Belfast Telegraph

New siege of Derry as the residents of Fahan Street cower and pray for relief

By Leona O'Neill

The scene outside their living room window has resembled a war zone for several nights and residents of Fahan Street, where much of the trouble has been focused, say they are trapped in their homes and "living in fear".

On the night of July 12 some 74 petrol bombs were thrown at police along the city walls, most of them at PSNI vehicles parked at the top of the hill on Fahan Street, a road of some 20 houses leading into the city centre, where just hours earlier some 23,000 Orangemen had paraded.

Before darkness fell attempts were made to hijack vehicles in the Bogside and a youth threw a petrol bomb at a passing van on busy Lecky Road.

Barricades were dragged across the road at the flyover and at the bottom of Fahan Street and set alight as hundreds of youths congregated in the area.

As the light faded, residents battened down the hatches and prepared for a night that saw petrol bombs rain down on their doorsteps and baton rounds fired in response.

One resident, who did not wish to be identified, watched proceedings unfold from his living room window.

"It was very bad last night," he said.

"We have lived in this house for 25 years.

"We have seen it all, but that was as bad as it ever was.

"It was just constant thuds and smashing glass.

"I am fearful that this will go on and on. There were young guys of eight, nine and 10 years old out rioting.

"They should be at homes in their bed, sleeping.

"We were trapped in our home last night. And if we needed a doctor or anything they couldn't have got through to us.

"There is no back way out of these houses.

"I am afraid that they would hit the house with a petrol bomb or burn a car out in front of the house that could catch the house."

Further down the street sits a row of bungalows at St Columb's Wells facing onto Lecky Road, where youths have been congregating and burning barricades all week.

Most of the elderly residents have moved out in recent days due to the disturbances. One woman in her 80s was admitted to hospital with high blood pressure.

One of the last remaining elderly residents said: "It is very distressing living here at the moment. The lady beside me here is in her 80s.

"It was very rough here for us on Monday night and she was at her wits' end, so her family took her away for a few days.

"There is a lady at the top of the street who is 90 years old, she has mobility issues and Alzheimer's. She has stayed.

"The lady next door to her was taken into hospital the other night. Her blood pressure is sky high because of this.

"It is very, very distressing. We don't need it or don't want it. It's not fair."

People living in the Bogside are fearful that the violence will escalate.

Yesterday, police and ammunition technical officers searched a derelict building and its surroundings which the youths have been using as a "headquarters".

It is not clear if they found anything, but police are adamant that there will be more arrests.

This comes as welcome news to those living in the firing line.

Another Fahan Street resident said that after Thursday night's rioting she went into her shed to look for the metal window grilles which all the residents were given when they moved into the homes 25 years ago.

"The fronts of the houses still have the latches that they slot into, but they haven't been used in so long, maybe five or six years, that they are all rusty and broken," they said.

"It has been awful here this last few nights. All the years we had peace, and now this.

"I was in my living room when the young people started running up and pelting the police right in front of my house. I was afraid a petrol bomb would come in the window.

"There is no back way out of our houses, just out the front. I can't sleep for worrying about what the next few days will bring.

"I am praying for rain - that might stop them."

Belfast Telegraph

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