Colum Eastwood and Gregory Campbell unite in condemning attempted bomb attack targeting Co. Derry police woman

Colum Eastwood and Gregory Campbell united in condemning the attempted murder of a Co. Derry police woman on Monday during Northern Ireland questions in the British House of Commons this morning.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 4:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 4:39 pm

The SDLP leader said: "Dissident republicans tried to murder a police officer and her young child in County Derry this week. I take this opportunity, as an Irish nationalist, to send those dissident republicans a very clear message: your quarrel is not with the police, it is not with the British state; it is with the people of Ireland and that is a battle you will never, ever win."

The Foyle MP also referred to the recent street violence in predominantly unionist areas of the north.

Colum Eastwood speaking in the British House of Commons this morning.
Colum Eastwood speaking in the British House of Commons this morning.

He asked the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis: "Given the Prime Minister’s very speedy response to an issue about football—as important as that is—compared with the quickness of his response to the violence on the streets of Northern Ireland for almost 10 days, does the Secretary of State agree with me that we need an active, engaged and interested Prime Minister in dealing with our peace process?"

Mr. Lewis responded: "Yes, absolutely, and I am very proud of the fact that we do. We have a Prime Minister who has been very much engaged. The hon. Gentleman should look at the Prime Minister’s comments and the fact that he was talking to the Taoiseach in the early stages.

"I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman’s opening remarks about dissident republicans. The Prime Minister has been actively involved. He has been in full communication all the way through this process. In terms of looking at how people deal with this, I would just say that all Members of this House, including some in the hon. Gentleman’s own party, need to think very carefully when they are tweeting things that could be seen as incendiary to make sure we all take the right tone on these matters to ensure we return calm for people as quickly as possible."

Mr. Eastwood later hit back at Mr. Lewis over his claim about tweets.

"On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During Northern Ireland questions, the Secretary of State accused members of my party of making incendiary remarks on Twitter. He should know by now that words in this Chamber have an implication on the streets—we have seen that too many times.

"He has been sitting in his ivory tower during all this trouble, when the rest of us were on the street, toe to toe with the men of violence, so will you ask him to come to the House to clarify his remarks, please?"

The Westminster speaker Lindsay Hoyle said: "That is not a point of order for the Chair, but I assure the hon. Member that his point is on the record, and it will certainly have been heard.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: "Having spoken to my constituent yesterday who was the subject of such a disgraceful attack, I can tell the House that the victim and her family deeply appreciate the unanimous support, and that the wider community in County Londonderry does as well.

"The Secretary of State has indicated his concern about the rising tensions. Will he take more steps now to understand the activities that are going on, the rationale behind them and the need to stand up to the violence, but also the need to understand and take action to deal with the underlying problems that exist in those areas?"

Mr. Lewis replied: "Yes. I think the hon. Gentleman alludes to a wider issue that the previous questioner rightly raised in the statement last week. A multi-faceted set of issues came together over the last few weeks.

"We should not allow ourselves to miss out on the fact that it is important and highlights why we have to do more work to ensure that, as we are levelling up and building back better across the United Kingdom, that reaches all communities and that all communities can benefit, see opportunities, see growth, and really have a better opportunity for a better and brighter future."