Northern Ireland news

Police defend response to public disorder following Caoimhin Cassidy funeral

Seamus McKinney

POLICE have defended their handling of a series of incidents that followed the funeral of a teenager Caoimhin Cassidy.

Mr Cassidy’s body was found inside a burning stolen car in Derry’s Galliagh area on Saturday June 1.

As the 18-year-old’s funeral was leaving St Mary’s Church in Creggan last Friday, there were a number of ant-social incidents including youths speeding in a car at a roundabout near the church and performing handbrake turns.

Following the funeral a number of fights broke out among teenagers who appeared to be drunk or high on drugs.

Séan Dolans GAA club in Creggan suspended a game for one of its underage teams in the wake of the trouble saying the safety of its players was paramount.

Police believe a paramilitary style assault and an attack on a house are linked to a car being driven erratically following the funeral.

The PSNI's handling of events was criticised by community and political leaders in Creggan. Community worker George McGowan police needed to address how they handled the situation.

"I did not see any police response at all in Creggan, there are questions that need answers," he said.

Independent councillor for the area Gary Donnelly also criticised the police response.

However, PSNI chief inspector, Johnny Hunter said the police operation was restricted to the periphery of the Creggan area.

“We had to balance the fact that there is a funeral ongoing but we also have to think about what the consequences of our actions are or what they could be.”

The PSNI officer said police were aware of concerns surrounding Mr Cassidy’s funeral. Mr Hunter said police used their professional judgement not to get involved in a pursuit of a car as a funeral was coming to an end.

Mr Hunter’s remarks came as police issued a new appeal for information about the incident which led to Mr Cassidy's death.

Detective Inspector Michael Winters said police were keen to trace a number of youths they believe were with the teenager before he was killed.

“We’ve received a report of two males running away from where the vehicle came to a final halt on Fairview Road, near Knockalla Park, heading in the direction of Ferndale,” he said.

Mr Winters said police also wanted to trace a man who was possibly injured and was seen walking at Buncrana Road towards the border a short time later.

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