You don't qualify as a patriot if you cause pointless pain to your compatriots, Bishop tells peace rally

Bishop Dnal McKeown.
Bishop Dnal McKeown.

The Bishop of Derry, Dónal McKeown, observed that you can't be a patriot if you inflict misery on your fellow countrywomen and men with no apparent purpose or end.

Speaking at a peace rally at Butcher Gate he said: "You cannot claim to love your country and at the same time cause pain and destruction to the people who live there."

He added: "Nothing can be built with petrol bombs or stones thrown in anger."

Bishop McKeown, whilst counselling against the use of violence, refused to condemn the young people involved in the disturbances, and said Derry's civil leaders needed to show all citizens that there is a bright future for them in their native city.

"Tonight we have gathered, not to condemn anyone, but to build bridges.

"We want a city where everyone feels they have a future. We have lost too many people because they had lost hope in the future.

"We believe that we have the human resources to create a community where all our fellow citizens feel included.

"We believe that everyone here has something unique and valuable to contribute to a better future."

A statement read out on behalf of local residents and youth leaders was unambiguous.

"The residents of the Bogside have a proud history of supporting one another through the darkest days of our recent past," it read.

"The people of the Fountain, our neighbours, our brothers and sisters deserve to live in peace also. Sectarianism is wrong.

"In recent weeks, the residents of the local area around the Lecky Road have been subjected to nightly scenes of anti-social behaviour, including on-street drinking, burning tyres and other materials, intimidation of residents, rioting and noise going on to the early hours of the morning."

The residents' statement noted the deterioration of the situation as the week progressed.

"At the beginning it was our opinion that none of this was motivated by politics or organised by any political grouping - rather much of it has been fuelled by alcohol and drugs.

"In some cases, people have come from other parts of the Derry either to involve themselves in these activities or to spectate.

"It is now quite clear that is no longer the case. Stones have moved to petrol bombs, petrol bombs to blast bombs and live shots in the midst of all of this.

'The PSNI respond with raids arrests and most dangerously plastic bullets. This must stop and stop now."