‘There was no other side,’ says Campbell

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said the decision to stand in solidarity with Lyra McKee’s family and friends at a peace vigil in Creggan last week had been an easy one.

Saturday, 27th April 2019, 11:41 am

There was no other side, he said. Mr. Campbell acknowledged some may have been surprised to see DUP leader Arlene Foster flanked by himself at rally in the heart of the staunchly republican estate.

But speaking in the British House of Commons the East Derry MP said Derry was united in its response.

He said: “Last Thursday, Lyra McKee was murdered as she stood on the streets of Creggan in my home city of Londonderry. The following morning, a number of us - politicians, businesspeople, police and people from the local council - gathered in the city centre to discuss a response.

“The word came in that people were going to gather to show solidarity and opposition to the terror that had appeared on the streets the previous night. There was a decision to take about whether people should go.”

Mr. Campbell advised MPs who may not have been familiar with Derry’s political geography that Creggan was a largely republican and nationalist area where the population generally would not share the positions of the DUP.

“Those who know the geography of the city will know that I live on and represent people on the other side of the river, but there was no other side; there was only one decision to be made, and that was to go and stand in solidarity with those who abhorred such a deadly and tragic act. Hopefully, the wider community will unite, because this week has been a particularly poignant one,” he said.

Mr. Campbell reflected on how last week’s murder occurred almost 25 years to the day since a young RUC officer, Gregory Pollock, was murdered in the Waterside. He was 23 when he was blown up in an IRA mortar attack on Spencer Road on, April 20, 1994, a few months before the first ceasefire that was the beginning of the end of the conflict.

“It marks 25 years since Alan Smith and John McCloy were shot dead in Garvagh in my constituency. Constable Gregory Pollock was murdered by a mortar in Londonderry - he was the final policeman to be killed before the ceasefires were called - and his grave was desecrated for several years after his murder.

“Does the Secretary of State agree that not just in April but in every month we must all stand against terror and murder, from wherever it comes, by whomsoever it is carried out and wherever it has occurred or does occur, so that we can deliver a better future for our people?” asked Mr. Campbell.

The Secretary of State Karen Bradley replied: “The images of him in the Creggan estate on Friday - a boy from Londonderry, as he said - standing rock solid in solidarity with all parts of the community to condemn what happened were incredibly moving and important.

“Those images demonstrate more powerfully than many images could just how the people of NI do not want to go backwards and want to stand firm together against the terrorists.”