Police seek men over Peace Bridge vandalism

The scene at the opening of the new Peace Bridge on Saturday. INLS2611-137KM
The scene at the opening of the new Peace Bridge on Saturday. INLS2611-137KM

Police are anxious to speak to these two men in connection with a vandalism attack on Derry’s new Peace Bridge.

The PSNI have published the images as part of an investigation into the shattering of glass panels and damaging life-saving equipment on the crossing. In recent weeks officers have been examining CCTV footage showing people smashing two re-enforced glass safety panels and removing two lifebelts and ropes from the bridge in July.

Derry’s Area Commander, Inspector Jon Burrows, warned that images of other individuals are also being examined and may be published at a later date. “The penny needs to drop - those who commit crime on the Peace Bridge will be pursued - there is excellent CCTV footage on the bridge and we will strive relentlessly to bring to justice those who commit crime on the bridge.”

Sergeant Sam Young, of the City Centre Neighbourhood Police Team, said that persons tampering with life preservers are “putting lives at risk”. He called on anyone witnessing such activity or who can identify the men pictured to contact police as soon as possible.

He added: “The bridge is viewed by many as a shared space within the city centre where people should be able to go without having to witness the bad behaviour of a tiny minority or feel threatened by persons damaging what has become an iconic symbol to many.”

Since it was opened in June the Peace Bridge has become a major attraction for visitors to the city. It’s been suggested by some in the city that visitors are heading to Derry specifically to cross the Foyle on the new £14m structure.

Brenda Fraser, Director of Development at Ilex, said public reaction to the Peace Bridge “has exceeded all expectation”. “Since it opened on June 25 tens of thousands of people have walked and cycled across it for the first time and already local people feel a strong sense of ownership,” she said.

Ms Fraser added: “The bridge was built to provide new shared space for everyone and it’s important that people feel safe on it, day and night. To that end, CCTV cameras are installed along it, ensuring that all of us can enjoy it in safety and comfort. The cameras should also serve as a deterrent for anyone thinking of engaging in anti-social behaviour.”

Paddy Wilson, of Foyle Search and Rescue, has consistently warned of the dangers of removing life saving equipment from the riverside and bridges.

“You don’t hear of people going to Altnagelvin hospital and wrecking life support machines which is effectively the same thing as removing lifebelts.” He said that in the majority of cases drunken yobs are responsible for removing lifebelts and “throwing them into the river for fun”. Anyone who believes they can identify the men pictured is urged to contact police at Strand Road on 0845 600 8000 or via email at foylecitycentre@psni.pnn.police.uk.