A fireball outside a courthouse. Hijackings and bomb alerts. Sealed-off streets, evacuations and arrests. Speculation about the next attack.
It can seem as if Derry has stepped into a time machine. Television pictures in the past few days have shown images redolent of the Troubles, an era supposedly consigned to the city’s museums and murals.
Ice and snow blanketed the scorch marks outside the Bishop Street courthouse on Tuesday as police with body armour and rifles patrolled the streets and continued to hunt the dissident republicans blamed for 72 hours of chaos – a car bomb on Saturday was followed by groups of masked men mounting three separate van hijackings, triggering widespread bomb alerts.
CCTV footage showed young people strolling past the rigged vehicle minutes before it exploded on Saturday. Police called the bomb crude, unstable and incredibly reckless.
There were no casualties, but the blast and its aftermath in Northern Ireland’s second city provided a dramatic counterpoint to the febrile political mood in Westminster and across the UK. Could the Troubles be returning?
On the streets of Derry the answer is no.
The New IRA, the group believed to be responsible for the incidents, has negligible support and limited capacity, and is a feeble, unwanted, wannabe successor to the Provisional IRA, say residents. [Continue reading…]