April 19, 2022



A petrol bomb attack on police officers following an Easter parade linked to dissident republicans was “premeditated”, Londonderry’s most senior officer has said.

The police were attacked at the City Cemetery on Monday.

A 44-year-old man was arrested under the Terrorism Act on Tuesday following searches in Creggan.

Five men, aged 29, 38, 40, 50 and 54, were also arrested by police on Monday under the Terrorism Act.

A 45-year-old man was also arrested overnight on Monday under the Terrorism Act.

They remain in police custody at this time.

Another man, aged 40, was also arrested on suspicion of disorderly behaviour and resisting police on Monday. He has now been charged and is to appear in court on 11 May.

Ch Supt Ryan Henderson said: “It was clear it was premediated in that there were petrol bombs in a crate within the cemetery and masonry thrown at us.”

“As part of that premediated violence young people were used, encouraged and cheered along by adults to attack the police,” he told BBC Radio Foyle.

“That is a terrible and hopeless thing to see.”

Police said they seized a number of vehicles, paramilitary-style uniforms and petrol bombs.

The violence broke out following a parade that had been planned by the National Republican Commemoration Committee, which organises events on behalf of the anti-agreement republican party, Saoradh.

About 1,000 people took part in the demonstration; some of them with their faces covered.

The parades commission had imposed a number of conditions on the event, including a prohibition on the display of symbols or banners relating to proscribed organisations.

Ch Supt Henderson said officers had tried to “engage with those involved in the parade and issued a warning around their behaviour which had no impact”.

Police had intervened when “it was appropriate and safe to act,” he added.

“I have to say officers acted with great courage and determination to make those arrests to protect the community and, even under attack, were able to do so that reduced harm to themselves and community”.

‘Desecrate holy ground’

On Monday, Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown condemned the throwing of petrol bombs from the cemetery grounds.

“Young people need inspiration, not merchants of despair,” the Catholic bishop told BBC Radio Foyle.

“Petrol bombs thrown over the cemetery wall desecrate holy ground and threaten the lives of the next generation.”

The Police Federation said officers had again faced “the brunt of violence on our streets”.

On Monday, two vigils took place in the city on the third anniversary of the death of journalist Lyra McKee. She was shot dead on 18 April 2019 and her killing was blamed on dissident republicans.

Ms McKee’s partner accused those involved in the parade of having “no respect”.

Sara Canning said the organisers had “no sense of understanding, no empathy as to what we’re going through”.

c. BBC