Video: Tánaiste to visit Derry to express solidarity with those affected by week of violence

The Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, intends visiting Derry next week to express solidarity with the communities of the Bogside and Fountain who have been plagued by six consecutive nights of violence this week.

Mr. Coveney said it was important the sounds of gunfire and blast bombs did not become normative on the streets of Derry and praised the police, emergency services and political and community leaders for their response to the recent violence.

Simon Coveney.

Simon Coveney.

"We do not want to get used to hearing news of pipe bombs and automatic weapons in Northern Ireland again. I thank the emergency services, the PSNI and the Northern Ireland fire service. They have come under significant pressure in recent days. That there has been no loss of life and no serious injury to date is testament to their professionalism," he said.

The Tánaiste confirmed her would be visiting the city in the near future to discuss the situation.

"I also thank the political and community leaders who have shown courage and bravery in the face of some intimidation, particularly in the Bogside interface area and the Fountain estate. I recognise and thank those in this House who have played a role in that.

"I hope to be able to visit Derry in the next ten days or so to express solidarity with those who are continuing to work and have achieved great things in community relations in recent years to ensure that Derry can fulfil its full potential as a vibrant and safe city in which communities interact with each other with maturity and a sense of honesty and togetherness.

"We need to be firm, clear and totally unambiguous on the need to support non-sectarian co-operation to ensure that those who are small in number but are causing mayhem get a very clear message that they do not have the support of broader communities within which they are living," he said.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald laid the blame for the violence on an anti-democratic minority, which, she said, had no mandate and no support.

"There are those who want to drag us back into conflict, those who want to maintain community division. They can be seen on the streets of Derry and on the streets of east Belfast. They cannot and will not prevail.

"I know Derry. The actions of the antisocial criminal elements that have roved the streets of the Maiden City do not represent Derry," she said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed that the political vacuum at Stormont was not helping matters.

"The attempted murder of a police officer in Derry, the throwing of 20 petrol bombs and the attacks on the small Protestant community in the Fountain area of the city show a deliberate escalation of sectarian violence.

"Fianna Fáil strongly welcomes and supports the joint statement signed by six Assembly parties yesterday condemning the violence of recent days and the call for full co-operation with the police. It showed that there is cross-community opposition to the tiny minority trying to destabilise Northern Ireland and undermine progress.

"I hope those parties, especially the largest two parties, understand the obvious fact that these concerning developments are being enabled by the ongoing political vacuum in Northern Ireland," he said.