Attempt to ‘demonise’ young bonfire builders - claim

Children, with their faces hidden, pictured yesterday constructing the controversial Bogside bonfire on the sloped green beneath Derry Walls. DER3317GS030
Children, with their faces hidden, pictured yesterday constructing the controversial Bogside bonfire on the sloped green beneath Derry Walls. DER3317GS030

Those who have been working with young people involved with the construction of a bonfire in the Bogside have said the youths were actually the victims of attacks from the direction of the City Walls last night.

Representatives from Junior McDaid House, which has been working behind the scenes engaging with the bonfire builders, said there was an attempt to paint the young people involved in the bonfire in a bad light.

In a statement issued through social media, the group stated: “It was clear that those who wished to demonise and criminalise our youth had been circling and sharpening their knives to focus solely on any negative isolated incidents.

“Yesterday, 14th August, the whole community seen the positive actions of our youth, working together to remove two tonne of tyres and clean up under the flyover.

“There was no trouble but a happy and friendly atmosphere, that was acknowledged by all present.”

The group however claimed that “armed British PSNI personnel sat in their land rovers”, while stones and bottles were fire down upon the youth of the Bogside from the City Walls.

“Later the same British police force returned directing spotlights and telescopic surveillance cameras on our youth , who responded with a number of petrol bombs,” the group said, adding:

“Junior McDaid house reps again showed leadership and spoke with the youth, advising them that all their good work would be forgotten and that this is what certain people wanted. To be fair they listened to the advice given.

“Any dialogue will have bumps in the road, but it is clear that the establishment parties do not want to give any credit to the youth for their mature decisions over the past number of days.

“Junior McDaid house will continue to show leadership when it comes to issues affecting our community, even when to do so means being attacked by certain handpicked paid mouthpieces.”

PSNI Superintendent Gordon McCalmont had earlier put the blame for the trouble on people gathered at the bonfire.

Superintendent McCalmont said: “Persons gathered at the bonfire attacked members of the community on the City Walls with bottles and rocks.

“Police who were deployed to prevent further disorder were subsequently attacked by persons who threw petrol bombs and other missiles.

“Fortunately, no injuries were sustained.

“This violent behaviour simply damages our communities, and cannot be tolerated.”

Supt. McCalmont appealed to those with influence to exert it over the coming hours.

“Tonight will see the lighting of the bonfire and I would appeal to those in the community to use their influence to control the situation so that we do not have a repeat of last night’s behaviour,” he said.

“I would like to reassure the community that we will deploy the necessary resources to detect and deter those responsible.

“Where this is not practicable at the time, we shall seek to gather evidence to bring those responsible before the courts. There will be consequences for those choosing to engage in this type of behaviour.

“Local residents do not want this kind of activity on their doorsteps and I would urge those engaged in violence and criminal damage to stay at home.”