‘Listen to the city - go away’

Elderly and disabled residents of Alexander House in Bishop Street at evacuated on Sunday evening as PSNI officers seal off Bishop Street inner after a suspect device was found in a car park opposite the courthouse. A controlled explosion was later carried out on the device. 2903JM17
Elderly and disabled residents of Alexander House in Bishop Street at evacuated on Sunday evening as PSNI officers seal off Bishop Street inner after a suspect device was found in a car park opposite the courthouse. A controlled explosion was later carried out on the device. 2903JM17

Derry’s most senior police officer has appealed to those behind Sunday night’s attempted bomb attack to “listen to the people of Derry and go away”.

PSNI chief superintendent Stephen Martin made the comment after a 50 kg car bomb was left in a car park on Bishop Street close to the courthouse on Sunday night.

The bomb was discovered shortly before 7pm when telephone warnings were made to a number of premises, including nearby Alexander House - a sheltered accommodation facility for older people.

Dozens of pensioners had to be evacuated from the building while British army bomb disposal experts carried out a number of controlled explosions on the device, which was hidden in a beer keg in a green Vauxhall Astra.

Many of the elderly residents were put up for the night in the nearby Tower Hotel.

It is believed the car used in the attack was stolen a short time earlier in the Glengalliagh Road. It was removed for forensic examination yesterday.

No organisation had claimed responsibility for the attack last night, but it’s believed to have been the work of dissident republicans.

Chief Supt. Martin said had the bomb exploded it could have caused loss of life and significant damage to property.

“The people who planted this bomb knew they were going to disturb people from their homes. They actually rang Alexander House to tell them,” he said.

In a direct appeal to the bombers, he said; “You probably won’t listen to me but instead listen to the people of Derry and go away.

“Listen to the clergy, the City Centre Initiative, and the elected representatives and see common sense. You have no mandate, no legitimacy, and you are not wanted.”

Much of the city centre was sealed off yesterday morning as bomb disposal experts examined the scene but cordons were lifted during the day and removed completely yesterday evening.

Chief Supt. Martin also warned that more bomb attempts could follow. “Unfortunately we have a small number of people who have set their face against the wishes of the majority of people and want to stop progress. Unfortunately we could see more attacks like this occurring again,” he said.

The attack has been condemned by political and religious leaders in Derry from all traditions.

Appeals were also made for older people in the city, who have borne the brunt of many of the recent bomb attacks and security alerts, to be left in peace.