CREGGAN: IT’S TIME FOR TALKS

BURNED OUT... A 76-year-old man was dragged out of his van which was later torched by hijackers in Creggan earlier this week. The hijacking was one of a number of worrying incidents to take place in the estate this week.
BURNED OUT... A 76-year-old man was dragged out of his van which was later torched by hijackers in Creggan earlier this week. The hijacking was one of a number of worrying incidents to take place in the estate this week.
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Community workers in Derry’s Creggan Estate are spearheading moves to ease tensions in the area which, they warn, have reached a “dangerous” new level.

Community workers in Derry’s Creggan Estate are spearheading moves to ease tensions in the area which, they warn, have reached a “dangerous” new level.

In a statement, signed by more than 40 community activists, they say they are anxious to discuss “all relevant issues” with “anyone interested in promoting the common good for our community”.

Among those who have signed up to the statement are prominent community representatives such as Tony O’Doherty, Gerry Quinn, Seamas Heaney, Conal McFeely, Charles Lamberton, Donncha MacNiallais and Karen Mullan.

The initiative comes on the back of a number of incidents in the past week which, according to community leaders, have led to a “great deal of unrest and concern” locally.

The latest and, according to community activists, “one of the most sinister” incidents, involves the “vilification” of a local community worker whose name appeared in slogans daubed on walls in various parts of the city.

The community workers have branded this type of action “dangerous and irresponsible.”

“It can lead to attacks on property - as we have seen in the past - or to something with even more serious consequences,” their statement reads.

“The people who painted these slogans, with their implied threats, should reflect that there is nothing to be gained from threatening or intimidating their own people. There are very many issues of concern to this community - matters which are being addressed by the broad spectrum of community organisations and workers across the entire area.

“These groups and individuals should be encouraged and supported - not demonised or targeted.”

The community reps say there is genuine concern that “recent abuse” has been organised by “one or more of the armed groups operating in our community.”

“Those responsible should realise that such methods are not in the interests of the community. Local community workers are confronted day and daily with the most challenging social and economic problems.

“We have a simple agenda: to improve and develop the living standards and quality of life of local residents.

“We will not be prevented from continuing to effect radical and positive change for our people.”

They argue that there are better forms of dialogue than “either vindictive personal attacks - which serve no useful purpose - or daubing people’s names on walls, with all that that implies.”

Their statement ends with an appeal for dialogue.

“As committed community workers and concerned local residents who are driven by values and principles for greater community ownership, economic renewal and social inclusion in a spirit of genuine neighbourliness, we are anxious to discuss all relevant issues with anyone who is interested in promoting the common good for our community.

“Any attack on a community worker or a community facility is an attack on the whole community.