Belfast Telegraph

Petrol bombs hurled in sectarian attacks at Derry peace line

By Donna Deeney

Families in Londonderry's Fountain estate who live close to a peace line have pleaded for sectarian attacks to stop.

One man's seven-year-old daughter was left traumatised by a sustained onslaught of glass bottles hurled from Bishop Street on Friday night.

He said she cried herself to sleep as he called for a gate in the peace wall to be bricked up.

A sectarian attack last Thursday - when a number of petrol bombs were hurled into the Fountain from the Walls of Derry - was followed by paint bomb attacks on Friday afternoon and a barrage of glass bottles hurled over the peace wall on Friday night.

Calm has been restored since Saturday but one resident said people are anxious about more attacks.

He said: "It is extremely tense here and people are afraid that we are facing a summer where we won't be able to let our children out to play in case they get hit with a paint bomb, a petrol bomb or a glass bottle.

"Our house is close to the peace line and on Friday night there was a sustained attack where glass bottles rained down like you wouldn't believe.

"My seven-year-old daughter was absolutely terrified - she has never experienced anything like that before and she cried herself to sleep.

"No one in the Fountain wants to be living like this and I know the people on the other side of the peace line don't want it either, but there are people coming from elsewhere carrying out these attacks.

"The Department of Justice put a gate in the peace wall and it was supposed to be opened for one event but now it is open every day. I think the Department of Justice should brick up that gate completely so we can know our children are safe from sectarian attacks when they are out playing."

DUP councillor Graham Warke, who works in the Fountain, has called for calm.

He said: "We had a quiet night here on Saturday night and there has been a lot of work done over the past few days between ourselves and the City Centre Initiative.

"Tensions are high and residents' fear is understandable. Houses have been showered by petrol bombs, paint bombs and dozens and dozens of glass bottles. This needs to stop because the people in the Fountain have a right to live in their own area free from fear of sectarian attacks."

And DUP leader Arlene Foster called for more police on the ground.

Mrs Foster said: "I've been in the Fountain area many times and met the good people of that community.

"This is not the first time they have been targeted in this sectarian manner.

"It is to be condemned but I also want to see the police providing more assistance to the community who are effectively being besieged in their own homes. This campaign of hate must be halted."

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan also condemned the attacks.

"These attacks are completely reprehensible and those behind them must be brought to their senses and brought to justice," the Foyle MLA said.

"A lot of good work has been done in this interface area over the years but sadly we seem to be moving backwards in many respects. The divisive nature of politics here - where the DUP and Sinn Fein depend so much on division - is filtering down and festering on our streets.

"This manifests itself in ever-growing displays of flags, bigger bonfires and tensions between communities.

"Now is the time for cool heads and leadership in those communities and for proper political leadership here in the North, bringing people together rather than driving them apart.''

Belfast Telegraph

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