Trouble feared as ‘Black Flag vigil’ coincides with Thatcher funeral

PSNI Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin pictured at yesterday's Press conference at Strand Road station. 1604JM12
PSNI Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin pictured at yesterday's Press conference at Strand Road station. 1604JM12

Fears are mounting ahead of an event being held at Free Derry Corner tomorrow to coincide with the funeral of former British PM Margaret Thatcher.

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement event was initially billed as an evening party and a ‘bring a bottle’ event, but has since been restyled as a black flag vigil in the afternoon in memory of the hunger strikers.

Police yesterday challenged organisers, the 32CSM, to cancel the meeting, as local tensions are running high following the latest series of interface issues and petrol bomb attacks. PSNI officers responding to those incidents at the Fountain interface came under sustained petrol bomb attack during the weekend. More than 30 petrol bombs were thrown.

Confirming increased police resources have been drafted into Derry as a result of the mounting tensions, PSNI Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin, said: “I would ask the organisers, can you control the people you will bring out on our streets? I don’t think they can. I’m concerned about Wednesday and the whole rationale about this party.

“My message is, call it off. Be brave enough to call it off. Show some leadership and call it off before the situation gets out of control.

“Organisers are encouraging people to bring drink etc, and what image does that give of this city? This is not what we want for our city, especially in this city of culture year. The rest of the city leaders want it called off, call it off.”

Community activist, Charlie McMenamin said: “I would appeal to anyone organising events in the area to leave it in the same way you found it. I would urge people to show respect and understanding of others, and that includes the PSNI.

“We’ve been working hard on the ground all week to ensure there is no trouble. There has been a wealth of good work done in the area from youth and community workers.”

When asked about the civil distubances over the last few nights, Mr. McMenamin said: “This is recreational rioting. The fears of the residents in the Fountain are understandable but the vast majority of local children are good wains. There have been groups of 60 and 70 young people but the majority of them are not from the Bogside.

“They are coming to witness the actions of a small minority.”

The ‘Journal’ attempted to contact the 32 CSM for a comment but was unable to do so.

A statement on their website called on “All republicans to attend a Black Flag vigil in memory of the 10 Hunger Strikers whose lives were lost as a result of a criminalisation campaign enforced upon Irish Republican POWs by British tyrant Margaret Thatcher.”

The event is due to commence at Free Derry at 2pm tomorrow.