion that some are merely using sectarianism as an excuse for thuggery. A lot of these young people have no respect for their own community," he said.

Her warned that a lot of good work which has been done in the interface area could be reversed.

He slammed the DUP and Sinn Fein's reliance on divisive politics, which is "filtering down and festering" on the city's streets.

"This manifests itself in ever-growing displays of flags, bigger bonfires and tensions between communities," he added.

"Now is the time for cool heads and leadership."

Superintendent Gordon McCalmont thanked all those involved in efforts to bring the situation under control as he vowed to deploy all necessary resources "to detect and deter those responsible".

He appealed to community leaders to help police maintain control and avoid a repeat.

Belfast Telegraph


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