Explosive thrown at house of former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams
FILE PHOTO: Gerry Adams speaks at an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

An explosive device was thrown at the home Gerry Adams in Belfast overnight, the former Sinn Fein leader said on Saturday, saying the attack may have been carried out by Irish nationalist militants opposed to Northern Ireland’s peace deal.

A second device was thrown at the home of the party’s former Northern Ireland Chairman Bobby Storey, he said.

Adams told journalists that no one was hurt in either attack, but that two of his grandchildren had been in his driveway 10 minutes before and could have been killed.

A police spokesman said remnants of “large industrial, firework-type devices capable of causing serious damage or injury” were found at both locations after the attacks, which he said took place late on Friday.

The Belfast attacks came after days of street violence in Northern Ireland’s second city Londonderry, which police blamed on militant Irish nationalists opposed to a 1998 peace deal that Adams helped to broker.

Asked if dissident Irish nationalists were responsible for the attack on his home, Adams said that “there may be a connection with what is happening in Derry”, referring to Londonderry.

Adams later said he was willing to meet with dissident nationalists and pro-British groups involved in violence in east Belfast in a bid to end recent street violence.

Northern Ireland’s peace deal largely ended three decades of violence between Irish nationalists who wanted the region to join the Republic of Ireland and pro-British unionists who wanted it to remain British. More than 3,000 died in the violence.

Several groups of dissident Irish nationalists remain active and carry out occasional attacks, but their capacity is tiny compared with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which decommissioned its weapons after the 1998 deal.

Many of the dissidents consider Adams and his Sinn Fein party - the former political wing of the IRA - as having betrayed the Irish nationalist cause by signing a peace agreement with the British government.

Political leaders in Northern Ireland have warned that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the possibility of infrastructure on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic for the first time since 1998 could help dissident groups to recruit new members.

Police on Friday blamed dissident group including the Real IRA for several nights of violence in Londonderry.

On Friday, 74 petrol bombs and two improvised explosive devices were thrown during street violence in the city, which Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable George Hamilton said included attempts to murder police officers.

A spokeswoman on Saturday said police were attending incidents at two locations in West Belfast, but did not give any further details.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he “unequivocally condemned” the violence in Londonderry and Belfast, writing in a post on Twitter.

Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin and Ian Graham in Belfast; Editing by Mark Potter and Edmund Blair