‘You are fighting the wrong war’

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A Derry woman whose parents were among those targeted in a series of hoax bomb attacks this week, has said those responsible should be fighting a war against poverty and not pensioners.

Kathleen Bradley spoke out after a third security alert in the Lone Moor Road area yesterday, following on from other attacks at Drumleck Drive in Shantallow and Inishowen Gardens in Creggan.

The elaborate devices were used to target relatives of PSNI officers, in actions which have been blamed on dissident republicans and which have been widely condemned.

The families affected, and their neighbours, had to be evacuated in all three areas while the devices were examined. Residents of Lone Moor Road were allowed to return home yesterday evening.

Kathleen Bradley - who works in the community advice sector and whose father Liam is a former Deputy Mayor of Derry - said the culprits were planting a bomb on her parents’ doorstep as she was at the Housing Executive assisting a homeless woman.

Ms. Bradley said such attacks would only serve to justify additional funding towards security resources - money that could be used to help address social issues. “The biggest problem affecting people is poverty, deprivation, health waiting lists, homelessness,” she said. “I understand there are people within society who are focused on ‘Get the Brits Out’, but acts like this only further substantiate the PSNI’s claims that they need more money. These actions justify that.”

Ms. Bradley added: “My father dedicated his life through politics to helping people with housing and trying to get employment, and the people who left this device probably aren’t even old enough to know about what my father was trying to do then; the same as what I am trying to do now.

“The fight here is against poverty and those behind this have not done our community any justice.

“The question I would ask them is, what is your end goal? To intimidate and harass pensioners? People who have done their bit; reared their children and tried to help the community? They should be allowed to live in peace. These are members of the community, people struggling with the same problems as everybody else.

“The energies of those behind this would be more valued organising a protest against benefit cuts or older people having to wait for hip replacements. They are fighting the wrong war. The war here is against poverty.”

On Wednesday morning, a device was found at the home of another PSNI officer’s parents at Drumleck Drive. Councillors spoke of how elderly neighbours had to be helped to dress before being evacuated.

Another suspicious device was found at Inishowen Gardens in Creggan at around 11.30 pm on Wednesday night. Several streets were closed and homes evacuated while the object was examined by ATO. Residents were eventually allowed to return home shortly after 5am.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said: “This is another disgraceful attack on a family and the community in Derry. Those responsible need to get a grip and get off our backs.”

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has slammed those behind the attacks. Speaking about the incident at Lone Moor Road, Mr. McCartney said it had caused “untold stress and upset to those directly affected, and resulted in major disruption in the local community.

“This is a main arterial route through the city. It is within yards of the gates of the City Cemetery which will cause upset for anyone trying to visit a family grave in the cemetery or attending a funeral. Those responsible need to get off the backs of the people of this city. All they are doing is causing upset to all those caught in all this madness.”

Police Federation NI Chair, Mark Lindsay, branded the attacks “reprehensible and cowardly.”

“The community has to turn its back on these dissident no-hopers and tell them bluntly to get off their backs,” he said.