Northern Ireland news

Councillor claims "sinister elements" behind Bogside attacks

Police came under attack in a third night of violence in Derry's Bogside
Seamus McKinney

A DERRY councillor has claimed “sinister elements” are encouraging vulnerable young people to take part in petrol bomb attacks on police in the city.

SDLP councillor John Boyle was responding after three nights of violence involving young people in the Bogside.

Police patrolling the city’s walls came under sustained attack on Monday when up to 40 people became involved in attacks.

Superintendent Gordon McCalmont said 24 petrol bombs and six paint bombs were thrown at police as well as bricks and other missiles during the disturbances which lasted from early evening into Tuesday morning. Superintendent McCalmont said a laser pen was also targeted on a PSNI helicopter, endangering the crew and local people.

The PSNI commander said: “This is the third night that the people of this city have had to put up with unwanted disorder and destruction. No-one wants to see these despicable scenes on our streets.”

Thes senior officer said he had no doubt that - while some of those involved were very young teenagers - the violence was orchestrated by older people. He said local young people were being used to attack police and symbolic sites around the city walls. It is thought he was referring to the headquarters of the Apprentice Boys.

“I would urge those young people to pull back from this behaviour and I would also ask those with influence within our community to use that influence positively and help dissuade young people from participating in public disorder,” he said.

Former SDLP mayor Mr Boyle said the violence of the last three nights was a “violation” of the wishes of the vast majority of Derry people.

“There is no justification for petrol bombs, paint bombs and attacks on police. Tensions have been running high over the course of the last few days and it’s important that we all work intensively to address that.

“There are sinister elements within this city manipulating, controlling and exploiting vulnerable young people. They have to be challenged by all of us,” he said.

Mr Boyle urged young people to think about the impact of their actions on their neighbours, their city and themselves.

“People in this city understand how riotous, anti-community activity can quickly turn to tragedy,” he said.

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