Northern Ireland police recovered what they called suspected pipe bombs from a cemetery in Londonderry on Tuesday, just hours before U.S. President Joe Biden landed in the United Kingdom nation on Tuesday night.
A significant police presence shut down the city cemetery in Creggan, Londonderry on Tuesday to retrieve what they called “four suspected pipe bombs”, deploying bomb-disposal robots and an army technical unit. The devices were not detonated, but “made safe and taken away for further forensic examination”.
Police have recovered four suspected pipe bombs from inside the City Cemetery in Creggan following a public safety operation there today, Tuesday 11th April: https://t.co/vzmOvx6u4L pic.twitter.com/aFI2bRAZeY
— Police Derry City and Strabane (@PSNIDCSDistrict) April 11, 2023
Police said the devices were found “in the same area” as what has been described as an “illegal dissident republican march in Londonderry” that took place on Easter Monday. Petrol bombs had been thrown at officers during the march, and petrol bombs were again thrown during the bomb-disposal operation, police said, relaying that: “Two vehicles were damaged, but thankfully no officers were injured.”
Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton, who spoke out last week to warn the public about intelligence of a terror plot to be launched around the time of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit, commented on the bomb disposal in the city cemetery and called it a “sinister and worrying development”. The officer said: “he actions of those responsible are reprehensible and show a complete disregard and utter contempt for the community. These suspected pipe bombs were left in a cemetery a place where people lay loved ones to rest and visit to pay their respects. That is absolutely shameful.”
While the Good Friday Agreement, which President Biden is visiting Ireland to commemorate, largely ended the decades of sectarian violence between pro-united Ireland republicans and pro-United Kingdom loyalists, small but violent groups of so-called ‘dissident republicans’ — meaning they rejected the Agreement and vowed to continue fighting — remain. A police officer was shot by a group thought to be the ‘New IRA’ last month.
U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Northern Ireland on Air Force One late Tuesday evening. On his to-do list while in Ireland, it is reported, is getting involved in local politics. The U.S. President is due to have meetings with the UK home nation’s political parties to try and force them into a power-sharing government. One of the key Parties, the Democratic Unionists (DUP) have been boycotting power-sharing over the perceived betrayal by Westminster of selling Ulster down the river to the European Union in Brexit negotiations.
UK Newspaper The Daily Telegraph illustrates the strength of feeling among some in Northern Ireland about President Biden himself, with one Trade Union leader dismissing Biden’s interference because he is fundamentally “anti-British” and “irredeemably partisan”. A Belfast local speaking to the paper demonstrated her perspicacity when she said of the visit: “Not that we want him anyway. He’s re-opening old wounds like the Kennedys did. He’s not interested in the peace process, all he’s interested in is Republicanism. It’s none of his business.”
Remarkably, even former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair — normally the first to leap to involving the United States in British politics and vice-versa — warned Biden of the pitfalls of getting involved. As reported, Blair said: “The Americans can play a real role but it’s something that you need to do carefully because there’s a difference between influencing and pressurising and the one tends to be positive and the other can be negative.”