Petrol bomb attacks ‘attempt to kill PSNI officers’

Police have been hit with petrol bombs and projectiles at an illegal dissident republican march in Londonderry.''Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Police have been hit with petrol bombs and projectiles at an illegal dissident republican march in Londonderry.''Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Petrol bombs thrown at PSNI vehicles during an illegal dissident republican parade in Londonderry were “attempts to maim or kill” officers, the NI Police Federation has said.

Stones and various other missiles were also directed at police as around 200 people attended the 1916 Easter Rising commemoration in the Creggan estate yesterday afternoon.

Federation chairman Mark Lindsay described the violence as “appalling and disgraceful”.

He said: “Anyone who throws petrol bombs at police vehicles or individual officers is out to cause maximum physical harm. They want to maim or kill officers. That’s the stark reality of their actions.”

Mr Lindsay said the dissidents behind the attacks will not succeed in causing mayhem, and added: “They only know how to wreck and undermine. They are bankrupt thugs with nothing but misery to offer a community. They cling desperately to a past, unwilling to recognise the gains that have been made and unwilling to imagine a better future for the entire community.

“There was orchestration behind this unrest with young people being manipulated by older and sinister ‘puppet-masters’. They are brainwashing these youths into believing that violence is the only way forward and, of course, it isn’t.”

Yesterday’s parade was led by masked men in paramiltary-style uniforms. A senior PSNI officer said video footage of the attacks will be examined in an effort to bring those responsible before the courts.

Foyle MLA Gary Middleton also condemned those behind the violence.

“Nobody has a desire to see the violence on display today, except for barbaric thugs intent on endangering life and property,” he said.

Mr Middleton described the “glorification of terrorism” at the parade as “abhorrent,” and added: “I hope the actions of all involved are investigated and those responsible feel the full weight of the law.”

Chief Inspector Ivor Morton said the parade organisers had declined PSNI attempts to engage in discussions ahead of the commemoration.

“Police will review all video footage collected today and will robustly pursue all possible enquiries to identify those involved and bring them before the courts.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “While calling for the PSNI to take robust retrospective action against the organisers of this illegal parade and those in paramilitary uniforms, I also call on the judiciary to set a penalty that fits the crime.

“I also call on parents – in all communities in Northern Ireland – to ensure that their children are not getting sucked into this type of activity to face the consequences, whilst the men who organised it sit safely in the local pub, drinking beer and making hollow boasts.”

On Monday night Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill tweeted: “Everyone has a right to remember their dead in a respectful & dignified way. Scenes from Derry today are very disturbing. Masked individuals, causing disturbance, youths throwing petrol bombs etc is far from dignified. Those responsible should be brought before the law.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also used social media to condemn the petrol bombers and rioters. He said: “Disgraceful scenes in Creggan today. What does any of that achieve apart from ensuring that more young people end up getting criminal records.”

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said “illegal parades involving masked men aimed at glamorising the past can never be tolerated”.

There are no reports of anyone having been injured or arrested as a result of the disorder.

At the same time as the violence erupted in Londonderry, a major Apprentice Boys of Derry parade in Antrim town passed off without incident.