Belfast Telegraph

DUP MP lashes Catholic bishop over giving ‘rationale’ for Londonderry rioters

Six consecutive nights of rioting took place in the city.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has criticised Catholic bishop Donal McKeown, claiming he gave a “rationale” for the people behind recent disorder in Londonderry.

Over six consecutive nights of rioting, shots were fired at police and scores of petrol bombs were thrown.

Three people have been questioned by police over the violence.

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Bishop Donal McKeown has been accused of giving a ‘rationale’ for rioting (Niall Carson/PA)

Two, a 22-year-old man and a 17-year-old man, are set to appear before Omagh Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning charged with offences relating to the disorder.

Bishop McKeown urged an end to the violence while addressing a solidarity rally of residents on Friday.

He also spoke about people who feel left out of the political progress.

“They do not see the last 20 years as having benefited them.

Bishop Donal McKeown has on two separate occasions while condemning the rioters, made references to 'not demonising' those carrying out the attacks and to 'their disadvantages' Gregory Campbell MP

“Some communities that suffered much in the past are still suffering disadvantage.

“There are young people who feel life is passing them by and looking down on them.”

He added: “All who live here are part of this country.

“All deserve to be cherished equally.”

Bishop McKeown called for people to come together and build a city “where everyone feels comfortable”.

Mr Campbell has taken issue with the comments.

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Disorder on Fahan street in Londonderry (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There have been serious disturbances, not just in parts of Londonderry but at other locations in Northern Ireland also,” he said.

“The most sustained trouble was in the Bogside.

“Rioters tried to attack residents in the Fountain estate as well as the police.

“Bishop Donal McKeown has on two separate occasions, while condemning the rioters, made references to ‘not demonising’ those carrying out the attacks and to ‘their disadvantages’.

“Many people who are law abiding and raising families, despite lots of disadvantages, are deeply concerned at the bishop’s comments which, however well meaning, could be interpreted as a rationale for rioters.

“Right across the community, we need to continue to attract investment for people irrespective of where they live or what background they are from.

“At the same time, we must give no grounds whatsoever for a belief that law breakers have cover from someone trying to explain their motives in a way they can take justification from.”

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