Londonderry bonfire bomb attack branded ‘madness’

Police seal off Barrack Street, Charlotte Street and the top of the Lecky Road flyover following the discovery of the device. Photo: Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com
Police seal off Barrack Street, Charlotte Street and the top of the Lecky Road flyover following the discovery of the device. Photo: Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

A pipe bomb attack on police close to a controversial nationalist bonfire has been widely condemned.

The device was thrown at officers on patrol near the Lecky Road flyover in Londonderry on Monday night.

A number of homes were evacuated as a result of the security operation that followed.

The six-metre high bonfire had been built in the middle of the Bogside’s Lecky Road, partially blocking the roadway.

PSNI district commander Mark McEwan said: “We are investigating all offences committed at the bonfire in the Bogside last night including a serious incident where a viable pipe bomb-type device was thrown at a police patrol.”

Sinn Fein election posters and Union flags were burned on the fire.

An attempt to move the bonfire material from the middle of the road had failed and Mr McEwan said police were just one part of a multi-agency approach to resolving issues around bonfires.

Foyle DUP Assembly member Gary Middleton said the bomber had put dozens of lives at risk.

“Those who constructed and threw this device are terrorists who clearly have no regard for the lives of anyone in the city.”

He added: “We have witnessed too many occasions where such terrorists have held this city to ransom and we must demonstrate that such violence and threat cannot be part of our society.”

Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay described the bomb attack as “an act of madness”.

Mr Lindsay said: “Lives were needlessly disrupted and put at risk. A local community was left traumatised and in the end, nothing was achieved by this act of madness. Officers were once again targeted by dissident republicans, but that won’t deter them from doing their job in a professional manner.”

Sinn Fein Stormont assembly member Raymond McCartney blamed dissident republicans.

“This situation was dictated by a tiny group of young people who are being exploited by more sinister elements who are clearly determined to act against the wishes of the local community.”

He said the scenes around the bonfire were in stark contrast with the excellent finale to this year’s Feile which showed the positive community spirit of the people in the area who want nothing to do with the bonfire.

“There was an opportunity to avoid all of these problems through dialogue. Unfortunately that failed because people absented themselves from that process or effectively scuppered it by acting as cheerleaders for anti-community behaviour.”