Real IRA claims responsibility for Derry pipe bombs

Sat, Sep 12, 2009, 01:00

THE REAL IRA, suspected of being behind the 600lb bomb defused at Forkhill, Co Armagh earlier this week, has said it was responsible for two pipe-bomb attacks on the homes of family members of a PSNI officer in Derry and of a so-called punishment shooting in the city.

Minister for Security Paul Goggins led condemnation of the attacks, while the PSNI commander in Derry, Chief Supt Steven Martin, said the dissident republicans would not succeed with their attempts to intimidate his officers and their families.

The first pipe bomb exploded just after 1.30am under a vehicle outside the home of Séamus and Anne Gallagher at Drumleck Drive in the Shantallow area of the Derry.

Their son Neil joined the PSNI seven years ago.

Six hours later an unexploded pipe bomb was found outside the home of the officer’s sister, two miles away at Kylemore Park where she lives with her husband and their two young children.

That device failed to explode and it was later made safe by the British army.

Dozens of people were evacuated from their homes following both incidents, which were described by Chief Supt Martin as cowardly.

“It is an extremely sinister and worrying development that these people who skulk in the shadows like cowards have decided to target family members of serving police officers,” he said.

“I spoke to the officer concerned and, if anything, he is more determined than ever to continue to serve the public.

“He won’t be deflected from his commitment to protect and serve the public It is part of a deliberate campaign by the Real IRA to intimidate the families of serving Catholic police officers, but it’s a campaign which will fail,” he said.

Constable Gallagher’s mother Anne said neither she nor her husband Séamus would be forced to leave their home. “We’ve been living here for 38 years. We’ve got wonderful neighbours. Two of my sons joined the police seven years ago. One of them has since emigrated.

“We always had it in the backs of our minds that something like this could happen, but we support our son in the career he has chosen. This was a cowardly thing to do to our family,” she said.

Meanwhile, a man in his 20s was recovering in hospital in Derry yesterday after he was shot in his home at McFarland Way in the Hazelbank area of Derry.

Five masked men, two of them armed with handguns, forced their way into the victim’s home just after 1am before shooting him in the legs and in the left hand.