Residents have their say on Bogside bonfire

Residents in the Bogside have said that the bonfire must be moved to another location next year, with one woman comparing the fall out to “living in a slum”.

Several residents spoke of their concerns as the clean up operation got under way in the Bogside on Tuesday morning.

Deirdre Conaghan with her granddaughter Lauren Gallagher.

Deirdre Conaghan with her granddaughter Lauren Gallagher.

Deirdre Conaghan who lives in Abbott’s Walk, said she did not mind a bonfire being staged as such, but the location was a major issue.

“It shouldn’t have been in the middle of the roads for safety reasons, for the residents here and in the Wells.

“In fairness, there wasn’t that much bother to be honest that I heard of. There was a representative down on Sunday trying to get it put up to the banking, but because the police came in heavy handed and tried to lift the pallets, that’s why they retaliated and put it there.

“I’m a resident here and all I want is the street cleaned and all this anti-social beahviour to stop at the weekends because we are persecuted with it.”

Mary Nelis from Dove Gardens.

Mary Nelis from Dove Gardens.

She added that the bonfire should be staged in the outdoor area within the Gasyard grounds.

Elaine Doherty, also from Abbott’s Walk, added; “I definitely agree there should be a bonfire here for the young people but this is not the place, 10 to 15 yards from people’s homes.

“We were absolutely tortured last night. I had my two-year-old and the noise last night was absolutely horrendous. We’re waking up to this the last three weeks, the anti-social behaviour. It’s just not fair. We are left to pick up the pieces around here and it’s just not on.

“I think there should be more talks with the residents next year to get our views, and that every resident is invited.

Elaine Doherty from Abbots Walk.

Elaine Doherty from Abbots Walk.

“I own my own house, I pay my rates and for what? For my area to look like this?”

Mary Nelis (81) from Dove Gardens said: “My feelings has been one of dismay and anger for the last couple of months as I watched young people- the minority I have to say- collecting all this rubble and putting notices up on the wall threatening people if they tried to move it.

“I’m 81 I was born in the Bogside, I live in the Bogside, my quality of life at the moment is nil because of the slum that I am forced to live in because of a minority of young people who are dictating to me at 81 years of age.

“I fought all my life to have this area redeveloped when I worked in Dove House, and now a number of young people is going to tell me how I’m going to live and what I’m going to do, and I have no rights and they are going to do whatever they like?”

Martina Anderson pictured in the Bogside on Tuesday.

Martina Anderson pictured in the Bogside on Tuesday.

Foyle Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson, whose poster was among several political posters placed on the bonfire, said:

“It’s not the first time that elected representatives have had their posters put on bonfires. It’s wrong and it should be challenged by everyone.

“It’s an incitement to hatred and we as elected representatives are working very hard to try and change the conditions people are living in the communities we come from.

“It’s unfortunate some of the people would have that kind of hatred instilled in them. Most of the young people here are very decent young people and what we have seen last night aren’t representative of the vast majority of the great young people in this city.”

She said: “I’m a resident of the Bogside and the fact that 84% of the residents who were surveyed said they didn’t want this- this was not done in their name, and I heard an elected representative say this was an act of defiance. This was an act of defiance against the community, who did not want this.

“Last night there was a great feeling of festivity in the Gasyard and all over this city and in Creggan, in the Waterside, in Shantallow, and it was feile, festival, fun, music and dance. It was for children and young people and parents, and those are the kind of activities that the residents of the Bogside, Brandywell, Creggan, Top Of the Hill, Shantallow and Galliagh all want to see.

“They don’t want this. This was not done for the community. This was done against the community.”

Ms Anderson also praised workers from Derry City & Strabane District Council for coming in to clean up the broken glass and other debris across the area.

Fire & Rescue personnel were also on the scene on Tuesday morning dampening the smouldering remains of the bonfire.