Residents protest over 'sectarian' peace wall attack
Residents of the Fountain estate in Londonderry are to stage a rally at the spot were a peace wall was breached at the weekend.
People living in the last Protestant area on the cityside have asked nationalist residents from the other side of the wall to join with them to call for an end to attacks.
A large gap in the wall which has separated the communities in the Fountain and Bishop Street for over 30 years was knocked through over the weekend, leaving residents in fear of further breaches.
People from the Fountain will gather tomorrow under a banner reading ‘Ceasefire on Fountain Residents’, and are hoping residents from Bishop Street will join them.
Alister Simpson, who has lived in the Fountain for almost 50 years, said this is the first time the wall has been breached and local people are now fearful it will happen again.
“The council were quick to carry out a temporary repair to the wall but it is only temporary and may not be as secure as the rest of it, and that needs to be addressed as soon as possible,” he said.
“This has never happened before and has left the people here fearful that it will be repeated.
“We have no doubt this was a sectarian attack. The men who did it were calling out the name of an individual, but thankfully this person did not go outside because no-one knows what would have happened.”
Fountain community worker Jeanette Warke said residents were shocked and disgusted at the attack.
A commemorative plaque in a peace garden beside the wall was also ripped out of the ground.
She said: “This protest is an indication of how concerned the residents of the Fountain are about this.
“This attack obviously took a great degree of force to cause this level of damage, not just to the wall but to the garden.
“There was so much thought and planning put into the garden to make sure both communities could share ownership and it has proved to be very popular with the tourists who you would often see standing reading the plaque.
“This has put real fear on the people but we feel it is important to stand up to the people who carried this attack out.
“We hope we will be joined by the community from Bishop Street.
“The two communities have a great relationship and we don't want anything to stand in the way of that.”
The attack on the wall is thought to have started at 1am last Saturday, while the PSNI say they received reports of the damage at 3am.
Yesterday a police spokesman said that following a review of CCTV footage they are now seeking to identify two men they believe are responsible for the attack.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan has condemned the incident and the theft of the plaque.
He said: “I unveiled this plaque along with Jeanette Warke from the Cathedral Youth Club and Catholic and Protestant children from the Bogside and Fountain areas of the city in 2007.
“Those responsible for this wanton destruction do absolutely nothing to further the vision of a shared future or contribute to the strengthening of relationships between our communities.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police at Strand Road on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.