‘New IRA’ behind Derry riots: PSNI
Mary Lou joins protest against ‘dissident influence’
THE North’s police chief has accused the so-called ‘New IRA’ of being the primary dissident republican group orchestrating rioting and attacks on his officers in Derry over the Twelfth of July marching season.
George Hamilton said members of other violent extremist dissident organisations were also involved in fomenting six successive nights of violence in the Bogside.
In the latest bout of unrest, two explosive devices were hurled at officers on Thursday night, with 74 petrol bombs also thrown. Police have said it was a ‘miracle’ no officers were injured. Three men were arrested, one on suspicion of attempted murder. Riot police fired four baton rounds during the disturbances in the republican neighbourhood.
Many of those engaging in the violence are youths, some not even in their teens. Hundreds of people from across Derry have turned out at a rally to protest against the six nights of violence in the Bogside
Residents, clergy members including the Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, and politicians from across the divide turned out at Butcher Gate, the spot where police Land Rovers were attacked with petrol bombs on Thursday night.
The Mayor of Derry John Boyle, SDLP leader Colm Eastwood, civil rights activist Eamon McCann and Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald were all in attendance to stand in defiance of what they say is dissident republican influence exploiting vulnerable teenagers. Fiachra McGuinness, son of the late former deputy first minister Martin, was also in attendance.
After being briefed by local commanders in Derry, Mr Hamilton warned that if the violence continued it was ‘only a matter of time’ before someone was killed. ‘We believe violent dissident republican groups are behind this. They will use whatever excuse they can to bring about unrest and to have young people involve themselves in violence against the police,’ Mr Hamilton said.
‘We believe there are members of a variety of dissident groupings in this disorder – the socalled New IRA is probably the primary grouping behind this disorder and behind these threats to police and these murderous attacks on police.’
The latest night of disorder flared after the city hosted Twelfth parades. Members of the public were also targeted. At one point, a hooded rioter hurled a petrol bomb at the windscreen of a van passing through the Bogside from point-blank range. Big groups of hooded teens lined the streets from 9pm, carrying petrol bombs before starting a bonfire, in an apparent bid to goad police into the area.
McGuinness’s son attended protest
Unrest: The scene on Fahan Street in Derry yesterday