Crime: Creggan shops fast becoming a ‘no go’ area: says Donnelly

Recent fire damage caused at a shop's gable wall at Central Drive, Creggan. DER3514MC002
Recent fire damage caused at a shop's gable wall at Central Drive, Creggan. DER3514MC002

The Creggan shops on Central Drive are fast becoming a “no go” area, a local councillor has warned.

Gary Donnelly says the district has, for some time now, been plagued by arson attacks.

In the latest incident, which took place on Sunday, play equipment belonging to Holy Child Primary School was damaged in a fire.

Fortunately, the Fire Service was quickly on the scene and managed to extinguish the blaze.

Just hours earlier, however, arsonists started a fire at the nearby shops and, when fire personnel arrived at the scene, they were attacked.

In a separate incident, which took place on Friday night/Saturday morning, a van belonging to a local business was torched and destroyed in a fire.

Just weeks ago, a local bookmakers was badly damaged in a similar incident.

Councillor Gary Donnelly says local people are “at the end of their tether”.

“Unfortunately, the Creggan shops’ district is quickly becoming a no-go area,” he said.

“It’s high time the community regained the streets and put an end to this.”

Colr. Donnelly says the shops’ district has been plagued by hordes of young people - many of them fuelled by alcohol and drugs - for some time now.

“Those responsible are known to the community and appear to be acting with impunity,” he told the ‘Journal’.

“Parents have a duty to ensure their children are not involved in this sort of activity.”

Colr. Donnelly says businesses are, understandably, starting to question the viability of operating in the area.

“Many local people are put off using the shops because of the anti-social elements hanging around them,” he said.

“It’s no exaggeration to say we are at a crisis point here. I recently suggested the possibility of establishing a community forum in an effort to deal with the situation, but, sadly, there wasn’t much of a response to this idea.

“Unfortunately, too many people seem to be burying their heads in the sand on this one. However, it needs to be sorted and sorted now.

“Equally worrying is when a local school is targeted. The last thing schools need to be doing, given the stringent budgets they are forced to adhere to, is to divert money to repair damage to property.”