Rathmore Crescent residents are no longer ‘living in fear’

Joan McConnell has lived in Rathmore Crescent for almost 38 years.

Thirteen years ago, Joan and the vast majority of the people living in the street signed a petition which set out to restrict access to the back alleys in the area.

Rathmore Crescent residents pictured with Councillor Kevin Campbell from the TRIAX Neighbourhood Management Team at one of the newly installed alley gates in the area. From left, Joan McConnell, Sinn Fein Colr. Kevin Campbell, Patricia Brady, Teena Friel and her young son Adam Friel. (RC0509AQ01)

Rathmore Crescent residents pictured with Councillor Kevin Campbell from the TRIAX Neighbourhood Management Team at one of the newly installed alley gates in the area. From left, Joan McConnell, Sinn Fein Colr. Kevin Campbell, Patricia Brady, Teena Friel and her young son Adam Friel. (RC0509AQ01)

“The last 13 years have been an absolute nightmare. The amount of antisocial behaviour that has occurred as a direct result of the ease of access to the alley behind my house is unbelievable.”

The area Joan referred to is like many other back alleys in Derry and several other residents said young people have been using the alleys as a place to drink, take drugs and have sex.

In recent months, Joan, who lives alone, woke in the middle of the night to loud voices coming from her back garden.

Joan got dressed and went outside to talk to the group of young people. She kindly asked if they wouldn’t mind keeping the noise down and suggested they move on.

“I went back into the house and the next morning one of my windows had been broken - we’ve been living in fear here for too long.

“I am delighted that these gates have been installed now - we just want to be able to live in peace and quiet,” added Joan.

Patricia Brady, who lives next door to Joan, said her daughter’s bicycle was stolen from her back yard last week and resident of 23 years Teena Friel explained that she was afraid to go out and fetch coal when young people were in the alley way.

“My coal bunker is literally beside my back door but before the gates went in there could be 15 to 20 young people in the alley and I would be terrified to go out. My husband had to chase about 12 young people out of our yard one time. Hopefully now with the newly installed gates we will no longer have to live in fear.”

Last year, Joan contacted Sinn Fein Councillor and TRIAX Neighbourhood Management Team worker, Kevin Campbell and Donna Hutton (also from TRIAX).

Two weeks ago, the gates were installed and each resident has their own personal set of keys to ensure the gates remain locked at all times.

“Joan explained to us what the residents of Rathmore Crescent were having to endure on a regular basis so after conducting a survey of the area we got the feeling that residents wanted access to the back alleys restricted.

“We went at the issue with a multi-agency approach and we also took it to the TRIAX Community Safety Sub Group.

“We brought representatives from Derry City Council, the Housing Executive, the Department for the Environment and Apex Housing up to Rathmore Crescent to meet with the residents,” said Colr. Campbell.

“We think this multi-agency approach really worked because after a while the wheels were put into motion and the Housing Executive stepped forward and paid for the installation of the gates.

“I hope that the gates help the residents get some much deserved peace and quiet now,” he said.