Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness labelled those involved in Saturday’s rioting in Derry as “sectarian” and said their actions were contrary to republicanism.
The Sinn Féin leader made his comments after disturbances which saw a number of petrol bombs thrown over security fences at the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall on Society Street.
“What we witnessed in Derry was completely unacceptable,” Mr McGuinness said. “The attacks on the Memorial Hall were motivated entirely by sectarianism and whoever carried them out should know that such behaviour goes against everything about Irish republicanism.”
The Deputy First Minister also called on those behind the violence to attempt to justify their actions. “I challenge those who were behind this violence to come out and try and defend the incidents that occurred in our city. Let them stand over a mother and daughter being dragged from their car and other people’s livelihoods being destroyed with work vans being burned.
“The vast majority of people in Derry want to get on with the job of moving this city forward. Those behind this violence seem to be wedded to an entirely different agenda,” he said.
Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan also condemned the violence and said those responsible only succeeded in destroying their own areas. “Some of the people carrying out these disturbances are alarmingly young and are causing a huge amount of distress to the people of the Bogside. All last week, we saw the wanton destruction of the riots in England on our TV screens. Unfortunately for the people of the Bogside all they had to do was look out their windows to see similar violence.
“This is not the first time the police have had to deal with this type of disturbance here and, a lot of the time, the aim of those involved is to draw the police into an area. I would have hoped the police would have been better prepared to cope with that.”
Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said; “What happened was totally wrong. It was anti-community and there can be justification for it. It was very clear that this orgy of violence was orchestrated by those who have absolutely no regard for the people of the area.”