Northern Ireland police chief blames Derry violence on 'New IRA'
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland police chief blames Derry violence on 'New IRA'
Man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after night of dissent in Bogside area
Northern Irelandâs chief of police has blamed a so-called âNew IRAâ for six successive nights of violence in Derry that culminated in explosive devices being thrown at officers.
The PSNIâs chief constable, George Hamilton, condemned the attacks which he said could easily lead to a death. âWe 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,â he said.
âWe believe there are members of a variety of dissident groupings in this disorder â" the so-called New IRA is probably the primary grouping behind this disorder and behind these threats to police and these murderous attacks on police.â
A 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after Thursday nightâs violence in the Bogside area. Two improvised devices were aimed at officers during the unrest, with 74 petrol bombs also thrown. Two other men, aged 18 and 50, were also arrested.
The Sinn FÃ©in president, Mary Lou McDonald, who held talks with community leaders in the city on Fri day, said the rioters would not break the people of the Bogside.
She said the dissidents were on the âroad to nowhereâ and rejected any suggestion they were true republicans.
âWhat we are witnessing here is a cynical and calculated manipulation of young children into a warped agenda that serves no useful purpose,â she said, as she urged people to attend the rally in large numbers.
Riot police fired four plastic baton rounds during the disturbances in the republican neighbourhood. Hamilton defended the use of the baton rounds, emphasising that only four had been discharged in comparison to the 200 petrol bombs hurled at police this week. He said: âThereâs a long history of use of baton rounds in this jurisdiction and it is much safer now than previously.
âWe donât want to use these against communities, we have to act in a proportionate manner, but we need the full range of tactical options available to us.â
When challenged on why police were seemingly reluctant to deploy officers into the Bogside during the rioting, Hamilton said those behind the violence were trying to draw the police in. âWe donât want to be fighting with anyone, we use balanced judgment when to go in and when to stay out and operational decisions are made on a routine basis,â he added.
Hamilton said many young people, some as young as eight, were involved. He cautioned that if the disorder continued it was âonly a matter of time before a police officer or child is injured or worseâ.
The five main political parties in Northern Ireland jointly condemned the rioting earlier in the week. They were again forthright in their criticism on Friday after the sixth night of disturbances. The Democratic Unionist party leader, Arlene Foster, tweeted: âReally disturbing scenes last night in Londonderry. Someone will be killed if this continues. The main party leaders have jointly called for rioting to end. The police are riski ng life and limb trying to tackle this. All violence must be condemned.â
Sinn FÃ¨inâs Elisha McCallion, MP for Derry, said: âpeople are absolutely infuriated that this has come upon our cityâ. She added: âThis is disgracefulâ.Orange Order parades take place amid violence in Northern Ireland Read more
The latest disorder came after Derry hosted Twelfth of July parades.
The majority of the projectiles were aimed at police, but some attackers targeted the public. At one point, a hooded rioter threw a petrol bomb from close range at the windscreen of a van passing through the Bogside. Rioters have also targeted homes in the nearby unionist Fountain estate.
This week of violence in the city has brought three separate attempts to murder police officers. Tuesday night saw machine gun fire directed at officers, and two pipe bombs were thrown at them the following day. No one was injured in either incident.
There were violent scenes in Belfast on Wednesday evening, with loyalists blamed for the disorder. Masked men hijacked and torched vehicles amid anger over attempts to reduce the size of two loyalist Eleventh Night bonfires.
The Twelfth is a Protestant celebration held in Northern Ireland on 12 July. Thousands of Orange Order members paraded across the region on Thursday, marking the victory of the Protestant William of Orange over the Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
- Northern Ireland
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