Widespread condemnation

March 2, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

Condemnation of Monday’s 250lb car bomb attack on Newry courthouse came from all sections of the community.  

Downshire Road Presbyterian Church Minister, Rev. Brian Colvin, said it was ‘a sad day for all the people of Newry.’

“Newry has been a prosperous city over the last number of years,” he said.

“I believe that most people just want to build peace and these things are not helpful and I think the community has been shocked.”

Sinn Féin MP for the area, Conor Murphy, heard the blast in his Camlough home and was at the scene a short time later.

“These people have obviously nothing to offer apart from damaging the physical structure of Newry, but also damaging the reputation of Newry,” he said.

“The fact that we’re in the process of devolving policing and justice powers and there’s an attack on a courthouse will not be lost on people.”

SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley, was also quick on the scene and said local people are ‘disgusted’ at the attack.

“We could easily have been looking at serious casualties or worse,” Mr Bradley said.

“People are saying that they got enough of this sort of thing during the Provo campaign.  It was wrong and senseless then and it is wrong now. They are very angry and they want the people responsible taken out of circulation and brought to justice.”

UUP MLA, Danny Kennedy, said the attack ‘caused further fear and anxiety.’

“Clearly in the current political climate this attack was designed by republican dissidents to maximise fear and uncertainty and destabilise the entirety of our political structures. We must not allow that to happen,” he said.

Mr Kennedy called for an ‘effective security response’ and accused the Chief Constable Matt Baggott of viewing the threat posed by republican dissidents with ‘a certain amount of complacency.’

However, Mr Baggot rejected the claim saying: “We are far from taking the dissident threat complacently. We have got many more police officers back on the street, we are continuing to invest in the right capability and technology to tackle the dissident threat,” he said.

Mr Baggott said that the officers in Newry acted professionally and quickly after being given just 17 minutes to clear the area before the bomb exploded.

SDLP Mayor of Newry and Mourne, John Feehan, said everyone with an interest in the city of Newry must rally round to protect its future.

“The car bomb left at the courthouse was a threat to life and limb of residents and anyone passing by, and the warning was totally inadequate for a proper evacuation. But it was also a direct threat to the well-being and prosperity of Newry,” Mr Feehan said.

“We have a vibrant, thriving city now and we are not going to let anyone take away our hard-won progress.  We are absolutely dependent on a free flow of visitors and shoppers to our city and we will be an open and welcoming community despite the efforts of a destructive few.”

A joint statement issued by all the churches across the denominations in Newry, condemned the ‘indiscriminate attack on the whole community’.

“We pray that our community will stand together against such actions in the continued pursuit of a lasting peace for all,” the statement read.

Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade added its condemnation.

“Those responsible… have no strategy to contribute to the wellbeing of this area.  They have no support.  Newry will not allow them to prevail,” said Chamber Chief Executive, Orla Jackson.

“The people of Newry have worked tirelessly over the decades to regenerate the city and bring investment into the region.  Newry is now an economic driver of all-island significance. The actions of a very small minority will not put all of this good work in jeopardy.  Newry is a formidable, united community.”