Bishop pleads for calm as hundreds protest against violence

Bishop pleads for calm as hundreds protest against violence

The Bishop of Derry has pleaded for calm in the city, telling those involved in clashes with police that nothing can be built with petrol bombs.

Hundreds of people from across Derry turned out at a rally to protest against the six nights of violence in the Bogside area of the city.

Residents, clergy members including Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown and politicians from across the divide turned out at Butcher Gate, the spot where police Land Rovers were attacked with petrol bombs on Thursday night.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) and Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill arrive for the rally (Brian Lawless/PA)
Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) and Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill arrive for the rally (Brian Lawless/PA)

Bishop McKeown said: “This last week has been a stressful time for everyone in the community.

“We in leadership need to remember that a lot of our young people feel left behind.

“This great city will not be drawn back to the years of suffering and loss.

“Nothing can be built with petrol bombs and stones thrown in anger.

“The people of Derry deserve so much better than violence.”

The Catholic Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown pleaded for calm (Brian Lawless/PA)
The Catholic Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown pleaded for calm (Brian Lawless/PA)

The mayor of Derry John Boyle, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, and civil rights activist Eamonn McCann were all in attendance to stand in defiance of what they say is dissident republican influence exploiting vulnerable teenagers in the area.

Members of Sinn Fein, including leader Mary Lou McDonald, Michelle O’Neill and Martina Anderson were greeted with a round of applause by the waiting crowds when they arrived at the community organised event.

Fiachra McGuinness, son of the late former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, was also there in support of his father’s former neighbourhood.

The bishop added: “Some communities that suffered in the past, still suffer today.

“Our young people feel they have been left out and left behind. Life is passing them by and looking down on them.

“However, this city has learned that violence and destruction doesn’t benefit anyone.

“You can’t claim to love your country and cause destruction and pain to those who live in it.

“All who live here deserve to be cherished equally.”

A heavy police presence could be seen in Derry city centre from early Friday evening.

- Press Association

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