Three nights of disturbances in the Galliagh area of Londonderry, including an arson attack on a electricity sub-station, during which police have been attacked with petrol bombs and other items, have been blamed on a “hardcore” element by the PSNI.
A “youth worker” in the same BBC report concurs
Mr Connolly said: “It’s clearly been totally anti-social vandalism – no motive behind it all all – and people can use the excuse of a bonfire but it’s got nothing to do with a bonfire.”
…Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney said he had visited the area in recent nights and agreed with Mr Connolly that the violence was “opportunistic”.
“There is absolutely no doubt that there are a number of anti-social elements who used the opportunity to simply visit wanton destruction and violence on the PSNI and on ordinary citizens driving through the Glengalliagh road, he said.
But the Irish Times report has some interesting background
The disturbances appear to be in response to the removal of material for a bonfire planned for Galliagh on August 15th. According to local SDLP councillor, Jimmy Carr, the annual bonfire is a long-standing tradition.
Last year, trouble erupted at the bonfire, including anti-social behaviour and allegations of a sexual assault. Recent talks between community representatives, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the PSNI broke down, before a decision was made to clear away debris. [added emphasis]
“I sympathise with both sides,” Mr Carr said. “I can see why many of the older residents want any bonfire to be properly policed and regulated, because of last year’s trouble. I also sympathise with the young people in the area who want to keep up the tradition and feel that’s being denied them.”
The PSNI said it was the council who had removed the debris, “after consultation with the local community”.
A few questions arise. Such as who exactly were involved in those talks, and what were they about? And why did those talks “break down”?
Adds As Nevin notes below, a Derry Journal report from Friday 20 July states
A meeting was held earlier this week between residents, the Housing Executive, the PSNI, youth agency Off The Streets, Community Restorative Justice and local councillors in order to find a way forward.
Following that meeting a spokesperson for the HE said they “would respect the real concerns of the residents and make every reasonable effort to remove the bonfire material gathered on the site.”
Although, the Housing Executive District Manager, Eddie Doherty, is also quoted describing that meeting as “positive”…