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A former Mayor of Derry has voiced concerns over sporadic clashes - some of them between rival sectarian gangs - in and around the city’s Peace Bridge.

DUP Councillor Drew Thompson says there has been an increase in incidents over recent weeks including a group of young people wearing Northern Ireland shirts being forced to flee St Columb’s Park last weekend.

“I have been made aware of a number of incidents over recent weeks in and around St Columb’s where young people have been congregating and there has been a bit of argy bargy.” he says.

The councillor says such confrontation is among a range of issues affecting the Peace Bridge and says perhaps consideration should be given to additional security measures being introduced.

“This is certainly something which needs to be highlighted and I would support the need for increased security in the area,” he says.

The ‘Journal’ also understands that similar concerns were raised at a meeting of the Civic Alcohol Forum last Friday.

It is understood those concerns were raised after reports that gangs of young people used the internet and text messages to arrange a sectarian fight on the bridge on the evening of St Patrick’s Day.

Police confirmed they are aware that fights are being organised online.

“Police in Foyle are aware of organised fights being arranged via social networking sites and are appealing for anyone with information on these to report them to police,” said a PSNI spokeswoman.

“Police would strongly encourage parents to take an active interest in their children’s social networking sites and talk to them about the dangers of getting caught up in this sort of dangerous and anti-social behaviour.”

Derry City Council says it has received no formal complaints concerning anti social or sectarian issues in and around the bridge.

“However the Council works proactively with a range of agencies with regard to interventions for anti-social behaviour and misuse of alcohol in public places through the Civic Alcohol Forum,” a spokeswoman added.