The new Chief Constable George Hamilton was in Derry yesterday to meet with community representatives and religious leaders here.
In a brief meeting with local press he acknowledged that the weekend ahead was a “volatile period” however he said there was a “high level of optimism and hope that we’ll get through this weekend without things escalating into serious violence or disorder”, which he shared.
He also agreed that the model used in the city around the Apprentice Boys’ parade is something that “has worked in Derry-Londonderry over the last 15 years that doesn’t seem to always have been translated into other parts of Northern Ireland.”
He continued, “There is good practice here; it’s not without its challenges but there is something that seems to be going on here around facilitation, a bit of generosity, an acknowledgement of the views of other people, even if it’s not agreed with; about relationships being built so that those that need to parade can parade, so that life of the city can continue to flourish, and those that need to protest can protest.
“If there is learning that can be captured from that and applied in Belfast then we all share a collective responsibility to do that.”
Regarding dissident attacks he said, “Obviously it’s of a concern to us. In the last two years there have been 49 terrorist incidents involving so called dissent groups. We are absolutely committed to tackling that through the criminal justice process and as a result 15 people have been charged and gone to prison for terrorist related crimes, from this district.
“We want to help build a safe, confident and peaceful society but we can’t do it on our own.”
Speaking about the recent firebomb at the Everglades Hotel in the city he responded, “The dissident groups are opposed to peace; they are inflicting harm in communities; they are depriving the economy of jobs
“They will not prevail. We will continue to pursue them through the criminal justice process and they will be locked up.
“However, it’s a wonderful example of how resilient this city is when people pick themselves up, dust themselves down, and keep going regardless of this dissent activity.”