The ambulance crews are now safely out of the area, but the wreckage of the crashed helicopter remained until its removal today and police who were at the scene came under repeated attack yesterday and last night. This time the “kids with snowballs” had armed themselves with petrol bombs, numbering 30 in this report but the figure quoted on Talkback by a polioce spokesman was 70 – which is the number given here – as well as other missiles. MP for the area, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy has been widely quoted today, referring to a “sinister element” and “political influences” being behind the attacks.
“Our people were on the ground trying to get them to desist from the attacks,” he said. “I’m not sure it was well organised but I do suspect other influences there – political influences – but I can’t say that for sure.”
From the Belfast Telegraph report
Mr Murphy, who was at the scene until 10pm, today described the attacks as “unorganised” and claimed that those behind them only served to harm their own community.
“Our people were on the ground trying to get them to desist from the attacks,” he said.
“I’m not sure it was well organised but I do suspect other influences there – political influences – but I can’t say that for sure.”
Mr Murphy said parents and the community safety group also weighed in in what they believed was a successful bid to stop the youths.
Another frenzied attack, however, resumed before midnight.
“Our presumption was that things had settle down by 10pm,” said Mr Murphy. “I think a more sinister element returned later in the evening.”
And from the BBC report
He said Sinn Fein representatives in the area had talked to parents after the initial attacks and were able to get them stopped.
However, he said some youths returned at about midnight and resumed the violence.
He said those who did so “perhaps had more of an agenda to work out there”.
The Newry and Armagh MP said he would speak with people in the area on Tuesday.
“If I think that there is any information from the people who caused damage to the community last night it should be passed on to to the police, because those people who came later on and attacked only succeeded in harming their own community,” he said.
While in the Irish Times breaking news report
Chief Supt Bobby Hunniford said today: “Thankfully no one was injured but the blatant disregard for human life is deplorable. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it cannot be allowed to continue.
“In this era of wanting to move forward, it is totally unacceptable that police and other emergency services are met with bricks, bottles and petrol bombs when they respond to a call.”
And the best way to do that is for those responsible to be held to account in the courts.