McGuinness condemns Derry violence

Violence that followed the annual Apprentice Boys parade in Derry was unacceptable and sectarian, the North's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said.

Violence that followed the annual Apprentice Boys parade in Derry was unacceptable and sectarian, the North's deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said.

Gangs who hijacked vehicles and attacked police in nationalist areas also pulled a mother and her daughter from their car during the disturbances.

Petrol bombs were thrown at officers, and at the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in Derry, while police were also targeted with a pipe bomb in the hours after the loyal order march took place.

As violence broke out in the wake of yesterday’s event, which saw the Protestant marching organisation parade through the centre of the mainly nationalist city, a number of vehicles were stolen and set alight. There were no reports of injuries.

Mr McGuinness said: “What we witnessed last night in Derry was completely unacceptable.

“I challenge those who were behind this violence to come out and try and defend the incidents that occurred in our city yesterday.

“Let them stand over a mother and daughter being dragged from their car in Creggan and other people’s livelihoods being destroyed with work vans being burnt.

“The attacks on the Memorial Hall were motivated entirely by sectarianism and whoever carried them out should know that such behaviour goes against everything about Irish Republicanism.”

He added: “The vast majority of people in Derry want to get on with the job of moving this city forward. Those behind last night’s violence seem to be wedded to an entirely different agenda.”

Dissident republicans had staged protests against the parade and were involved in scuffles with police as the march passed through the centre of the city.

The Apprentice Boys’ celebrations marked the 322nd anniversary of the ending of the Siege of Derry in 1689.

Apprentice Boys governor James Brownlee congratulated participants in the parade, as well as the spectators.

The organisation expressed its sadness over the violence which it blamed on republicans opposed to its event.

The SDLP Assembly member for Foyle, Mark H Durkan, said many of those involved in the disturbances were “alarmingly young” and had only served to cause “a huge amount of distress to the people of the Bogside”.

He added: “A Royal Mail van and a Paolo’s Pizza Van were burnt out – just what does that achieve In fact, all it does is disrupt the local people of Derry who rely on the jobs and services they provide.

“The violence has been disgraceful. If those responsible think they are defenders of their community they should take a look at the destruction they have caused to their community and ask just what has this achieved.”

The Rev David Latimer of First Derry Presbyterian Church said: “Anything that people want to do, it has to be done peacefully.

“There is no progress that can be made in any positive meaningful way by bringing people on to the streets and seeking to destroy property. This is wrong.”

Chief Superintendent Steve Martin was among those who appealed for calm after the parade passed off without major incident.

Around 15,000 people were involved in the Apprentice Boys parade which included 140 bands and took place amid tight security.

Around 100 dissident republicans staged protests at the city centre.

As the Apprentice Boys march was about to get under way, a Royal Mail van was hijacked and set on fire around 12.30pm.

Arrests took place in connection with disturbances which occurred on the eve of the march, but as the day of the parade progressed, two further arrests were made for disorderly and riotous behaviour.

Missiles were thrown at police in the Butcher Gate area around 4pm and what police said was a minor scuffle broke out between protesters and officers at Shipquay Street in the afternoon.

A car was set alight in Fahan Street around 5.15pm and a van was hijacked on the Leckey Road. Several petrol bombs were thrown at the Memorial Hall and at police Land Rovers.

Police also confirmed that a car was hijacked in the Creggan Street area around 6pm. A woman and her daughter were pulled from the vehicle.

Officers later said a pipe bomb device was thrown at police in the area of Free Derry Corner shortly before 7pm.

The device exploded, but there were no injuries and no damage to property.

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