THOSE responsible for a bomb that exploded outside a Derry court house on Saturday evening showed a “callous disregard for human life”, the Bishop of Derry & Raphoe, the Rt Revd Ken Good, said on Sunday.
The bomb, which exploded with little warning, was placed in a hijacked pizza-delivery van and driven across the city before being abandoned.
Twitter footage released by the Police Service in Northern Ireland showed the bomb exploding not long after a group of young people had walked past the vehicle. A hotel and a masonic hall are near by, and a youth club where functions were taking place.
Police and community leaders were quickly on the scene after a warning was passed on by the Samaritans in the West Midlands, and managed to lead people to safety before the bomb exploded, shattering windows and showering debris over a wide area.
Bishop Good said: “It defies belief that anyone would place a bomb on a city-centre street, early on a Saturday evening, so close to people’s homes, churches, a hotel, sheltered accommodation, nearby pubs, and a large car park.”
reutersAn abandoned suspect vehicle at the scene of a security alert in Derry/Londonderry, on Monday
He said that there were only two possible explanations for such an action, widely believed to be the work of the “New IRA”: a coalition of dissidents left behind by the Belfast Agreement 20 years ago.
“One is that the bombers didn’t think about the potential consequences of what they were doing. The other is that they did think through the possible consequences, and still went ahead, and that’s even more worrying. . .
“It’s shocking to think what could have happened. There’s outrage and condemnation right across the city.”
The explosion, and subsequent security operation, forced the cancellation of Sunday-morning services at St Columb’s Cathedral, and St Augustine’s. It was the first time in living memory that there had been no Sunday-morning worship at the cathedral.
A baptism scheduled for St Augustine’s on Sunday was transferred to St Peter’s, two miles away, and, during the service, which was attended by Bishop Good and his wife, Mary, Christingle candles were lit to symbolise the Christian message.
Two more hoax hijackings added further confusion to the city over the weekend. Four out of five suspects arrested in the aftermath have been released from police custody, while a fifth, a 50-year-old man, was still being questioned on Tuesday.