A PROTEST which took place while Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, was giving an address at Lumen Christi school in Londonderryas part of the ‘Bright Brand New Day’ cross-community initiative, resulted in a petrol bomb striking the home of an elderly couple.
Those attending the event were unaffected by the incident, but fire crews were called to the scene to quell the small blaze.
Police have appealed for information about Wednesday night’s attack on the pensioners’ home. A PSNI spokesman said at around 9pm, a petrol bomb was thrown which struck an elderly couple’s property and set guttering on fire. They said minor damage was caused and no one was injured.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information is asked to contact Police at Strand Road or Crimestoppers.
The petrol bomb attack followed a protest by the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, who claimed the PSNI were “heavy handed” and pushed protesters back.
Speaking on Thursday, two people who were among those to attend the event told the Londonderry Sentinelthey had both been ‘unaware’ that there was any disturbance outside the event.
One of them, a band member, said it had been a “significant invitation” for the Hamilton Band, who played music at the Bright Bright New Day event: “It is the first time that I am aware of that the Hamilton Band played in Lumen Christi, and we received a huge standing ovation when we finished playing. It was amazing,” he said, adding: “I was unaware when I was inside the school that there was anything going on outside. If there was a disturbance it had no impact on what went on inside.”
A woman who attended the event said she, too, had been unaware that a protest had taken place.
“We heard nothing inside, but when we came out there were a few people milling about,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rev Dr David Latimer, who organised the event, said: “A large and very representative crowd, from both sides of the Foyle, converged on Lumen Christi College on Wednesday evening to listen to a conversation with PSNI Chief Conctable, Matt Baggott entitled, ‘The Human Face Of Policing.’
“Mr Baggott was interviewed by Catherine Cooke, Foyle Information Women’s Network, and Eamonn Deane, of the Holywell Trust. This event is part of the Bright Brand New Day Peace Building Initiative, which is designed to envision and empower the citizens of Derry/Londonderry to contemplate becoming friends and neighbours and thereby contribute to shaping a safer and more secure future for everyone. The Assistant Commissioner of the Garda Siochana was unable to be present, due to the sudden hospitalisation of his wife,” Dr Latimer said.
“A superb range of music was provided by the Hamilton Flute Band and the Lumen Jazz Ensemble. The Foyle Civic Youth Choir directed by Donal Doherty, which comprises a host of talented students from a range of Colleges across the city, sang magnificently. Sandra Biddle and a group of performers introduced the musical Annie, which aspires to secure a Guinness Book of Records entry and in the process raise funds for the Foyle Hospice,” he said.
The event was chaired by Dr Latimer, Minister of First Derry, and Father Frank Bradley, from Lumen Christi.
Following the event supper was provided in the College Refectory.
“While it is true that few have the greatness to bend history itself, each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total of these acts will be written the history of this generation,” Dr Latimer said.
Condemning the petrol bomb attack SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said: “It is a disgrace that this elderly couple and their neighbours were put through such distress and disruption. Those responsible were out to cause damage and their contemptible actions only show they have an utter disregard for the many people wholive nearby. No-one, especially elderly citizens, should be subjected to such anxiety and strain.”