Belfast Telegraph

Concerns grow after threat to torch Derry shop if bonfire material seized

By Leona O'Neill

Tensions are rising ahead of next Tuesday's controversial bonfires in Londonderry with hundreds of tyres being shipped into the Bogside.

A sign has also been erected in Galliagh threatening to burn down a local shop if bonfire material is lifted.

Hundreds of tyres and wooden pallets are piling up under the Lecky Road flyover ahead of the planned bonfire in the Bogside which as yet has no set location.

Fears are growing that young people will again construct the pyre in the middle of the road, near two pipelines which run on either side of the road and supply gas to hundreds of homes in the area.

Last year youths partially blocked the bottom of the Lecky Road flyover - a main road in and out of the city - with a 20ft pyre. The structure was adorned with Union, Orange Order and Northern Ireland football flags, as well as several Sinn Fein election posters.

There was also a poppy wreath and flags commemorating those who died at the Somme burnt on the bonfire.

The massive pyre, which is lit to mark the Assumption of the Virgin Marty into Heaven, was built on the road after bonfire material was removed a few days before it was due to be lit.

Several thousand people packed into the Bogside to watch it burn.

In recent weeks consultations had been held in the area by local community group Dove House and young people to try and defuse tensions and incorporate a smaller, less contentious bonfire into the Bogside's Feile celebrations.

However, the community group said young people have "refused to be part of this and want to have a bonfire which would involve burning flags".

Independent councillor Paul Gallagher, chairman of Derry City and Strabane District Council's bonfire committee, said that he was willing to meet with the young people and try and reach an agreement on the contentious pyre as time runs out.

"If the young people in the Bogside were looking to have a bonfire with no tyres and work around the reduction of hate crime, I will be prepared to meet them and facilitate around those two issues that would minimise the risk to the young people themselves and the risk to the entire community of the Bogside," he said.

Meanwhile, a sign has been erected near a bonfire in the Galliagh estate warning that if bonfire wood is taken, a local shop will be burnt down.

The sign reading 'If the wood goes, the Co-op goes' appeared at the site on Fairview Road on Tuesday night, causing anger among local residents.

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