City centre stand-off continues

The scene at John Street in the city last night, as police sealed off the area. DER0415MC012
The scene at John Street in the city last night, as police sealed off the area. DER0415MC012

It appears that police in Derry are preparing for the long haul tonight as incident involving a man who has blockaded himself into a flat at a housing complex in the city is still continuing.

Heavily armed police entered the flats in John Street where they said they were concerned about the safety of a man inside. The incident began around 2.30pm.

People standing near the cordons said they believed the man inside was armed.

Patrons of a nearby drop in centre had to be evacuated and the flats in John Street have also been evacuated.

A police spokesman said officers had spoken to the man in the flats.

He added: “The situation at the moment has been contained and police do not believe there is any direct threat to other members of the public.”

There was a large presence in the vicinity of John Street including police, fire crews and ambulance crews wearing protective clothing. This included three fire appliances, two ambulances with crews wearing protective gear and police.

A number of people from nearby flats had to be evacuated and said they had no idea when they would be allowed to return to their homes. Those affected by the incident are being housed at both Brooke Park Leisure Centre and long Tower Youth Club.

The Craigavon Bridge remained open throughout however the city suffered considerable traffic chaos during rush hour as Foyle Road was closed from the Foyleside roundabout to the Craigavon Bridge.

At the time of going to press John Street remained sealed off at both ends.

However local people who had their vehicles in car parks on the Foyle Road were permitted to retrieve them.

Speaking from the scene Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue said: “I visited the scene of the incident and both John Street and Foyle Road out to the lower deck of the Craigavon Bridge are closed off.

“I spoke to the PSNI and emergency services and at this stage it is still uncertain how long this incident will go on for.

“A small number of people who live in John Street are currently out of their accommodation.

“I contacted the emergency response team from Derry City Council , C.R.J to try and get them temporary accommodation, thankfully that has now being arranged at Brooke Park.

“I would also like to thank the Long Tower Youth Club who offered accommodation.

“I very much hope this incident can be resolved peacefully and as speedily as possible.”

Police advice for druvers to avoid the area remains in place.