Bogside residents, church leaders and politicians have appealed for the community to be let live in peace ahead of tomorrow’s Apprentice Boys of Derry march.
Violence erupted in the Bogside following last year’s march and local residents - particularly those living in Fahan Street and St Columb’s Wells - claimed they were “prisoners” in their own homes as dozens of petrol bombs were thrown and cars hijacked and set on fire. This year community leaders have organised a street festival in the Bogside for tomorrow in order to prevent a repetition of last year’s violence.
Local residents have urged people to support the community festival and not get involved in violence.
Eileen Allen from Lisfannon Park said: “I’ve lived here more than 20 years and residents don’t want to see another day like last August. It isn’t fair on the residents, many of whom are elderly or sick, and it isn’t fair on the local children. I fully support people’s right to protest but residents don’t want the violence they had to endure last year. As a local resident I’m really pleased we’re having a fun day and support it 100%.”
Her call was backed by other residents, who were too afraid to be identified. “We have lived here all our lives. We have reared children and grandchildren and have the best of neighbours but we cannot go through another night like the 12th of July; to see wains running around drunk and rioting as people stood about and watched was awful.
“The atmosphere was terrible and there was no talking to the young ones. We just want to live in peace in our own area and are asking people to give us a chance. We live here and don’t want to be prisoners in our own homes,” they said.
Bogside community worker, Maureen Collins said: “I would appeal to people to respect the residents of the Bogside and let them have a peaceful day and a peaceful night.”