Community leaders in the Outer North area have appealed for additional resources to allow them to provide more alternatives to bonfires in a bid to prevent further trouble in the area.
The call has been made by the Outer North Community Safety Team following disturbances around the Moss Park area of Galliagh last week. The Community Safety Team is made up of community representatives, local councillors, youth representatives, the Housing Executive, housing associations, Derry City Council, Police and Community Safety Partnership, and the PSNI. The group meets regularly to discuss issues in the area.
The recent trouble flared when material which young people had gathered for a bonfire was removed. Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at the PSNI and passing motorists during three days of clashes in the area.
Community leaders, residents and statutory representatives have been meeting on an almost daily basis to try to prevent a recurrence of the trouble, but have insisted that they need more resources in order to provide positive community alternatives to bonfires.
As well as trying to prevent further trouble in the area, the group is also seeking to avoid the many problems which arose from a bonfire in the area last year, including a number of assaults, on-street drinking, vandalism and local residents reporting that they were terrified in their own homes.
Martin Connolly, CRJ representative and chairperson of the Community Safety Team said local community workers are doing the best they can with the limited resources available to them. “We are currently lobbying for additional resources to allow us to provide more alternatives to bonfires. The majority of people in the area do not want these bonfires, especially after the problems they encountered around last year’s fire.
“We all need to work together to try to avoid the kind of trouble witnessed in the area last weekend. While only a small number of people were actually involved in the disturbances, we want to prevent other young people from getting caught up in dangerous situations where they could get badly injured or find themselves in serious trouble.
“We also want to improve opportunities for young people and everyone else in the Outer North area, but we cannot do this without support, and additional resources are needed to allow us, in co-operation with statutory agencies, to achieve this,” Mr Connolly said.
The group want to involve local young people in creating more alternatives to bonfires.
“We are hoping to design a programme that will go some way to meeting the needs of local people, particularly young people, as an alternative to bonfires and the trouble that is associated with them.
All of the statutory bodies have said they are prioritising this issue and representatives have agreed to continue to meet with local residents and young people to discuss how to progress the situation.
“We are open to new ideas and would encourage anyone, particularly young people, who feel they have something to contribute to get in touch with Off The Streets on 71358048,” he added.