Church leaders and politicians have backed calls from Bogside residents for a peaceful weekend ahead of the annual Apprentice Boys march.
Local residents appealed to be allowed to live in peace and said they hoped there would not be a repeat of last year when violence erupted in the Bogside, orchestrated by paramilitaries.
Fr Michael Canny, Derry Diocesan spokesperson said: “I am calling for tolerance and respect for difference. We need to be conscious that we have a shared city and everybody should feel welcome and should be able to live in harmony and peace.”
The Diocesan spokesperson said that the weekend could be a positive one instead of a negative one and pointed to the community festivals taking place in the area. “I want to acknowledge that a lot of good work has been done by various individuals and groups. I am looking forward to a weekend that can be enjoyed by everyone,” he said.
Bogside community worker Maureen Collins said that the rights of older residents should be respected by everyone.
“We work with hundreds of older residents in the Bogside and the pressure they feel at this time of the year is frightening. “Some of them feel they have no option but to leave their homes and go to stay with relatives.
“Others have relatives stay with them and we arrange for local residents to stay with some of them,” she said.
An older resident of St Columb’s Wells also appealed for people, many of whom were drinking, who gathered in the area last year to watch the disturbances to stay away.
“There was none of them from here and even worse was all the people with blue bags watching and the ones in cars coming to watch. We live here and don’t want to be prisoners in our own homes,” she said.
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson also said she hoped the weekend will be peaceful and enjoyable.
“I would like to commend everyone involved in organising Saturday’s street party at Free Derry Corner as part of the Féile 2012. I attended the Pádraig Barton Cup and the Colm Quigley Jog in the Bog on Wednesday night.
“There were hundreds of people of all ages in attendance. The sun was shining and there was a great buzz in the area.
“Hopefully the weather on Saturday will be good and we will have another great family friendly event held right in the heart of the community,” she said.