Bonfires to bouncy castles

DERRY BONFIRES'Derry no10-16/8/2012-TREVOR MCBRIDE PICTURE�'Bonfire alight at Moss Park at Galliagh in Derry-much debatye aboput the event.
DERRY BONFIRES'Derry no10-16/8/2012-TREVOR MCBRIDE PICTURE�'Bonfire alight at Moss Park at Galliagh in Derry-much debatye aboput the event.

Some funding might no longer be available to many community groups in Galliagh, Carnhill and Shantallow but all are every bit as determined this year as they have been in the past to provide young people in the area with alternative activities when it comes to bonfires.

Starting on Thursday July 23, virtually every community group operating in the Outer North area (Galliagh, Carnhill and Shantallow) of Derry will do what they can to provide activities for families and young people living in the area. The opening event in the area is a community fun day in Leafair and Glencaw.

The scene near Moss Park before the bonfire was lit in 2012.

The scene near Moss Park before the bonfire was lit in 2012.

In a bid to make as many people as possible aware of what will be happening in the area in the coming weeks the Outer North Community Safety Team (ONCST) met with the ‘Journal’ to highlight all of the events.

“I think we need to make something very clear - we [ONCST] are not against bonfires,” said ONCST member and Manager of Leafair Community Association, Peter McDonald.

“The ONCST want to provide young people with an alternative to bonfires but if there is a bonfire in the area and it is not causing any problems then we will not have a problem.”

In 2012, an enormous bonfire was lit in the Moss Park area of Galliagh. The weeks and days before, during and after the bonfire bore witness to some of the most serious incidents of anti-social behaviour to ever take place in the area.

The bonfire in Moss Park in 2012.

The bonfire in Moss Park in 2012.

Cathal Crumley, ONCST member and Manager of Shantallow Community Residents Association (SCRA) conducted a study into what happened in 2012 and estimated that the Moss Park incident cost in the region of £100,000.

“In terms of policing alone we believe the Moss Park incident cost £50,000 alone, that’s not to mention how much it cost to clean the area up afterwards,” he said.

The programme of events being highlighted by the ONCST would not come close to costing £100,000 which is why the group is struggling to understand why funding has been reduced.

“We are really starting to feel the austerity cuts here - but we are determined to do the very best that we can for this community,” said Peter.

Some of what will take place from July 27 to August 15 include indoor and outdoor games for children, outdoor physical literacy programmes, working with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to educate young people on the dangers of bonfires, Greater Shantallow Community Art’s Redshirts Programme, day trips away and family barbeques.

“It’s no secret that this community is an area of high deprivation and unemployment. Many of the people living here can’t afford to go on fancy holidays so it’s only natural that the community groups in this area would try to organise events for the families in this area,” said Cathal.

“An example of just how bad the austerity cuts have impacted upon community groups becomes clear when you compare the places we were able to take the young people to in previous years to this year. In years gone by we would have gone to places like Belfast Zoo and the Dundonald International Ice Bowl but because some of the funding has been cut we can only go as far as places like St. Columb’s Park and Buncrana,” he added.

The ONCST was founded almost 10 years ago. Every two weeks the group meets to discuss any issues in the Outer North area. In recent years they have experienced success with some young people involved in anti-social behaviour.

Martin Connelly is a member of the ONCST and is the co-ordinator for Community Restorative Justice in the Outer North area.

“Some of the young people who would have been involved in anti-social behaviour a few years ago have come on leaps and bounds.

“We worked with them and talked to them about what was going on and they listened. Now, some of them are trained in stewarding at events. They have worked as stewards at some of the events we would have witnessed anti-social behaviour at in the past so I think this collective community approach does work,” said Martin.

The Outer North Community Safety Summer Programme 2015

July 14 - 11 - Leafair Games and Sports Day - telephone Michaela McGilloway - 028 7135 3735

July 14 - August 20 - Off The Streets Summer Programme - telephone Damien Coyle - 028 7135 8048

July 20 - 24 - Greater Shantallow Community Art’s Film First Programme - telephone 028 7135 7443

July 23 - Leafair Community Association - Family Fun Day - telephone Peter McDonald - 028 7135 3735

July 26, 27 and 31 - ASPIRE Programme - telephone Pat Carlin 028 7135 8787

July 27 - August 13 - Shantallow Community Residents Association Summer Programme - telephone Conchur McCauley 028 7128 0250

August 3 - 7 - Greater Shantallow Community Arts Redshirts Summer Club - telephone Marty McGranaghan 028 7135 7443

August 10 to 15 - Redshirts Active Citizenship - telephone Marty McGranghan 028 7135 7443

August 12 - Leafair Fun Day - telephone Peter McDonald - 028 7135 3735

August 13 - Summer Dance Madness - telephone Irena Melly - 028 7135 7443

August 15 - Shantallow Community Fun Day - telephone Conchur McCauley 028 7128 0250

August 15 - Rainbow Child and Family Centre Fun Day - telephone Jackie Connelly 028 7135 3724

August 15 - Greater Shantallow Area Partnership Photo Exhibition - telephone 028 7135 8787

August 15 - Youth Diversionary and Intervention Programme - contact Peter McDonald - 028 7135 3735

August 15 - Grand Finale Celebration in St, Brigid’s College - contact Peter McDonald - 028 7135 3735