Main Derry to Belfast road blocked as more violence erupts in Derry’s Waterside overnight
There has been a further night of violence in Derry’s Waterside with petrol bombs and masonry fired at police and the main Derry to Belfast road barricaded for a time.
There have been nightly eruptions of violence across various predominantly unionist estates in the city over the past week and last night this spread to the Irish Street/ Dungiven Road area, where a barricade was set up on the road and petrol bombs thrown.
Derry City and Strabane Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Darrin Jones said today: “Last night (Sunday 4th April) we saw further disorder on our streets in the Waterside area, which started shortly after 9pm.
“Again, we saw our officers targeted, pelted with petrol bombs and masonry in the Dungiven Road area where pallets were placed on the road and set alight. This saw the main road closed for a time, causing disruption for local drivers.
“Thankfully, last night none of our officers were injured as they worked to bring the disorder to an end.
“I will reiterate our disappointment that we had another night of senseless and reckless criminal behaviour that achieves nothing but cause damage to the community. It is also shocking that some of those involved in last night’s disorder were children, some as young as 12 years old along with others up to 18 years old and a mix of male and females.
“It is totally unacceptable, and it is crucial we send out a message to those responsible that such behaviour cannot be tolerated.
“People deserve to feel safe within their own homes and be able to walk the streets without fear.
“I am again asking all those in our community with influence to use that influence so we do not see any further disgraceful scenes of violence on our streets and ensure young people do not get caught up in criminality and that they are kept safe and away from harm.
“My job is to keep people safe and I will continue to work alongside local representatives, partner agencies and members of the community to address any issues. I would appeal to everyone in the area to help diffuse any local tensions and prevent any further incidents.”
Alliance Councillor Philip McKinney has appealed for calm after a week in which police were attacked with petrol bombs and masonry.
The Waterside Councillor said: “I appeal to those behind this trouble to stop what they are doing, take a step back and do not allow this trouble to escalate any further,” said Councillor McKinney.
“I would also ask anyone with influence in the local community to work with the PSNI to bring these disturbances to an end, as well as appealing to parents to be aware of your children’s whereabouts. Local residents are being tortured by this and want it to stop.
“If anyone has information on those behind this trouble, I urge them to give it to police immediately.”
DUP MP Gregory Campbell has also called for calm and urged attacks on the police to stop.
However Mr Campbell also accused Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly of issuing condescending comments about young loyalists.
Mr Kelly MLA had claimed the disturbances in loyalist areas “are a direct consequence of the actions of political unionism”.
He said: “The disturbances in loyalist areas across the north are an out-working of the DUP’s rhetoric and undermining of the PSNI and criminal justice system.
“By their words and actions they have sent a very dangerous message to young people in loyalist areas.
“This comes after the DUP leadership met with representatives of armed loyalist criminal gangs on Brexit.
“These are the same gangs who are involved in ongoing threats against workers, journalists and public representatives.
“The DUP and political unionist leaders need to show leadership and end the incendiary rhetoric.”
Making reference to the frustration over the fall out from a funeral in Belfast last summer, he said Gregory Campbell said: “Those attacking the police should stop. Rioting and injuring rank and file officers will only result in young people being criminalised.
“Gerry Kelly and co. need to get real. People aren’t taps that some politician can turn on or off. Riots on the streets, just as they must be condemned, it also has to be realised that they are a symptom of the manner in which Sinn Fein has played fast and loose with the Covid rules whilst zealously demanding everyone else obey them.”
SDLP Derry & Strabane Councillor Martin Reilly said: “What we need at the moment from all politicians is calm words and cool heads and people to call for an immediate end to this disorder and violence. My SDLP colleagues and I have been speaking to the PSNI and people living in these areas urging anyone with information on those responsible to share information to help prevent this happening again. Such violent acts are putting lives at risk, blocking roads disrupts the local community and all of this activity in the middle of a pandemic is diverting emergency services away from their usual duties. There can be no justification for this violence continuing - it needs to stop now before lives lost or ruined.”
Continuing Councillor Reilly said: “23 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, all politicians need to recommit to working together, recognising the need to respect each other in this shared home place. There are many great people in the community across the Waterside who are working to bring employment and educational opportunities to these areas and running projects bringing people away from violence. The SDLP will continue to work towards building peaceful connected communities and oppose those wishing to wreck a hard won peace by reckless words or violence action.”