Belfast Telegraph

Derry: 'Shots fired' as 100 youths go on the rampage

By Eamonn MacDermott

A riot that saw CS spray used, police cars badly damaged and reports of shots, has prompted a warning from police to the young people involved.

A crowd of youths invaded the Galliagh area of Londonderry on Wednesday, abusing residents before attacking police who responded to calls for assistance.

Referring to reports that shots were fired during the disturbances, the PSNI said officers were still investigating those claims. There were reports that up to 100 young people were involved in the disturbances and PSNI vehicles came under attack from youths throwing masonry in the Leafair Gardens area of the city at around 10pm.

Two of the vehicles were substantially damaged and officers used CS spray to bring the situation under control. Police say there were no injuries. Residents said they were threatened by the crowd.

A 17-year-old boy who was arrested for disorderly behaviour was later released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

Police later said they received reports that shots had been fired at around 11.20pm in the same area as the earlier disturbance.

Eyewitnesses to the trouble said that children as young as 13 and 14 could be seen drinking alcohol, fighting and urinating in gardens.

One resident said that the crowd was "totally out of control".

Steven Deery said: "They were all fighting amongst themselves and as the night went on they just got more drunk and more youths gathered and it was all chaos.

"They were breaking my fence, trying to set fire to the back garden and then we came out to try and confront them, but they didn't go away.

"They're brazen, shouting and roaring threats, firing bottles and stones down the street at each other. Eventually the whole street came out and tried to move them on but they weren't moving. Then the police landed and they just went crazy, they went mad, totally out of control.

"Everybody was fighting and throwing stones, it was frightening."

Another woman said: "I love this street and I love my neighbours on this street, but I just don't want to live here any longer with all this. It's not a good environment for children."

Chief Inspector Alan Hutton said: "While vehicles can be fixed a young person's future can't.

"Where criminality occurs we will take action and I would say to young people that to get a record can affect your education, your travel and your future."

The PSNI officer said that police would take whatever action was necessary to prevent a repeat of the trouble which he put down to "drunken youths".

Sinn Féin councillor Sandra Duffy said: "Community representatives tried their best to quell the incidents but it's a very hard situation to deal with in such circumstances."

SDLP councillor Brian Tierney said: "Residents in Galliagh are sick, sore and tired of the constant plague of anti-social behaviour and street drinking that has made life a nightmare for them and their families."

Belfast Telegraph


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