Monday, January 23, 2012

TWN's Response to the Recent Derry Bombings

Norma Shearer, Chief Executive Officer of the 'Training for Women Network', based in Northern Ireland, shared her response to the recent bombings in Derry

"I am happy to report that there was no loss of life caused by the explosions of the two devices in Derry. The two devices were placed outside the Derry Visitor centre and Convention Bureau and at the Department of Health, Social Services and public Safety offices near Derry City Council offices.
Norma Shearer

While there were no fatalities, this proved to be a miracle, as one of the devices was left opposite sheltered accommodation for elderly people. While no group has yet to claim responsibility, PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) believe that it was a dissident Republican grouping, most likely either the Real IRA or Oglaigh na hEireann.

One of the direct consequences of this attack has been that Derry has failed in its bid to host the 2013 All Ireland Fleadh festival (a traditional Irish music festival). It was rejected because the governing body of the Fleadh believed that the threat posed by dissident Republicans was too great to risk the safety of attendants and participants. The loss of the festival strikes a huge blow to the Executive’s drive to make Northern Ireland a top tourist destination in 2012, not to mention the 41 million of lost revenue that the festival would have generated for Derry during this time of economic hardship.

Unfortunately, these attacks are part of a recent upsurge in dissident Republican activity. In fact, as I write, there are security alerts are in two villages in counties Antrim and Londonderry, where a gas cylinder with some wires coming out of the top was discovered behind a wall by a local resident.

TWN would like to take this opportunity to condemn the recent attacks in Derry and to reaffirm our position that these acts of violent extremism can not be allowed to disrupt the peacebuilding journey that Northern Ireland has begun. It is important that the peace and reconciliation work taking place throughout the province continues as it is only through this can peace be assured, allowing democratic dialogue to determine the path the province takes in the future, not violence, as has been the case in the past.

In other news, researchers involved in Boston College’s Belfast Project are involved in a legal battle in the United States to stop interviews they conducted in 2001 being handed over to the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). The Belfast Project took place for five years after 2001 and involved academics, historians and journalists conducting interviews with former Republicans and Loyalists such as Dolours Price about their activities during the Troubles. The interviewees were promised at the time  that their accounts would remain confidential until after their deaths. This has caused great controversy. Researchers fear for their personal safety if the guarantees they made to interviewees can no longer be kept, and also worry that such a decision could hinder research in the future by removing interviewees' ability to give full disclosure."

Two bombs exploded in Derry last week (photo by BBC News)

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