Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 15:05 UK

Dissidents 'must condemn' attack

Mitchel McLaughlin said those who attacked his house are 'cowardly scum'

The deputy first minister has called on a dissident republican group to publicly condemn a petrol bomb attack on the home of Mitchel McLaughlin.

Martin McGuinness said the 32-County Sovereignty Movement, which has made threats against Sinn Féin leaders, should explain their actions.

He said the group "cannot absolve themselves from the actions of those that are encouraged by these comments."

The Sinn Féin's chairman's home in the Bogside was attacked on Monday.

Mr McGuinness called on 32CSM spokesperson Gary Donnelly to speak out against the attack on Mr McLaughlin and his family.

He asked him to "explain that organisation's role in setting the stage for these attacks and how they see these actions as contributing to achieving Irish unification.

"Those who are opposed to the Sinn Féin political project and strategy had the opportunity to oppose us in the European elections but chose not to do so because they know that the vast majority of the Irish people agree with the Sinn Féin strategy.

"It is obvious that those responsible for carrying out these attacks and those in organisations such as the 32CSM who set the context for them are more opposed to Sinn Féin than British government interference in Ireland," he said.

Scorch damage

Mr McLaughlin's wife and son were also in the house at the time, no-one was injured but a wall was scorch damaged.

He said those responsible were "cowardly scum", and said he and his family would "not be intimidated".

"Once more, cowards came in the dark of night and attacked my home in an attempt to intimidate me and my family," he said.

"The difference this time was that they attempted to set my home on fire with petrol bombs with no regard for anyone who was in the house at the time. This is attempted murder and there is no other way to describe it."

We need to be united to put an end to this nonsense that's going on that's bringing down the name of the Bogside and tarnishing it

Pat Ramsey

He said his home had been attacked three times in the past month.

Dissident republicans have been blamed for similar attacks in the past, but Mr McLaughlin refused to comment on who he thought was responsible.

"I see no value in adding to speculation. My message to those who disagree with us is 'stand up and make your case if you have a disagreement or think you've got a better way of doing things'," he said.

SDLP assembly member Pat Ramsey, who left the Bogside because of attacks on his house, said those responsible must be stopped.

"For heaven's sake, we need to be united to put an end to this nonsense that's going on and that's bringing down the name of the Bogside and tarnishing it," he said.

"People know who it is - if your son is coming home in the middle of the night after petrol bombs, people must be smelling it off them.

"They should be exposed and they should be handed over, it's as simple as that," said Mr Ramsey.

The attack has been condemned in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Among those who spoke out against the incident were the former DUP leader Ian Paisley, the Foyle MP Mark Durkan, and the Alliance leader David Ford.

In April the Republican Network for Unity, an umbrella group for some republicans who oppose Sinn Fein, described attacks on Sinn Fein properties as "wrong, misguided and serving no useful purpose."

It also called on the people responsible to "immediately desist."

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