An episode of joyriding in Creggan took place outside the home of a family who had laid their father to rest just a short time earlier, according to a local councillor.
Councillor Gary Donnelly has hit out at what he said were ‘disgraceful scenes’ during ‘episodes’ of joyriding around Creggan on Friday.
It led to substantial disruption in the area, with delivery drivers refusing to deliver, care workers being informed they should go home early and schools texting parents to inform them children must be accompanied home from school. It is understood that the City Cemetery also closed early due to concerns.
Councillor Donnelly said the ‘disgusting’ incidents had caused ‘considerable anger’ within the community.
“They had no respect for the local community or a grieving family and it was disgraceful,” he said.
He added that the disruption had been forecast on social media ‘but was seemed to be allowed to go ahead’ and said it was the local community, not the PSNI who moved the culprits on. He added that the majority of them were believed to be from Belfast.
‘The PSNI didn’t come into Creggan until everyone had left, which was ineffective. But that’s what Creggan has come to expect. It was left to the local community to move them on.”
He added how, in his opinion, social media posts also escalated concerns.
‘While there were serious incidents and businesses said they were in fear for their staff, I do think that social media played a part in causing a lot of hysteria.
He continued: ‘In an area saturated on a daily basis with stop and search, the PSNI were very conspicuous by their absence.’
The PSNI did not respond directly to Councillor Donnelly’s claims, but in a statement confirming they were investigating several incidents, District Commander, Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said: “I want to reassure people that police in this city routinely work closely and engage with public and political representatives to ensure we do everything we can to keep people safe.
“As we head further into the weekend, I would appeal to leaders in the community to use their influence to do what they can to ensure our streets are calm and our people stay safe.
“I would also urge any young people who may tempted to get caught up in antisocial behaviour to think twice about their actions which could have serious consequences and a long lasting impact.
“The community can be reassured as the weekend continues we will have a proportionate and appropriate policing response in place and will do all we can to ensure the safety of the people in this city.”