Belfast Telegraph

Thousands to fix Guildhall windows broken by footballing kids

By Donna Deeney

Ratepayers in Londonderry will have to cough up thousands of pounds for the repair of three stained-glass windows smashed in the Guildhall.

It is believed two of the windows were damaged accidentally by youths playing football in the square in front of the building.

CCTV is still being examined as to how a third came to be broken.

The high cost of repairs is because of the specialist treatment necessary for the historic windows. And while the exact breakdown of the final bill has not yet been sent to Derry City Council, a spokeswoman already confirmed it would be “thousands rather than hundreds”.

Despite the damage the council says it doesn’t want to replace the grilles that covered the windows before the recent restoration, as it wants to keep the building as accessible to the public as possible.

A spokeswoman explained: “Over the past few weeks there have been three incidents in which the windows of Derry’s historic Guildhall have been damaged — and these incidents are currently being investigated by the PSNI.

“While it has not yet been determined if the damage caused was intentional, I would encourage anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area to assist the police with their enquiries.

“The Guildhall has just undergone a major renovation, and the windows now require specialist repair work which will, unfortunately, run into the thousands.

“As the city’s most iconic historic building, I am urging the public not to engage in any activities which may result in further damage and additional cost.”

Derry mayor Brenda Stevenson appealed to young people playing in the square in front of the historic building to be mindful and careful — especially when playing ball games.

She said: “We do not believe there is anything malicious behind these breakages, but the nature of these windows means that the repairs are costly.

“Prior to the huge restoration project of the Guildhall there were metal grilles on each of the windows. But it was decided to remove them as part of the whole plan of making the Guildhall more accessible to the public and there are no plans to reinstate them.

“This is why I would ask young people who are playing in the square to be careful about the surroundings. We certainly don't want to stop them from using the square, but if they were mindful of the significance and importance of the windows on the Guildhall, it would avoid having to carry out these costly repairs.

“The difficulty is that while there might only be a small part of the stained glass window broken, a large panel will need to be removed and repaired.”

 One of Derry’s most recognisable landmarks, the Guildhall was built in 1887 on land reclaimed from the Foyle at a cost of £19,000 — equivalent to £1.5m today.

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