Christian leaders describe Derry street violence as an 'affront to society'

Street disorder.
Street disorder.

Church leaders in Derry have described the interface violence that's plagued the Fountain and Bogside area for the past four nights as an "affront to our society".

The Anglican Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt. Rev Ken Good, and the Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr. Donal McKeown, paid a joint visit to the Fountain and the Bogside, to meet people who had been affected by the petrol bomb attacks on the Fountain and by subsequent rioting in the Bishop Street and Lecky Road areas.

Bishop McKeown and Bishop Good with local residents.

Bishop McKeown and Bishop Good with local residents.

The clergymen met youth workers at the Cathedral Youth Club in the Fountain and residents living beside the nearby peace wall, where trouble has flared for the last four nights.

They also talked to senior citizens living in sheltered accommodation on the other side of the peace wall at Alexander House and in St Columb’s Wells, who have witnessed some of the worst of this week’s violence.

In both areas, the churchmen talked to community workers who have been trying to divert young people and quell the disturbances.

As the bishops left St Columb’s Wells, a white commercial van was abandoned at the foot of Lecky Road flyover and set on fire. By the time firefighters arrived to deal with the incident the vehicle was well alight.

Bishop McKeown and Bishop Good have issued a joint statement condemning this week’s trouble and urging parents to use their influence to stop it.

“The continuing attacks on the Fountain—indeed, attacks on people in any part of our community—are an affront to our society and deserve our unqualified condemnation,” the two bishops said.

“There is no justification for the stone-throwing and petrol bombing which has terrorised people living in the Fountain, terrified residents of Alexander House, and appalled the vast, vast majority of their fellow citizens. We are thankful that no one has been seriously injured or worse as a result of the recent attacks but recognise that we may not be so fortunate in future.

“We offer our full support to the PSNI and commend the many local community workers who work tirelessly to prevent interface violence and improve community relations.

"We applaud, too, the courage of our fellow citizens who have condemned the recent violence publicly and expressed solidarity with their neighbours in the Fountain. We encourage political representatives to do their utmost to end the stalemate which has paralysed politics in Northern Ireland.

“Parents and guardians have a particular responsibility to ensure that their sons and daughters are not involved in the kind of violent behaviour we have seen at the Fountain and Lecky Road flyover, in recent days, and we urge them to use their influence accordingly.”