Petrol bombs have been thrown at PSNI vehicles who descended on an estate in Derry where an Easter commemoration linked to traditional republicans was being held.
The parade by the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee to mark the Easter Rising included a colour party dressed in black and wearing masks. The PSNI had said that the proper authorities had not been notified and said that it would carry out “evidence gathering”.
In advance of the event, large numbers of PSNI armoured vehicles gathered in the republican Creggan estate, several mounted with spy cameras. The parade itself lasted less than an hour, but rioting began almost immediately afterwards as local youths threw petrol bombs and the PSNI vehicles withdrew.
Tensions had been climbing all week as British soldiers appeared alongside the PSNI in provocative ‘searches’ in several areas of the city. A number of PSNI checkpoints were also erected across the city.
There had been fears of serious trouble following a headline-grabbing press release by the PSNI which claimed that an IRA bomb attack was being planned to coincide with visit of US President Joe Biden. That appeared designed to set the scene and pre-assign blame for today’s operation.
In a statement yesterday, the organising Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee had urged the Crown Forces to stay away from the estate and had warned against a PSNI effort “to raise tensions and give cover for the Crown Forces to attack the Easter commemoration, just as they did last year”.
They added: “While the Crown Forces have been on a charm offensive lately with community workers, we would urge those community workers who met with Republicans - and agreed with our analysis regarding the commemoration on how it can conclude peacefully and with respect - to tell the Crown Forces they are not wanted in the area, nor are they needed in the area and that their presence will only bring conflict.”