Representatives attempt to restore calm in Londonderry after security alerts
Community representatives, political leaders and security services are attempting to restore calm to Londonderry after an unsettling three days.
Housing Executive contractors and other services including transport and postal were suspended in some areas of Derry after three major security alerts on Monday, and a car bomb on Saturday night.
Amid the disturbances, a van belonging to a contractor working with the Housing Executive was hijacked.
Following the incident, the contractor withdrew services in the Bishop Street, Brandywell, Creggan, Rosemount and Rossville areas of the city.
Likewise, Royal Mail said on Tuesday that following advice from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), its workers would not be attending certain areas of the city after one of its vans was hijacked.
Foyle MP Elisha McCallion (Sinn Fein) said she has called an urgent meeting with statutory agencies aimed at restoring services in the city which have been suspended due to the disorder.
“I have asked the Unity of Purpose group to urgently convene a meeting with the key statutory agencies that have had services affected as a result of this mindless spate of alerts,” she said.
Also speaking on Tuesday, after hundreds of residents were evacuated from their homes on Monday night, Derry’s top police officer Gordon McCalmont confirmed two of the vehicles had been hijacked at gun point.
“Two out of the three – there has been mention of guns being involved,” he said.
“Those drivers were going out to their work yesterday, going to do a day’s work and support their families, and I’m sure not for one minute did they think they would be confronted by armed masked men.
“It’s madness, that is the reality of it.
“We are grateful to those in the community who worked with us to find temporary shelter for those evacuated, and for the patience of the people of this city as we worked as quickly as possible to make sure it was safe for normal life to resume.”
The PSNI say its main line of inquiry is that Saturday’s bomb and Monday’s spate of alerts were conducted by the New IRA, an amalgamation of dissident republican factions in Derry, who are allegedly responsible for the riots in the Bogside area of the city during the summer.
Meanwhile, the five men – aged 50, 42, 34 and two aged 21 – who were arrested over the blast outside Bishop Street courthouse on Saturday night, were released unconditionally.