Gregory Campbell: ‘These violent dissidents simply won’t stop’

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Dissident republicans suspected of being responsible for a weekend car bomb are impervious to appeals to stop their violence, an MP has said.

The DUP’s Gregory Campbell was speaking as speculation linked the attack to today’s centenary of Ireland’s War of Indepedence.

Screengrab from CCTV footage dated 19/01/19 issued by the PSNI showing a car bomb exploding outside the court house on Bishop Street in Londonderry shortly after 8pm on Saturday.

Screengrab from CCTV footage dated 19/01/19 issued by the PSNI showing a car bomb exploding outside the court house on Bishop Street in Londonderry shortly after 8pm on Saturday.

Paramilitaries hijacked a pizza delivery vehicle, packed it with explosives and detonated it at Londonderry’s courthouse on Saturday night.

The PSNI suspects a group calling itself ‘the New IRA’.

Children at a church club and hotel guests were among the hundreds of people police shepherded away after a bomb threat was received.

There is speculation in Londonderry that the bomb may have been planted outside the courthouse to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Irish War of Independence, fought between January 21, 2019 and July 1921.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said this was “the most likely rationale” and “the one that’s getting most traction”.

He added: “This then begs the question for the group behind this, which is ‘would our great grandchildren then have to endure a 200th anniversary bomb in 100 years time’, because that is the logic of this nonsense.

“If they are going to plant a bomb to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the so-called War of Independence then will a subsequent group be doing the same in a hundred years time?

“The end result is going to be the same. I have said repeatedly, this type of action was tried to much greater effect, for much longer and carried out by many more people and it didn’t work, so I don’t know why these individuals think that it might work this time round because it won’t.”

Mr Campbell said it is “pointless” for politicians to make calls for the dissidents to end their campaign of violence, adding: “They simply won’t desist. These people don’t listen to calls from me or anyone else to stop.

“The more realistic call is for the entirety of the community to ensure they give whatever information they have to the police to ensure these people end up in the very place they planted the bomb beside.”

His party colleague, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton, said he too has heard speculation about the attack being linked to the anniversary of the Irish War of Independence.

“These people seem to cling on to any excuse that they can to carry out these sorts of acts and try to justify what they are doing,” he said. “But no matter what their reasons, there can be no justification for it.”

Urging people to support city centre businesses, he added: “A lot of work has been done by the tourism leaders in the city over the past decade and unfortunately this negative imagery is being portrayed across all media outlets.”

MP for Foyle, Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion, said: “This incident has shocked the local community. In particular, there are many elderly residents who live in the area who have been alarmed by this incident.”