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13 July 2018

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Derry protest tonight against 'warped agenda' behind violence

"What we have witnessed here is a sustained and a calculated attack on the community of the Bogside, spilling into the Fountain and the whole of the city of Derry."

The people of Derry will take to the streets tonight to challenge what Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has described as the "warped, negative, regressive , and dangerous" agenda of those behind the disturbances that have occurred in the city's Bogside area in recent nights. 

A rally in solidarity with the local community will be held in the city tonight at 7pm, supported by a range of parties and organisations, at Fahan Street/Butcher Gate. 

It follows several nights of disturbances in the area which included a gun attack on PSNI officers, several blast bombs and dozens of petrol bombs. 

Some of those involved in the disturbances have been young children. 

The Sinn Féin leader encouraged as many people as possible to attend tonight's rally to show solidarity with the people of the Bogside and Fountain and to send a clear message that there is no support for the violence witnessed over the last week. 

Mary Lou McDonald made the comments in the Bogside this afternoon alongside Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill as they met with local residents and community leaders and ahead of a meeting with PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton, to discuss the violence. 

Mary Lou McDonald meeting community leaders in Derry.

Speaking to the media at the Gasyard Centre in the Bogside, Mary Lou McDonald said those behind the violence had a "warped agenda" and "cynical, calculated manipulation of young people." 

"What we have witnessed here is a sustained and a calculated attack on the community of the Bogside, spilling into the Fountain and the whole of the city of Derry," she said. 

"What we have seen here is a deliberate strategy by those who would style themselves as dissidents to misuse, mislead and manipulate children and to cause fear, hardship and anger across this community. 

"But they have also created a sense of determination, Because this is Derry and because the Bogside is the Bogside and the people here aren't having it. This is the city of Martin McGuinness, of John Hume, of civil rights, this is the maiden city, these are proud communities and this evening the people of the Bogside and beyond will come on to the street and stand shoulder to shoulder to face the thuggery, the criminality, the manipulation and the warped thinking of a small, small minority of people who would wish to cause damage here," the Sinn Féin leader added. 

Mary Lou McDonald also said the local community are angry and that what has happened is not a reflection of the vast majority of local people. 

"This is every reflection on warped, negative, regressive , dangerous people who think it is OK to manipulate young people and young children to throw petrol bombs and the like for an agenda that is nothing but a road to absolutely nowhere bar anger, fear and destruction," she explained. 

The Sinn Féin President also said the PSNI have a responsibility to keep people safe but laid the blame for the disturbances squarely on dissident groupings. 

"There is a sense in the community that the police need to do more, that there needs to be a more effective engagement but let me be clear about this, we will talk to George Hamilton about all of those things but be clear here who the instigator of this hardship is, let's be clear on that. That problem here emanates from so-called dissident elements who are behaving in a manner that no person could describe at any stage to be a republican behaviour," she said. 

She also called on those orchestrating the violence to listen to the voice of the local community and stop immediately. 

"The important thing is that they listen to the people of Derry because these street, this place is their home, this is where they have grown up, generation after generation, raised their kids, made good lives in what is a fantastic city often in very difficult circumstances and I tell you this, particularly the older residents, have said 'we are not having this, nobody every broke us and the dissidents and their sick approach will not break us either' so I hope they hear that, not from me, but from the people of the Bog." 

Poster for tonight's rally.

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