Derry bomb blamed on dissidents


A car bomb has exploded outside a police station in the North.

The blast occurred at about 3.20am in a taxi which had been parked outside Strand Road police station in Derry. Damage was caused to the station and the perimeter wall but no one was injured in the incident.

The explosion followed a telephone warning that a device had been planted in front of the station.

According to the PSNI, a taxi driver was approached by two men on Cook Street at about 3am, one of whom had a gun. An object was placed in the driver's car and he was ordered to drive to the police station.

First Minister Peter Robinson said: “Using a taxi driver to deliver the device shows the cowardice of those behind the attack and my sympathies are with him and all those targeted.”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the bombers were an “embarrassment” to the people of Derry. “It’s about trying to undermine the peace process, about trying to undermine Sinn Fein’s peace strategy,” he said.

“If they think they will destroy the political institutions the people of Ireland voted for, if they think they’re going to destroy the working relationship I have with Peter Robinson, if they think they will undermine the peace process they are living in cloud cuckoo land.”

Officers are understood to have been evacuating the area when the device exploded. Damage was caused to the heavily fortified station, plus surrounding buildings including a nursing home and apartments.

A cordon has been put in place from Lance Hill to Asylum Road and from Lower Strand Road at Queen's Quay to Harbour Square closing the expressway.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin criticised the people responsible for the car bomb.

“I deplore this act of reckless, senseless criminality, which put at risk the lives of the community and which only acts to reinforce divisions on this island. Anyone with information should contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland,” he said.

Derry's Police commander said the latest attack was further proof that the threat from dissident republicans was severe. "These are very dangerous people, but the vast majority of people don't support them," Chief Supt Stephen Martin told local media.

Political leaders in the North also condemned today's attack which is believed to be the work of dissident republicans

“This was a cowardly, dangerous and vulgar act.It is extremely fortunate that no injury has been caused or life lost as a result of this attack," said the area’s SDLP MP, Mark Durkan.

“Those responsible for this incident have achieved nothing and this campaign of violence will achieve nothing,” he added.

Mayor of Derry Colm Eastwood said the people of the city would be outraged by the attack.

“There seems to be a lot of wreckage. The car is completely destroyed and it seems businesses across the street have been destroyed as well,” he said. “Police didn’t even have time to evacuate a nursing home or apartments right beside the police station.”

The mayor told the BBC: “We are very lucky today not to be talking about fatalities. It’s an attack not just on the police but the entire community.

"There could have been many killed; we are lucky we are not talking about that today. What do the people doing this think they are about? Do they think they will get a united Ireland by killing the elderly and the young?" Mr Eastwood said.

Sinn Féin Foyle representative and Policing Board member Martina Anderson said those responsible for the attack should explain their conduct. “Their actions are no part of a campaign to bring about Irish unity and they have little or no popular support,” she said. “Those of us in political leadership need to continue to keep working, to continue to build relationships and continue to demonstrate clearly that politics does work and that a political and peaceful path to a united Ireland is available.” She said anyone with information should go to the police.

East Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell called for resolute action to be taken against the bombers.

“It is essential that not only words of condemnation follow these attacks but action flows from them as well,” he said. “Describing the perpetrators as ‘evil’ or ‘traitors’ is accurate as far as it goes but what is required to prevent re-occurrence is information, evidence, prosecution, conviction in a court followed by lengthy prison sentences.

“The community where these individuals operate from should provide the information and the police and courts must do their job.”

Alliance Party chief whip Kieran McCarthy condemned the attack. “There is a small number of people who are trying to cause mayhem in our society but they must never prevail,” he said.

“The massive progress made in Northern Ireland in recent years cannot and must not be damaged by those seeking to cause instability.”

Additional reporting: PA