Politicians condemn scenes of disorder following dissident Easter parade in Derry

A van was set alight in Londonderry on Monday. Credit: Press Eye

Stormont politicians have condemned disorder in Londonderry which followed a dissident parade to mark the anniversary of the Easter Rising.

The march took place in the Creggan area on Monday.

While the main event passed off without major incident, petrol bombs were later thrown at members of the media and a van was set alight.

Police said they saw evidence of petrol bombs being prepared by young people prior to the parade.

Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon described the scenes as "disgraceful" and urged youths not to be involved in "acts of anti-social behaviour, which can also affect their whole future".

She said: “Across the island this weekend, people have turned out in large numbers to celebrate and commemorate Ireland’s patriot dead.

“The vast majority of these commemorations were conducted with dignity and respect.

“Scenes of disorder and petrol bombs thrown in Derry, including at members of the media, today are disgraceful, unacceptable and have no place in our society."

The PSNI said the petrol bombs which were prepared ahead of the parade would have been used to attack police "had the opportunity arose".

In a social media post, Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said: "The huge, huge majority of Northern Ireland reject this, and the attempts to lure our police officers into the situation to be attacked and be subjected to violence.

"This is not our future, we stand united against this. Our future is of hope. That is what we will build."

Alliance MLA Sian Mulholland said: “Children deserve to be protected, nurtured, and positively guided in life, not coerced or manipulated into engaging in harmful behaviour that could have a life-long impact on their futures.

“The violence we’ve seen unfold in Derry-Londonderry is utterly reprehensible and should be condemned by all in the strongest possible terms.

"Those responsible strive to achieve nothing other than causing destruction and misery for the local community."

Alderman Darren Guy of the UUP said "bully boy criminals" were "using coercive control" to orchestrate the disorder.

"If you have any evidence as to who these criminals are, then I would urge you to report confidentially to the PSNI any information you may have," he added.

Condemning the scenes, SDLP leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood said: “This is the last thing that our community wants or needs.

“The kids being whipped up into throwing petrol bombs at journalists and the police are putting their own lives and futures at risk as well as the safety of others.

“Those responsible for this only want to drag us back. They have nothing to offer the people of this city and they need to understand that we all want a better future."

Police said it was "incredibly sad and really disheartening" to see young people involved in the scenes.

A statement said: “Police received an 11/1 on Saturday 30th March in relation only to an event in the City Cemetery in Creggan this afternoon, 1st April.

"This did not include notification of a parade from Central Drive to the City Cemetery in Creggan this afternoon.

“Police engaged with the event organiser and, on the day, issued several warnings from a drone to make participants aware they would be taking part in an un-notified parade on Central Drive.

“Despite several warnings, participants proceeded along Central Drive and into the City Cemetery."

The statement continued: “Sadly, we saw evidence of petrol bombs being prepared by young people prior to the parade.

"These youths were also involved in the parade along Central Drive. It is our assessment these would have been used to attack police had the opportunity arose.

"It’s incredibly sad, and really disheartening to see young people, including children, involved in this. Using young people in this way, risking their safety and encouraging them to engage in criminality is reprehensible.

“A local person’s van was set on fire for no reason, just next to a local community hall on Central Drive in Creggan, while a number of petrol bombs were also thrown in the area.

"The fire has been dealt with by NIFRS and those involved throwing the petrol bombs have dispersed.

“Today’s parade was un-notified and, therefore an investigation, has commenced into what occurred as well as the other incidents which serve only to damage the local community.

“Footage obtained from our evidence gathering operation today will be reviewed as part of an investigation into a breach of the Public Processions Act and offences Under the Terrorism Act 2000."

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