Council officers to explore tumbling of derelict Meenan Square block after week of violence

Special meeting.
Special meeting.

Local council officers have been tasked with exploring a range of options, including the tumbling of the derelict Meenan Square shopping complex, as a means of preventing any future reoccurrences of the disorder that raged in the Bogside last week.

Councillors passed a motion mandating the initiative at a special meeting of the local authority on Monday afternoon.

A majority of councillors baulked, however, at calls by unionist representatives for the Fountain/Bishop Street peace wall to be raised in the wake of last week's violence.

Councillors approved by a majority a motion that "officers urgently work with all relevant agencies such as Urban Villages and the local community to bring forward options to find a resolution to the problems posed at the Meenan Square location, including the potential demolition of derelict buildings".

Members also voted by a majority to condemn the recent violence in the city with a number of independent republican councillors abstaining.

Equally, councillors backed a proposal for the Council to ask that "all relevant agencies be consulted on finding a solution to events that have recently occurred along sections of the City Walls and the Bishop Street/Fountain interface".

Nationalist and republican councillors rejected suggestions that the physical peace wall at the interface be heightened after some residents of the Fountain requested the move, however, stating that a physical security oriented solution was no solution at all.

SDLP group leader, Colr. Martin Reilly, who requested the meeting, said: "The SDLP called this special meeting as it is the only opportunity, in the absence of a functioning Assembly, to meet together in our capacity as elected representatives to say to the residents of the Bogside and the Fountain, and to those who had their work vans damaged or hijacked, that we stand with you and the acts of violence which you have had to endure have not been in our name.

“The strength of feeling of anger and frustration from local residents at what was happening was evident at the public rallies, hearing from church leaders, the trade unions, the Chamber of Commerce, local community activists and also from key political visitors to the city at the weekend.

“Today’s meeting is not simply about condemnation, as some have already tried to portray it. It is about making it clear to those who fire guns and throw petrol and blast bombs that their actions do nothing for our city or indeed for our country. Criminalising some of our vulnerable young people is no way to a United Ireland or a peaceful stable society, as Bishop McKeown passionately and elegantly said at Friday’s rally."