Belfast Telegraph

Calls for calm after bonfire material at Derry interface set alight

Graham Warke
Graham Warke
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Community representatives in Londonderry are appealing for calm following clashes at an interface area.

The calls follow incidents that culminated in bonfire material that had been collected for the Apprentice Boys commemoration being set on fire.

Community workers from the Irish Street and Top of the Hill areas in the Waterside quickly restored calm at 11.30pm on Monday. But a group of youths rampaged through Irish Street estate in the early hours of yesterday and lit the bonfire material before they were chased off.

Niree McMorris said residents are concerned.

She said: "I received a call about young people gathering at the interface and went there along with community workers from Top of the Hill and the police, and we were able to calm things down and get the young people to leave.

"A few hours later I was called again and told the bonfire material collected for the August 11 night was on fire.

"A group of four or five youths were running around Irish Streets, singing chants and shouting beforehand, and I know some of the local residents went out and chased these boys off."

She said the incidents had created tensions, adding that elderly people living in Irish Street have been left fearful.

She added: "So much work has been done in recent years between the communities of Irish Street and Top of the Hill and no one wants to see all that good work lost.

"I would like to see an increased police presence in the area from now until the end of the marching season, so we can celebrate our culture in peace and without interference."

Local DUP councillor Graham Warke called for people to remain calm. He said: "Community relations in this part of the Waterside have been really good for the past number of years and that came as a result of hard work and everyone wants that to remain the case.

"We are just two weeks or so away from the August 12 celebrations and I would call for calm in the run-up to that and for no retaliation."

He urged anyone with information on the trouble to contact police.

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