Bogside community faces down anti-social elements

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The people of the Bogside faced down those behind a spate of anti-community and sectarian attacks in the Bishop Street/Fountain area at a rally in Meenan Square last night.

Residents were joined by community representatives and young people disgusted after a weekend that saw the Fountain Estate and police attacked with petrol bombs.

In a statement issued to the ‘Journal’ residents said Saturday’s and Sunday’s disturbances were merely the latest in what have become nightly scenes of “on-street drinking, burning tyres, intimidation of residents, rioting and noise.”

“It is our opinion that none of this is motivated by politics or organised by any political grouping - rather much of it has been fuelled by alcohol and drugs,” they said.

“We encourage parents to be more vigilant as to where their children and teenagers are.

“Even those who are coming to the Bogside to spectate are adding to the issues and creating an audience for the small number who are determined to paint the Bogside in a negative light,” they added.

The trouble has provoked widespread cross-partisan condemnation.

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan said: “Wrecking and terrorising your own community or a neighbouring community is wrong and is not reflective of the proud community that is the Bogside.”

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan said: “These attacks are completely reprehensible and those behind them must be brought to their senses and brought to justice.”

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said: “There are elements within republicanism deliberately intent on trying to raise tensions in the run up to one of the largest unionist cultural expressions on Thursday.”

Independent Republican Councillor, Gary Donnelly, said: “Firing petrol bombs over a wall into a community because of their religion is completely wrong. It can not be justified. Sectarianism is anathema to republicanism and can never be condoned.”

And Liam Gallagher, chair of the Derry Trade Union Council (DTUC), said: “The only people being hurt by this reckless action are the residence of the area.

“If these attacks continue they will heighten sectarian tension and set working class youths against each other.”

The residents said that those bearing the brunt of the actions of the young people involved in last weekend’s events were their own people.

“We call on you to stop and reflect on what you are doing to your neighbours here and in the Fountain and Alexander House,” they stated.