Petrol bombs thrown at police during dissident republican parade in Derry

Youths attacked PSNI Landrover during illegal march through Creggan on Monday

Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at police during a dissident republican parade in Derry.

Young people with their faces covered attacked an armoured police Landrover as the illegal march made its way through the Creggan area of the city on Monday afternoon for an Easter ceremony organised by the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said no injuries had been reported and appealed for calm.

The Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Nigel Goddard, said it was a “senseless and reckless attack on our officers who were in attendance in the area in order to comply with our legal duties” and said police would now review footage as part of an investigation into potential offences.


The Northern Secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris, told the BBC that, 25 years on from the signing of the Belfast Agreement, the peace was “still fragile” but “the vast, vast majority of people across Northern Ireland have moved on”.

“There are a small group of people who are causing all sorts of issues and we need to root them out and make sure they’re dealt with appropriately,” he said.

Last week the police warned of “very strong community intelligence” dissident republicans could launch attacks in Derry on Easter Monday and said there was a “real concern that there may be attempts to draw police into serious public disorder and to use that then as a platform to launch terrorist attacks on police as well.”

This could include gun or bomb attacks on police officer, Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said.

Dissident republican commemorations, which traditionally take place on Easter Monday to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, have previously led to significant disorder in Derry.

The journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead by dissident republicans in the city in Easter 2019.

On Monday afternoon, several hundred people watched as a group of about 15 people dressed in paramilitary-style uniforms, wearing black berets, black sunglasses and with their faces covered, marched from Central Drive in Creggan to the republican plot in the City Cemetery, where a brief ceremony was held.

They were led by a smaller colour party carrying a Tricolour, Starry Plough and flags representing the Fianna and the four provinces of Ireland.

The disorder was widely condemned by politicians in Northern Ireland. The Foyle MP and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said “senseless violence” was “wrong 25 years ago and it is wrong now”.

“The saddest part of this spectacle is that young people with no memory or experience of the violence of our past are being manipulated and abused by people with no vision for the future.

“Those whipping our kids into a frenzy and sending them out to attack the police have nothing to offer the people of Derry and this city will continue to reject them.”

Sinn Féin’s vice president and the North’s first minister designate, Michelle O’Neill, said that “25 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, this needless street disorder in Derry has no place in our society”.

“This type of illegal and anti-community activity is deplorable and out of step from wider community and public opinion,” she said.

The Minister for Enterprise, Simon Coveney said those responsible had “nothing to offer our society, north or south” and were a “tiny minority of thugs seeking headlines, wanting to take Northern Ireland backwards.”

Meanwhile, police in Belfast are continuing to examine video footage of a masked colour party at the head of an illegal Irish Republican Socialist Party parade on the Falls Road on Sunday, which is being reviewed as part of an investigation into potential offences under the Terrorism Act.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times