Fire-fighters were forced to withdraw overnight after joyriders torched a car next to a shop in Galliagh after using the estate as a race track, local Councillors have warned.
Fire and Rescue officers were forced to pull out of the area after arriving to tackle the blaze beside the Galliagh Spar shop, known locally as ‘the Co-op’.
Staff at the shop were force to close early due to smoke from the car fire, which was deliberately reignited later last night.
Residents, some of whom took to the streets to protest earlier, have said the joyriding went on for several hours before the vehicle was set alight.
Independent Councillor Warren Robinson: “Once again the people of the Galliagh estate have had to endure yet another attack on their community as a car is burned beside the Co-op and the Fire Service is forced to withdraw after being attacked.”
Councillor Robinson said that members of Galliagh Community Empowerment were on the ground last night attempting to deal with the situation as the vehicle was set on fire for the second time.
“I wish to commend the local volunteer community activists from Galliagh Community Empowerment who have given up their evening in order to try to make sure the area is safe for residents, he said, adding:
“A vehicle had been driven recklessly around the estate for a number of hours this evening and as a result local people took to the streets in order to prevent serious injury to an innocent passerby.
“Unfortunately those driving the car managed to get it onto some land beside the Co-op and set it on fire. As a result of the thick smoke the management at the Co-op had to pull the shutter down and close the shop.
“I would also condemn those responsible as going totally against the wishes and desires of the local community. Tonight’s incident is simply the latest in a series of incidents over recent nights and I would call on those responsible to stop attacking their community. There is no place within Galliagh for those intent on wrecking the area.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion said those responsible had put lives at risk.
She said: “The activities of these anti-community elements while putting the lives of residents at risk also disrupted the operation of the Galliagh Co-op which had to close when these thugs set fire to the car in which they were death-driving around the area.
“The residents of the greater Galliagh area are fed up with the antics of this minority element and demand that they cease this activity before there is a fatality or serious injury.
“I have no doubt that there are people in the area who are aware of those involved in this anti-community activity and I would remind them that they have a civic duty to bring that information to the PSNI so that this threat to public safety is brought to an end.”
SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said: “Due to the actions of those who decided it was a good idea to burn a car at the Galliagh Co-op it had been forced to close early tonight.
“These people need to think about how their actions affect the local community and stop this behaviour.”
The PSNI on their Facebook page said last night: “Another car set on fire in Galliagh. Fire Service have had to pull out due to their appliance nearly getting damaged. Please continue to give us information to keep these vehicles off the road. If you’re selling a cheap runaround ensure you complete the necessary change of ownership as you may be liable for offences.”
Earlier yesterday police said they had had “multiple reports of a Grey Citroen C5 driving recklessly in the Northern Estates”.