Children ‘exploited and goaded’ into Londonderry violence, says Bradley

Dissident republicans who have “nothing to offer their communities” have “exploited and goaded” children into violence in Londonderry, according to the Northern Ireland Secretary.

Karen Bradley hit out as she responded to an urgent question in the Commons, which pressed her to update MPs on recent violence in the region.

Ms Bradley highlighted “serious disorder” in Belfast and some surrounding areas of County Down on July 11 following a court order to remove a bonfire considered unsafe, along with “sporadic, isolated acts of violence” in the days since.

She also condemned “unrelated but serious disorder” in Derry last week, including petrol bombs and a shooting attack against police officers.

Ms Bradley told MPs: “As the chief constable informed me this morning, there have been so far 15 arrests in connection with the violence in Derry and 10 people have been charged.”

She added: “In many cases it would appear that young people are being exploited and goaded into criminal activity by adults who have nothing to offer their communities.”

Dissidents were behind the Londonderry violence, while Loyalists were behind the Belfast violence.

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Tony Lloyd, who asked the urgent question, said the levels of civil disorder were “very serious” as he told Ms Bradley to show leadership.

“There is now an obligation of leadership – it’s an obligation of leadership on Arlene Foster and on Michelle O’Neill, the respective leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein, but there is also I think a demand for leadership from her as Secretary of State and from the United Kingdom Government.

“We’ve got now to re-establish that the Good Friday institutions have got to be made once again to work.”

Ms Bradley later said she agreed with comments made by political leaders across all parties in Northern Ireland condemning the violence.

She said: “I think the fact that the people of Northern Ireland have heard their political leaders saying the same thing with the same voice is incredibly important and it’s a message that needs to be made to the very, very small number and we are talking a very small number of people now who do not believe that the way to resolve the issues in Northern Ireland is through dialogue but is instead through violence.”

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said there had been considerable progress and there was worse violence at a time when the executive was in place, adding that the need for extra police resources was key.

Labour former Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Smith said: “The vacuum in our politics in Northern Ireland whilst not wholly responsible for this is at least partly responsible and I urge her to do more to fill that vacuum with political dialogue and restore the institutions.”

Ms Bradley replied: “I agree we need political dialogue but I have to say there is no excuse for the violence we have seen, there can be no excuse whatsoever, it is totally unacceptable behaviour.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Michael Cooper / PA Wire.