Over a hundred people turned out in Londonderry on Friday for a rally for peace after days of security alerts linked to paramilitary groups.
Organised by NIPSA, a trade union which represents public sector workers, the event was held in solidarity with contractors who had been threatened or had their vehicles hijacked in the spate of attacks.
Derry’s top police officer Gordon McCalmont confirmed two of the vehicles were hijacked at gunpoint.
Housing Executive contractors and other services including transport and postal were suspended in some areas of Derry after three major security alerts on Monday, and a car bomb outside the city’s courthouse on Saturday night.
Many speakers at the event called on the main Stormont parties to resolve their differences and end the political impasse in Northern Ireland, claiming the lack of a functioning government was depriving Derry of opportunity and stoking paramilitarism.
Trade union official Antoinette McMillan called upon “the men of yesterday” to stop their campaign of violence.
“We cannot go back to a violent society, we urge those responsible to listen to the workers, to the people, any threats, bullying or intimidation, any form of violence will never achieve equality. True equality, true democracy and true peace can only be achieved by people working together,” she said.
Among the crowd were representatives from Sinn Fein, the SDLP and DUP as well as People Before Profit and those from the local business community and PSNI.
Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill said she agreed with the sentiments expressed by those speaking, and that the Good Friday Agreement was “the only show in town”.
“We stand with the people of Derry after the worrying developments of the last week, there’s a clear message here today, people are coming together to say ‘not in our name’.
“I believe people want the Assembly up and working but they also don’t want it to discriminate against people, so it’s important that we get that right.
“I share the sentiment expressed here in Derry and let’s be real there are elements in society that want to drag us back, elements that want to visit violence on the people of Derry and cause disruption to people’s lives, to cause mayhem, that is not acceptable, there is a peaceful way forward to a united Ireland, and it is for the people to decide.”
DUP MP Gregory Campbell said that an attack on one person in Derry was an attack on the city.
“The entire community have to stand together against violence, violence was always wrong and it is wrong today.
“I’m here to stand with those who are under attack and we have to make sure those who carry out these attacks face justice.”
The PSNI say its main line of inquiry is that Saturday’s bomb and Monday’s spate of alerts were conducted by the New IRA, an amalgamation of dissident republican factions in Derry, who were allegedly responsible for the riots in the Bogside area of the city during the summer.