Derry’s MP has lambasted those who “only want Derry to be a theatre for destruction and death”.
Mark Durkan, of the SDLP, issued his broadside after four live mortar bombs were intercepted by police in Derry minutes before being launched.
Police believe the intended target was a police station in Derry. Three men were arrested in Sunday night’s operation which is being linked to dissident republicans.
Mark Durkan said the mortars, if fired, could have caused an “awful catastrophe.”
He added: “I have mixed feelings about this attack – relief that these devices have been intercepted but disgust that anybody could plan an operation of this nature with the devastation and potential death that it would involve.
“Whilst people in Derry are justifiably annoyed and frustrated with the ongoing disruption from this, it is better that we are facing disruption today rather than the story of devastation and death that we could all have been talking about.
“These mortars bombs are not precision devices – and God only knows where any one of those four devices could have gone or the damage it could have done.
“We have all been spared an awful catastrophe – not only in physical terms to buildings or our infrastructure but also in human terms.”
Mr. Durkan contrasted Sunday’s evening’s security alert with a charity event at Derry’s Ebrington Square the previous day.
“If we contrast those who were planning this attack with what the thousands of people from this city and beyond were doing on Saturday. I was there in Ebrington Square (with my daughter Dearbháil) and we were all doing our song and dance routine for the ‘Annie’ world record attempt.
“We were all putting out a positive story, a positive message about our community and the talents and ambitions that we want to celebrate in this city. But, no, there is a small minority of people who say they want Derry to be a theatre for destruction and death.
“They will not succeed. They have no regard for anyone except their own warped and violent egos.”
This is a sentiment shared by his party colleague, Thomas Conway, who is chair of Derry’s policing partnership.
He said: “I would like to commend the PSNI on Sunday night’s operation in which they apprehended a vehicle containing four ‘live’ mortars as they were being transported through the Brandywell area of the city.
“Police officers were, no doubt, the target of these devices but they could have detonated at any time and had potential to cause havoc and serious loss of life. It is shocking that these people, who have no mandate whatsoever in this city, have once again caused major distress to residents, many of whom are elderly and infirm. It is clear that the actions of our police officers have again prevented a major atrocity taking place in this city.”