Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin 'solidarity vigil' in wake of arson attack

Car on fire Image copyright Sinn Féin
Image caption Mr Campbell's teenage daughter became aware of the fire shortly before 03:00 BST on Sunday

Sinn Féin have encouraged the public to attend a vigil to show "solidarity" with a councillor whose car was destroyed in an arson attack.

Councillor Kevin Campbell said his family had a "lucky escape" after the blaze at his home in Londonderry in the early hours of Sunday.

The alarm was raised by Mr Campbell's teenage daughter shortly before 03:00 BST.

Police said they are working to establish a motive for the attack.

Three people were seen running away from the property in the Creggan area of the city.

Image copyright Sinn Féin
Image caption An image of the burning car taken from inside the house

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Campbell said: "I tried to put [the fire] out with an extinguisher, which was useless, and then again with a garden hose, while we were waiting on the Fire and Rescue Service, but it was uncontrollable.

"Luckily, it was reversed in so the engine was away from the house.

"If it had been driven in the way we normally do, then the canopy of the house would have caught fire and the house could have been burned down."

Image caption The Londonderry councillor said his family were lucky to escape injury

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said the incident was "not only an attempt to intimidate an elected representative, but an attack on his family".

He added: "It follows a pattern in recent years where the homes and cars of Sinn Féin elected representatives and activists in Derry have been attacked and set on fire by cowards in the dead of night.

Image caption The arson attack happened at the Lislane Drive home of Kevin Campbell

"Their desire to intimidate us into silence will fail and I ask the people of Derry to stand with representatives like Kevin Campbell who work every day for a better future for all."

There has been widespread condemnation of the attack on social media.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton described it as a "disgraceful attack", while SDLP leader Column Eastwood tweeted: "An attack on any public representative is an attack on democracy itself."

The vigil will be held on Sunday evening near Kevin Campbell's home on Lislane Drive at 19:00 BST.

Meanwhile, there was a separate arson attack on a car in County Antrim in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police said a black Volkswagen Golf parked on the Mill Road in Larne was set alight at about 03:30 BST.

Police and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene and the fire was extinguished, but extensive damage was caused.

The two incidents are not believed to be linked.