Disgust at poppy wreaths on Bogside bonfire and petrol bomb attacks

A large controversial bonfire was erected on a derelict site in the Bogside. Union flags, poppy wreaths and British Army regimental flags have been placed on the pyre by nationalist youths. �George Sweeney / Alamy Live News
A large controversial bonfire was erected on a derelict site in the Bogside. Union flags, poppy wreaths and British Army regimental flags have been placed on the pyre by nationalist youths. �George Sweeney / Alamy Live News

Local representatives have expressed disgust after poppy wreaths were placed on a bonfire in the Bogside area last night, while police said they came under attack from petrol bombers nearby.

PSNI Chief Inspector Paul McCracken said: “Police have received a number of reports that material, some of which is clearly distasteful and offensive, had been placed on a bonfire in the Meenan Drive area of Derry/Londonderry yesterday.

“We are treating this as a hate crime and we are seeking to identify those responsible, and I would ask anyone with information that can help identify the perpetrators to contact us.

“We take hate crime very seriously and actively investigate all incidents reported to us. Hate crime is wrong on all levels and the PSNI will do everything it can to ensure that everyone, from whatever background, can live free from prejudice, fear and discrimination.”

He added: “During the course of last night, three petrol bombs were thrown at police in the area of the city’s Walls.

“A 35-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of making, possessing and throwing a petrol bomb and remains in police custody at this time.”

Hundreds of people watched last night as fire-fighters were drafted in to douse derelict buildings next to the bonfire in the Meenan Square area of the Bogside.

Fire-fighters also expressed concern over a nearby electrical substation which powers over 800 homes in the area.

A small group of youths were still gathered around the dying embers of the bonfire at around 7am this morning.

Speaking ahead of the bonfire being set alight last night, DUP Derry City & Strabane District Councillor Graham Warke claimed the same poppy wreaths had been stolen from a war memorial in the city earlier this summer.

“The thing that is really sickening to me and disgusting to me at the minute is these three poppy wreaths on the bonfire.

“These three poppy wreaths were laid on July 1 at the War Cenotaph and they were to represent everybody from this city who fought in Word War 1.

“On July 3 these three poppy wreaths were stolen and it was reported to the PSNI.”

Several nationalist representatives have also condemned the emblems and flags being placed on the bonfire.

There have also previously been concerns raised over Irish, nationalist and Republican emblems and election posters being torched on bonfires in Loyalist areas of the city.

Meanwhile the fire show, concert and children’s August 15th celebrations held just yards from the large bonfire in the neighbouring Gasyard area of the Brandywell yesterday evening have been hailed as a great success by local representatives.