Belfast Telegraph

Community worker tells of despair as she watched the violence

By Mark Bain

A community worker in the Bogside said she has watched in horror as the violence unfolded.

Linda McKinney, who is manager at the Gasyard Development Trust Community Centre in Londonderry, said the events have left her questioning her role with the young people of the area and she feels she's "letting the community down".

She said: "We have put so much hard work into giving the youth of Derry activities. If we now allow sinister elements to undo all that work we're allowing them to take away our right to live in peace.

"I've spent the week asking myself 'can I do more?'. There are wonderful opportunities for us all to succeed in this city. I'm begging people not to throw it all away.

"There has been a very small element of young people involved in anti-social behaviour before, but what they have done is to allow more sinister elements to step in with their own agenda and use the situation to get their own message across.

"It's not in the name of our community. People are scared. Elderly people are being left without vital services and lives are now being threatened.

"People need to think about who exactly they're affecting by their actions."

Linda said that amazing progress had been made over the last 15 to 20 years to build bridges in the city, but an element wanted to destroy that.

And she called for the redevelopment of derelict buildings around Meenan Square, which had become a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour.

She said: "There has been talk about redevelopment, but I'd urge that process to be sped up as soon as possible. There's a real opportunity to create a beautiful place for the community to be proud of.

"Sometimes you're left feeling powerless," she admitted. "But we can't afford to give up.

"We will continue to reach out, to engage with the community and to build a better future across the city."

Belfast Telegraph

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