'This is not the Creggan I know', says Conal McFeely, who warns of self-fulfilling prophecy of negative reportage

Conal McFeely.
Conal McFeely.

A local community worker has warned that relentlessly negative depictions of Derry’s Creggan Estate aA local community worker has warned that relentlessly negative depictions of Derry’s Creggan Estate are inflicting “sizeable reputational damage” on a proud community that doesn’t deserve it.

Conal McFeely, of Creggan Enterprises, writing after the funeral of Caomhin Cassidy-Crossan was disrupted by joyriders last Friday afternoon, claims the media are only interested in conflict.

He argues there is a real danger of this becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy and claims this was evident in the scenes witnessed last weekend.

“I have little doubt that repeated negative profiling of Creggan in the media helped set the backdrop for last weekend’s events, which saw disaffected young people from outside the area, disrupting the funeral of a vulnerable local teenager.

“If you keep setting the scene for conflict and predicting conflict, and you look hard enough for conflict, you are going to find it.

“You can do sizeable reputational damage to any neighbourhood if all you show is darkened images of angry faces, discordant soundtracks and camera-cuts to gable walls.

“But this is not Creggan. It is not representative of any Creggan I know or have known my entire life living and working here.

“It is a false representation of an extraordinarily successful and united place,” he writes.

Mr. McFeely states that media coverage, particularly after the death of Lyra McKee, has depicted “a quiet, settled village on a hill, as nothing but a gangster-ridden wasteland.”

The spotlight is rarely trained on the huge contribution Creggan has made to civic and national life in its 72 years.

“This is a community that has fostered world-renowned artists, musicians, writers, academics, film-makers, scientists, educators, business leaders and digital entrepreneurs, sportsmen and women and, of course, politicians and peace-makers.

"It has also bred generations of brilliant and determined mothers and fathers who have created such positive lives for their families under very difficult circumstances which they did not create,” he points out.