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Youths throw petrol bombs at a PSNI vehicle in the Creggan area of Derry on Easter Monday. Alamy Stock Photo

Derry's police chief appeals for calm after petrol bomb attack on officers at dissident march

A number of missiles were thrown by youths at a PSNI Land Rover monitoring the parade in the Creggan area on Easter Monday.

THE CHIEF OF police in Derry has appealed for calm as scenes of violence against PSNI during a dissident parade have been condemned by politicians across Ireland.

A number of missiles were hurled by young people at a PSNI Land Rover monitoring the parade in the Creggan area of the city on Easter Monday.

The parade, organised by the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee, started in the Central Drive area when a number of masked men in paramilitary-style dress formed a colour party carrying the Irish flag and a host of republican flags.

As the parade progressed towards the City Cemetery, the police Land Rover came under attack, with masked youths throwing petrol bombs and firing fireworks before it drove off in flames.

The parade culminated at the republican plot in the cemetery, where speeches were heard.

One speaker described the event as “respectful and dignified, paying homage to the revolutionary heroes of 1916 and all the republican dead”.

Derry City and Strabane area commander, Chief Superintendent Nigel Goddard, said: “What we saw develop this afternoon in Creggan was incredibly disheartening.

“As the parade was unnotified, police were in attendance with a proportionate policing operation.

“Sadly, before the parade even started, we observed young people in the vicinity making petrol bombs to throw at police.

“Shortly after the parade commenced, petrol bombs and other objects were thrown at one of our vehicles at the junction of Iniscarn Road and Linsfort Drive.

This was a senseless and reckless attack on our officers who were in attendance in the area in order to comply with our legal duties.

“As participants at the parade made their way out of the City Cemetery, they removed their paramilitary uniforms under the cover of umbrellas and burnt them.

“Organisers of this parade communicated in advance their desire to have a respectful and dignified event, however, that is not what we witnessed today.

“There can be no place for this type of criminal activity. It is not wanted nor welcomed by the vast majority of people across the city.

“During today’s policing operation, we deployed evidence-gathering resources, and obtained footage which will now be reviewed as part of an investigation into potential offences under the Terrorism Act 2000.


“As we head into this evening, we would appeal for calm, and welcome support from those with influence to help prevent any further disorder in the city this evening.”

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill described the violent scenes as “deplorable”.

She added: “Twenty-five years on from the Good Friday Agreement this needless street disorder in Derry has no place in our society.

“As political leaders we must stand united, appealing to all those concerned to end these attacks and refrain from further threats of violence, whether in Derry or North Down.

“This type of illegal and anti-community activity is deplorable and out of step from wider community and public opinion.

“Our focus is on the future and on the future of our young. This society is moving forward and peace and stability will prevail.”

youths-throw-petrol-bombs-at-bin-to-block-a-street-in-the-creggan-area-of-londonderry-on-easter-monday-following-a-dissident-republican-parade-authorities-have-increased-security-measures-in-respons Youths throw petrol bombs at bin to block a street in the Creggan area of Derry. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said he hoped the situation would quickly calm down.

“It is very, very disappointing that people have gone ahead with a march that has not been notified to the police,” he told the BBC.

“Hopefully it will calm down very quickly and the police can get about their business because they are there to protect all communities across Northern Ireland.”

The clashes come as Northern Ireland is preparing for a visit from US President Joe Biden.

Asked about the matter during a press briefing, a White House spokesman said US President Joe Biden is “more than comfortable” visiting Northern Ireland despite the recent violence.

Kirby said: “As for security concerns, you know we don’t ever talk about security requirements of protecting the President but the President is more than comfortable making this trip and he’s very excited to do it.”

He said Biden is grateful for the work Northern Ireland’s security forces have done and “continue to do to protect all communities”.

‘Senseless violence’

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said the “senseless violence” is the last thing the people of Derry want to see.

“It was wrong 25 years ago and it is wrong now,” he said.

“The saddest part of this spectacle is that young people with no memory or experience of the violence of our past are being manipulated and abused by people with no vision for the future.

Those whipping our kids into a frenzy and sending them out to attack the police have nothing to offer the people of Derry and this city will continue to reject them.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton tweeted: “Another clearly coordinated attack on the PSNI.

“The parade was illegal from the outset. This reckless behaviour is an attempt to cause harm not only to PSNI officers but to our communities as well. There must be swift action to bring those responsible to justice.”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said: “Absolute wasters. Sent out to riot by men sitting in pubs acting the big lads.”

Alliance Party MLA Kellie Armstrong tweeted: “Disgraceful. The actions of some who want to drag NI back to dark days is abhorrent.”

Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney also tweeted his support for the PSNI.

“So called dissident republicans have nothing to offer our society, north or south,” he said.

“A tiny minority of thugs seeking headlines, wanting to take Northern Ireland backwards.”

Last week, senior police warned of the potential for disorder at the event.

Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said the force received “strong” intelligence that dissidents were planning to launch terror attacks against officers on the bank holiday.

Police increased security measures in response to the parade.

Groups marched in west Belfast and other areas in Northern Ireland across the Easter weekend as part of an annual public marking of the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising against the then-British rule across the island of Ireland.

Most parades were lawful and passed without incident.

However, police are investigating a masked colour party which led a parade in Falls Road in west Belfast organised by the Irish Republican Socialist Party on Sunday.

Parade participants were issued with warnings and footage was gathered by police, who will review it as part of an investigation into potential terrorism offences.

Press Association