Londonderry riot children’s parents ‘must take responsibility’

The picturesque green area at Bishop's Gate, between Londonderry's Fountain Estate and the Bishop Street interface.
The picturesque green area at Bishop's Gate, between Londonderry's Fountain Estate and the Bishop Street interface.

Parents must exercise responsibility over their children, a top PSNI officer said last night after two youths were arrested for involvement in disturbances in Londonderry.

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said that petrol bombs, paint bombs and bricks were thrown towards the mainly Protestant Fountain estate on Sunday and Monday nights.

Two youths, aged 13 and 14, were arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour in the area on Sunday.

They have been released on police bail and reported to social services.

Chief Insp Burrows told the News Letter that he understood between 10 and 12 children were involved in the disorder, and added that CCTV tapes from the incident are being examined.

In a direct message to parents, he said: “Some children are being sold short by their parents, there are clearly parents who are not exercising parental responsibility and they share a huge degree of the responsibility whenever children’s lives are ruined.

“I am squarely saying parenting is a major role here. Most parents and young people are good but there are clearly some parents who do not care about their children.”

The night prior to the arrests, two alleged dissident republicans were arrested after graffiti appeared on the city’s walls. On Sunday, a Bloody Sunday commemoration was held.

Last night, deputy mayor Gary Middleton said tensions had been escalating prior to the petrol bomb attacks.

“I have no doubt it was dissidents,” he said.

“The same crowd are putting these young people up to it, yet they remain in the background like cowards.

“But when these younger people are caught, it is their lives that are ruined.”

Mr Middleton, a DUP councillor, added that he thought it was “sad that a 10-year-old child would have access to petrol bombs”.

“Their parents must take some responsibility,” he added.

His DUP colleague, Gregory Campbell MP, agreed on the parental issue, but added that “questions must also be asked about the level of security provided to residents of the Fountain when this small estate can be attacked with such alarming ease and regularity”.

When asked about the alleged dissident republican involvement, Chief Insp Burrows said: “That is a familiar tale, but not something I can say factually on this occasion.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted: “Disgraceful that children as young as ten involved in attacks on our neighbours in the Fountain estate, Derry. Parental control essential.”