Scenes of young children with petrol bombs in Londonderry condemned

petrol bombs were later thrown at members of the media

By Jonathan McCambridge and Rebecca Black (PA)

Scenes of young people with petrol bombs in Londonderry have been condemned.

Crates of petrol bombs appear to have been prepared in advance ahead of a dissident republican parade in the Creggan area to mark the anniversary of the Easter Rising.

While the main parade passed off without major incident, petrol bombs were later thrown at members of the media and a van was set on fire.

The event, organised by the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee, started in the Central Drive area before making its way to the City Cemetery.

A senior police officer said they had been notified about an event in the City Cemetery, but not of the parade from Central Drive.

Derry City and Strabane Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Gillian Kearney, said they believed petrol bombs seen on Central Drive would have been used to attack police if the opportunity had arisen.

The parade included a colour party made up of people wearing face coverings, sunglasses and paramilitary-style dress, carrying the Irish flag and a host of republican flags.

Wreaths were laid at the republican plot at the City Cemetery and an oration was delivered.

A police helicopter was in the skies throughout proceedings, and a drone warned people it was an unnotified parade.

A number of young people with masks covering their faces carried crates of petrol bombs and lumps of masonry.

Members of the media came under attack after the march and a number of petrol bombs were thrown.

Ms Kearney said police engaged with the event organiser and, on the day, issued several warnings from a drone to make people aware they would be taking part in an unnotified parade on Central Drive.

“Despite several warnings, participants proceeded along Central Drive and into the City Cemetery,” she said.

“Sadly, we saw evidence of petrol bombs being prepared by young people prior to the parade.

“These youths were also involved in the parade along Central Drive. It is our assessment these would have been used to attack police had the opportunity arose.

“It’s incredibly sad, and really disheartening, to see young people, including children, involved in this.

“Using young people in this way, risking their safety and encouraging them to engage in criminality, is reprehensible.

“A local person’s van was set on fire for no reason, just next to a local community hall on Central Drive in Creggan, while a number of petrol bombs were also thrown in the area.

“The fire has been dealt with by NIFRS and those involved throwing the petrol bombs have dispersed.

“Today’s parade was un-notified and therefore an investigation has commenced into what occurred, as well as the other incidents which serve only to damage the local community.

“Footage obtained from our evidence-gathering operation today will be reviewed as part of an investigation into a breach of the Public Processions Act and offences under the Terrorism Act 2000.”

SDLP leader and Foyle MP Colum Eastwood condemned the scenes.

“This is the last thing that our community wants or needs.

“The kids being whipped up into throwing petrol bombs at journalists and the police are putting their own lives and futures at risk as well as the safety of others,” he said.

“Those responsible for this only want to drag us back. They have nothing to offer the people of this city and they need to understand that we all want a better future.

“The people of Derry want to live in peace with their neighbours. We won’t have that peace threatened by anyone, let alone cowards that send kids out to throw petrol bombs.”

Police on the ground were attacked at the same event last year, with petrol bombs and other missiles.

Groups marched in west Belfast and other areas in Northern Ireland across the Easter weekend as part of an annual public marking of the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising against then-British rule across the island of Ireland.

Most parades were lawful and passed without incident.

A colour party listen to a speaker at the City Cemetery in Londonderry, after their Easter Monday parade through the Creggan area of Londonderry, commemorating the anniversary of the Easter Rising Rebellion of 1916 (Picture by PA)

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