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McGuinness claims dissidents manipulated petrol bomb attacks

Roisín Barton of Dove House with Martin McGuinness during a rally at the Bogside community centre in Derry on Friday after the centre was attacked again overnight. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin.
Seamus McKinney

MARTIN McGuinness has claimed dissident republicans are 'manipulating' youths behind a second petrol bomb attack on a Bogside community resource centre.

The Sinn Féin deputy first minister was speaking after a rally in support of staff at Dove House community centre yesterday afternoon.

Extensive damage was caused to the centre which is just yards from the scene of a controversial bonfire on Derry’s Lecky Road. On the night after the bonfire on Monday, a petrol bomb and paint bombs were thrown at the centre.

Politicians including Sinn Féin and SDLP representatives took part in the brief rally yesterday.

Dove House chairwoman Roisín Barton said staff at the centre - which has been in operation for the past 30 years - had been pivotal in helping the community.

Speaking after the rally Mr McGuinness said: “They need to get their act together; their parents need to get their act together. The vast majority of young people in this area are absolutely brilliant, tremendous.

“But we do have within our society a tiny number of young people who, I have to say, I feel are on occasions being manipulated by others, dissident-type elements who have been corrupting these young people’s minds over the course of the last number of years.”

Mr McGuinness said he had no doubt there was a link between this week’s attacks and opposition to Monday night’s bonfire.

“The people who tried to burn Dove House down over the last two days were the people who erected the bonfire just a few yards from where we are standing now.”

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