Belfast Telegraph

Anti-social behaviour fears at Londonderry bonfire site

By Leona O'Neill

Fears are growing over anti-social behaviour at a controversial bonfire site in Londonderry, where a stolen car and wooden pallets were set ablaze on Tuesday night.

Youths have already been gathering bonfire material on a large green area in Linear Park in the Galliagh estate for several weeks.

It comes ahead of the bonfire night on August 15 - a Catholic feast day marking the assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven.

On Tuesday night bonfire supplies were torched and a stolen car driven on top of the flaming pyre and burnt out.

Last year residents had to endure nightly fires lit at the site, as well as weeks of anti-social behaviour.

Just days before bonfire night, youths erected a sign warning that if their bonfire material was removed then they would burn down the local Spar shop.

Staff at the store were also intimidated, with one member of staff reportedly leaving work due to harassment from bonfire-building youths.

There were also issues with the illegal dumping of tyres in the area. Galliagh SDLP councillor Brian Tierney said residents were living in fear of what the next few weeks and months would bring.

"This is behaviour that residents in this area have been putting up with for far too long," he said.

"Last year we had similar incidents around the bonfire period where, on a nightly basis, there were fires lit in that field.

"We will be working together to put in place a plan to ensure that residents here do not have to face what they faced last year.

"It is now the middle of May. "We cannot have these young people running riot right across this estate from now until bonfire night."

Sinn Fein's Caoimhe McKnight urged parents to take responsibility for their children's actions.

"These actions have to be completely and utterly condemned," she said.

"The people in this community do not want and do not need this.

"The culprits responsible for this need to think of the consequences of their actions and the fear they are instilling in the community here. They need to wise up and parents also need to take responsibility for their children's actions as well."

Derry City and Strabane District councillors yesterday convened the Outer North Community Safety Team to put a plan in place with statutory partners to deal with the issue.

Meanwhile, many loyalist bonfires are being prepared for the Eleventh Night celebrations in July.

Hundreds of pallets have been stacked at Inverary playing fields in east Belfast, the scene of controversy in the past.

Last year, Belfast City Council took out an injunction in a bid to prevent the massive bonfire being built - to no avail.

Belfast Telegraph

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