Londonderry car bomb: Republican councillors refuse to condemn courthouse blast

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Independent republicans on Derry City and Strabane District council have declined to condemn a car bomb attack on Saturday.

There has been widespread condemnation of the attack from politicians in each of Northern Ireland’s largest political parties – the DUP, UUP, Alliance, the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

But the independent republican councillor Gary Donnelly, speaking to the News Letter, described “selective condemnation from politicians” as “nauseating”.

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Another independent republican councillor, Paul Gallagher, said the car bomb attacks “should be left in the past” but said he “deliberately” declined to offer condemnation.

The explosion happened outside the courthouse on Bishop Street in Londonderry on Saturday eveningThe explosion happened outside the courthouse on Bishop Street in Londonderry on Saturday evening
The explosion happened outside the courthouse on Bishop Street in Londonderry on Saturday evening

Five people arrested in connection with the attack, which has been linked by police to the grouping known as the ‘New IRA’, remained in custody on Monday evening.

There was a second explosion in the city on Monday afternoon following two security alerts in the Creggan area – but this time it was a controlled blast carried out by Army technical officers on a van that had been hijacked earlier.

Mr Donnelly said: “There’s selective condemnation from politicians. It’s hypocritical and it’s nauseating. It’s right across the board. They’ve all at some stage or other supported acts of violence.”

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Asked by the News Letter whether his lack of condemnation constituted support for Saturday’s car bomb attack, Mr Donnelly said: “Lack of condemnation should not be taken as condoning.”

He continued: “Some of the people who are shouting loudest about this are the very same people who (in the past) devised the car bomb and deployed it. They haven’t had a sudden Damascene conversion.

“They won’t condemn anything that they have done but they want everybody else to condemn what they want them to. I’m talking about people like Raymond McCartney and other members of Sinn Fein.”

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Mr McCartney, a former Provisional IRA hunger striker, wrote on Twitter yesterday: “The disruption in the lives of people in Creggan, Brandywell and Derry is totally unacceptable. Let those responsible explain why they are doing it.”

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Mr Donnelly said: “Raymond McCartney is being very deceitful because he knows exactly why these people did it, and it is exactly the same reason why the Provisionals did what they did.”

Sinn Fein have been asked to respond to Mr Donnelly’s comments.

Another independent councillor, Paul Gallagher, was also invited to condemn the car bomb attack.

“We thought these car bombs were a thing of the past and if you’re asking me, that’s where they should be,” he said. “They should be left in the past. A car bomb going off in the middle of Derry, in the vicinity of young people, doesn’t have any strategic value whatsoever. And it shouldn’t be happening.”

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Asked if those comments represented condemnation, Mr Gallagher said: “I don’t use the word condemnation, deliberately. And I’ll tell you why. If I thought condemnation was going to stop car bombs, well, I would be doing that. But what I’m trying to do is tell people to stop it, to say that there’s no strategic value in it and that it shouldn’t be happening.”

The DUP, meanwhile, said they will meet with the PSNI at 9am on Tuesday to discuss the threat posed by dissident republican terrorism.