Masked men who targeted a van belonging to community organisation Triax in Creggan on Saturday have been described as “fascists and bullies.”
Shortly after 4.30pm on Saturday two masked men poured petrol over the front of a van belonging to the Triax Neighbourhood Management Team (NMT) which was parked at Dunree Gardens, Creggan, and set it alight, causing substantial damage to the vehicle’s engine.
A number of local residents put out the fire and were verbally abused by the masked men. It is believed dissident republicans were responsible for the attack.
The incident was condemned by Creggan community leaders and elected representatives.
Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said: “Quite clearly this is an attack on the entire community carried out by criminal elements who are out of control and believe they can carry out such actions in broad day light with impunity.
This follows a long list of incidents in the Bogside and Creggan areas in the past year which has seen attacks on the Gasyard Centre, Corn Beef Tin, Healthy Living centre and sporting facilities as well as attacks on the homes and cars of community workers.
“It’s scandalous and is clearly seen by the people of the area as the work of fascists and bullies trying instil fear and terror.”
In a joint statement, Triax chair, Gerry Quinn, and Creggan Neighbourhood Partnership chair, Tony O’Doherty said: “There is nothing political about cutting grass, just about anybody can cut grass. Equally there is nothing intrinsically political about burning a van, just about anybody can do it.
“On behalf of TRIAX and CNP we would like to record our abhorrence at this event, and our categorical rejection that there can be any justification for it.”
Triax NMT member Kevin Campbell described the attack as “disgusting” but said it would not prevent the group from continuing its work. “We can only wonder at the motivations of the criminals who carried this out, but whatever they hoped to achieve with this attack all they have done is strengthen our resolve to continue our work.”