Council to write to Derry and Sion Mill bomb victims though independent criticizes ‘selective condemnation’

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Derry City and Strabane District Council is sending solidarity letters to the victims of bomb attacks in Derry and Sion Mills last week.

The Mayor, Hilary McClintock, described the attacks - one of which targeted a serving police officer in Ardanlee - as despicable.

“These are despicable acts which endangered the lives of innocent people who simply go about their everyday routine,” said the Mayor.

SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins said the Culmore incident caused major inconvenience with an exclusion cordon in place for a whole day.

“I’ve just been notified that the exclusion zone has been lifted. This is after 24 hours. It’s just not acceptable,” she said, during Thursday’s meeting.

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan echoed this, stating: “It was just a terrible situation people faced, especially in the morning with children having to go to school.”

Independent unionist Maurice Devenney said: “A very clear message has to come that we stand behind the people who protect the community.”

Describing the bombers as “cowards”, he said: “It should be unanimously condemned from this chamber from one end to the other.”

It wasn’t, however,

Independent Gary Donnelly accused other councillors of engaging in “selective condemnation”.

Councillor Donnelly claimed recent attacks from within loyalism had not been condemned and that he found the “hypocrisy breath-taking”.

He said Sinn Féin regularly commemorated IRA volunteers involved in attacks on police officers and accused unionists of supporting British military campaigns.

“None of your hands are clean,” said Councillor Donnelly.

This drew an angry response from DUP Alderman Drew Thompson, who said: “I take great exception to the comment, ‘none of us have our hands clean’. Councillor Donnelly needs to think very clearly. State who you are taking about.”

UUP Alderman Derek Hussey echoed this, stating: “I fail to understand how he can make these comments” and asking that Councillor Donnelly’s “none of your hands are clean” comments to be excised from the council minutes..

Sinn Féin Councillor Maolíosa McHugh questioned the timing of the attacks.

“These incidents may be related to the fact that we are coming into an election,” he said.

“We are at a point in time we realise there are other ways of achieving our objectives,” he added.

A proposal by Councilllor Dobbins that the local authority send letters of solidarity to both bomb victims was supported by 34 councillors in attendance.

Independent councillors, Gary Donnelly, Paul Gallagher, Darren O’Reilly and Warren Robinson, all abstained.