The Fountain: A part of Londonderry that Derry forgot…

Nice observational piece here from Middlemarch on Listenderry… A writer from a nationalist background who took a quiet walk into and around the tiny Fountain area: the only part of Derry city’s west bank which retains a substantial Protestant population…

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  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Grim as hell. Best solution is some sort of cross community ”neighbourhood watch’ – but presumably that has little support or it would be implemented already.

    One of the reason kids drink on the streets is because (understandably) they are not allowed to drink in pubs, but on balance it is probably better if they are allowed to do so if they are going to do it anyway.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Certainly cant be easy to be a “minority culture” surrounded by a seemingly hostile “majority culture”.
    But the residents of the Fountain in Derry seem to have fared better than the residents of Short Strand in Belfast.

    On balance would it be preferable to be a Protestant resident of the Fountain or a Catholic resident of Short Strand?

  • Michael

    The fountain/bishop street area is like a little bit of belfast in the north west.

  • Michael

    I would say you’re better off as a Catholic resident of the short strand. The fountain residents are as much forgotten by unionist politicians as anyone else. I had a lecturer from the fountain who used to tell me that a man in a bowler hat would appear once every few years waving a union jack and they would go vote for him. The rest of the time, no one bothered with them.

  • Greenflag

    A sad story. as for the ‘two proud traditions’ held by the opposing locals . What is there to be proud about in smashing your neighbour’ s windows and making life unbearable for them ?

    Probably the only way this will ever stop is if the local so called ‘parents ‘ are sterilised – but even then that would take another couple of generations to have any beneficial social impact .

    Just another legacy of the ‘rotten’ state that was /is and will ever be NI as long as it maintains it’s existence in it’s present format .

  • Brian Walker

    It has to be remembered that the Fountain like much of the Bogside has been rebuilt twice in 50 years. Once, the Protestant area stretched the length of the south side ofBishop St to beyond the old St Columbs’ College ( now Lumen Christi). The housing was mixed, from susbtantial terrace houses to the cottages of Wapping Lane with earth floors and roof space for bedrooms that survived until the 1960s. Kennedy Place housed the substantial HQ of the City of Londonderry and Foyle Unionist Association. The area survives as a political gesture, a tiny walled city all on it own, taking in the site of the 18th century City gaol demolished in the early 70s for the appalling first redevelopment.A crenellated turret of the gaol was preserved by popular ( unionst ) request.

    My second cousin Alistair Wilson is a chronicler of the Fountain’s Life and Times.

    I’m far away form the Founain but I wonder if its survival is now viable at this size. The politics of taking any kind of action seems incredibly difficult, if the aim is to create a decent quality of life.

  • Turgon

    The News Letter has an article on the Fountain today.

  • White Horse

    The fountain should be reintegrated with the rest of the city and a Nationalist majority should develop there – for peace’s sake. To do otherwise is to perpetuate the old unionist position that they are the guardians of something good and holy in the face of Roman opposition. These people are just being used to guard the gates of the city so as to allow the marchers to tumble into what they call a unionist area. There is endless evil in this.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Awful idea.
    All over the North there are pockets of isolated communities. Willowfield in East Belfast for example has a small Catholic enclave. The Bannfoot near maghery has an isolated Protestant community.
    They should be nourished.

  • White Horse

    They should be given grants to move if that helps.

  • Turgon

    White Horse,
    Your suggestion looks like an attempt at a politically correct way of saying remove the unionists. Allowing a nationalist majority to develop? How might that happen: by removing the unionists is the obvious mechanism.

    The people in the Fountain are not guarding anything other than possibly their property. They would no doubt much rather just get on with their lives. Most people here do not spend all their time guarding, defending or being used for anything political.

    Saying that they are guarding something is a way of saying that somehow they are something other than what they actually are. That is that they are simply people trying to get on with their lives in their own homes. Your comments are a very thinly disguised way of saying the Prods should get out.

    The residents of the Fountain have the right to live there and live there is peace, Any suggestions otherwise are gross bigotry and are attempts to promote what can only be described as a form of ethnic cleansing.

  • The Fountain is part of the city. Its inhabitants citizens of the city.

    If a credible cross-community response were available, then there wouldn’t be a problem. But that must include people that have some authority, or responsibility, that would make a difference.The young people (and sometimes not so young) who attack The Fountain listen to no-one.

    The fundamental issue for residents, particularly the elderly residents, is one of safety. They feel abandoned and increasingly vulnerable. Despite all the funding poured into the city and all the many many agencies that one might think would make a mega-multi agency approach possible, and might be capable of imagining and implementing a credible response, nothing substantial is being done on the ground to increase a sense of security for the residents.

  • White Horse

    What about all the policing, fencing and endless disruption of having them there guarding the gates of the city for the loyal orders. It’s about time we wised up to this problem rather than let it fester.

    There is nothing “thinly disguised” about anything I write. I don’t advocate getting the Prods out but its an idea and if grants helped, all the better.

  • Michael

    In the 80’s in St Columbs, saps (second years) would dare yaps (first years) to walk the wall after school and risking a hiding from the fountain boys as part of an initiation.

    These days, the fountain lads and bogside lads make a show of raiding each others flags at night and posting their spoils on bebo.

  • White Horse
    Every one of your comments could be turned round as follows:

    Take a very predominantly unionist town. The majority of its citizens are very supportive and proud of its Orange traditions. A small part of the town in one area is preventing the rest of the town taking part in one of its cultural displays. The best solution would be to move the residents away from that area. Maybe grants or whatever should be used but eventually the solution is to reintergrate the community and a unionist majority develop. To do otherwise is is to perpetuate the old nationalist position that they are the victims of unionist opposition. After all they are guarding the area and being used by politicians.

    I do not advocate any of what I have typed above in any way but it is merely the mirror image of what you have said.

  • Michael
  • The town name I deliberately left out of the above comment is of course Portadown and the nationalist area Garvaghy Road.

    I do not support the idea of removing the nationalist population of the Garvaghy Road but neither do I support the removal of the unionist community of the Fountain.

    If you support the end of the unionist Fountain do you also support the end of the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

    I am against ethnic cleansing of any sort: are you?

  • Barnshee

    The people should be rehoused the area raised to the ground and a as amemorial to the 17000 odd prods murderd,intimidated. Then fuck the whole of the city side into the ROI and listen to the squels

  • Mrazik


    Are you Ceauşescu in disguise? YOu make reintegrated has sound Orwellian.

  • Mrazik


    Are you Ceauşescu in disguise? You make reintegrated sound Orwellian.

  • Greenflag

    Turgon is right and it’s not often I have to admit it ,

  • White Horse


    I don’t see the parallel. Of course on a superficial level there is a similarity, but no parallel on a deeper level. The problem in both scenarios is the Prods and their behaviour. In both situations they are in the wrong from an objective point of view. On both occasions the purpose of their behavior is to assert that their neighbours are inferior or ungodly whereas the reality is that God could only ever be on the side of those who live their lives at peace with God and their neighbours.

  • Greenflag

    If and when the repartition of NI becomes inevitable then communities on both sides of the divide should be allowed to relocate voluntarily and in that context ‘grants’ could be a help .

    But until then the NI authorities should be leaving no stone unturned to help out these isolated communities wherever they are and from whichever side of the NI political divide they hail .

  • White Horse,
    So the Prods of the Fountain are wrong in which sense? The living on the Cityside sense? Is it wrong for Prods to live where they want? Are only certain people allowed to live in certain areas?

    The purpose of the Fountain Prods is I suspect the same as anyone else’s: to get on with their lives. This lumping of all the Fountain inhabitants together and ascribing to them the overriding motive of opposing the other community is utter nonsense. It is also deeply and unpleasantly racist. Your use of it to justify proposing their removal is shockingly sectarian and bigoted.

  • Michael

    Obviously WH is wrong here Turgon.

    As a unionist, one with a party affiliation, what do you think can be done for the residents of the fountain, do you think they have been let down by those they vote for, do you think they need a (this isn’t an attempt to get your hackles up) Gerry Kelly?

  • Michael,
    I agree the residents of the Fountain have not received the support they needed from the politicians. To be honest the unionist politicians have never been that good at helping working class communities.

    The mainstream unionist parties have been too focused on the middle and upper working class communities though to be fair the Labour Party in GB has been just as bad in this regard. They have left behind and ignored what have become practically sink estates.

    The PUP et al. have actually been no better and rather than helping these communities have been the political mouth pieces of the loyalist thugs who have often fed off many of these same communities (especially in Belfast).

    The unionist politicians need to call for radically more security for the areas and also for significant redevelopment.

    However, the enormous issue: in my view much bigger than any other is that the local communities need to be supported by the politicians in their demand that they are protected by the forces of law and order. The police need to make a huge effort to stop the attacks on the Fountain (or any other isolated enclave of either side). This will inevitably mean the arrest of the miscreants who are attacking those areas. A zero tolerance policy is needed on anti social behaviour.

    I am not trying to stoke sectarian issues but the unionist politicians also need to demand that the political representatives on the nationalist side step up to the mark on this issue and adopt a zero tolerance policy on attacks on the unionist community. Nationalist community representatives need to welcome the arrest of and prosecution of anti social elements for attacks on unionist areas. Unionists need to hold nationalist politicians to account on this (the opposite way round is also obviously necessary).

    Then after the enforcement of a zero tolerance policy there needs to be major structural investment in the likes of the Fountain: a problem in the current economic climate. Gradually it would become a nice place to live and shed its sink estate and siege like situation. The people would return and it would become a virtuous circle of regeneration rather than a vicious circle of decline.

    I think the problem in NI is that we have frequently tried the investment strategy without the law and order strategy. The two go hand in hand.

    I am no expert but a few thoughts.

  • Greenflag

    ‘whereas the reality is that God could only ever be on the side of those who live their lives at peace with God and their neig

    What ‘reality’ ? Have you spoken to God and if you have which God have you spoken to ? The God of the New Testament the Jewish carpenter who was a bit of a loud mouth and rebel who was crucified for his failure to accept the status quo of the empire (Roman ) or was it the Old Testament Jehovah who was very much into smiting and exterminating the enemies of the chosen people and who according to paleontoligists caused for several mass exterminations of in total 99% of the life forms he/she /it is supposed to have created ?

    Remember theologians are not unlike economists . Every religion which is not theirs is an invention of men while their own is an emanation from God (their God -not the other false gods )

    Stuff and nonsense of course but just as there’s no point in discussing the more barbaric aspects of Islam with an ayatollah there”s not much to be learned from entering a debate on the rights and wrongs of catholics versus protestants in Northern Ireland . They are ALL victims of their own stupidity and ignorance their local history and if in some places like Derry it’s slightly or far worse than other places then that’s just variation along the ‘abnormal ‘ distribution curve for the province’s residents ;(

  • We are rarely honest with ourselves. It is always someone elses fault, even if the someone was centuries ago. In the past forty years the world has moved on, and yet there are still these enclaves of hatred, on both sides.

    It shames us. It shames Britain, but it shames Ireland too. Middlemarch took a stroll he should have taken long ago, well done him.

  • Greenflag

    ‘there needs to be major structural investment in the likes of the Fountain: a problem in the current economic climate.’

    And the solution to this problem accoring to Conservative Party Minister Ian Duncan Smith is to provide ‘incentives ‘ to enable those people living in such areas to ‘escape’ to areas where there are jobs ? Now where would that be in NI ?

    Apparently the main reason why most Britons stay where they are aprt from regional preference and local sense of place is because if they move they risk losing a home to live in i.e an affordable roof over their heads . This restriction does not of course apply to the top 25% of the population but it certainly applies to those who live in sink estates like the Fountain and elsewhere in NI and the UK .

    Trying to get ‘investment ‘ into these areas is problematic . It’ll take more than words for a descending economic and social spiral to reverse it’s trend .As of now the politicians with the financial powers are a bit more worried about the USA , UK , ROI and the other EU countries than a remote city in a remote province . It’s the way of the world .

  • TheHorse

    “I am not trying to stoke sectarian issues but the unionist politicians also need to demand that the political representatives on the nationalist side step up to the mark on this issue and adopt a zero tolerance policy on attacks on the unionist community”.

    You are trying to somehow suggest this sort of activity is widespread, it is not, there are isolated incidents but these are condemned and rightly so by all shades of Nationalism. While you’re calling on Nationalist politicians to adopt zero tolerance policy on these sectarian attacks could you also call on Unionist Politicians to adopt a similar approach in regards to the annual attacks on anyone it seems who is not Unionist around the village area of Belfast, it seems Catholics, Chinese, Polish, Romanians, Indians, anyone generally, other than a protestant, can live around that area, this has been ongoing for years I remember even a while back a local Unionist councillor headed the mob of a few hundred yobs demanding the Taigs get out.

  • Greenflag

    As well meaning as it may be I really think any suggestion by a tory or any one else to: “Get on their bikes! will not go down well in any area.

    Investment, fat chance. The best hope is the City of Culture, if that is awarded to Derry, there will be a need to spruce the place up. It might be minimal but it would be investment.

  • Michael

    Tbh, Turgon, I don’t think the fountain residents ever get any help from their politicians. Like I mentioned in my first post, a lecturer I had who grew up in the fountain was very dismissive of unionist politicians, a sentiment that is reinforced in both the newpaper articles from the sentinel and the newsletter.

    Attacks in and around the fountain/bishop street areas come from both sides, tensions are raised by both sides, iron grills cover windows on both sides. So I don’t think it’s fair to demand that nationalist politicians do X,Y Z when that action is clearly missing from both sides.

    the biggest problem in that area is drunken boys and men of both hues meeting at the corner of abercon and wapping after old firm games. In that respect the area is no different from so many other areas in the north.

    What makes the fountain different is it’s location not it’s situation. Which is probably why I’m not overly enthused about the original article from a writting POV, it was all a bit generic.

  • The Horse,
    I suppose you missed the fact that I pointed out “(the opposite way round is also obviously necessary).” in the comment you quoted. However, do not let that stop you from saying what you wish I had said.

    I oppose all such attacks and believe that all people should be free from attack in their own homes without having to move or indeed being encouraged to move. I apply that equally to Londonderry, Coleraine, Portadown, Belfast etc. That is clearly not a position you share. There is little to be gained by debating with someone such as you. Can you even understand that the residents of the Fountain simply want to get on with their lives? They do not exist solely or mainly to annoy nationalists. That is the conceit at the heart of all such complaints about enclaves of “the other side”. It exists the other way round in the inappropriate and bigoted things unionists sometimes say about nationalist enclaves as well of course.

    All such nonsense is to be condemned utterly and unreservedly. I condemn it from whatever quarter and as I said above it requires robust action from all to stop it. Otherwise this insidious cancer spreads and becomes an undramatic but equally as divisive form of ethnic cleansing.

  • The Horse,
    Sorry I thought you were the same person as White Horse. I trust you are not and that indeed you accept that my condemnation applies to unionists attacking nationalist enclaves just as much as vice versa.

  • Greenflag

    ‘We are rarely honest with ourselves.’

    I’d have said it’s rarer than rare in NI . The ‘ruling ‘ elite on both sides of the divide including the politicians and the churchmen are as averse to honesty as Vlad the Impaler was to sunlight ;(!

    Now that Horseman recently and all to sadly departed did’nt mince his words and gave out the numbers without fear or favour . One of his last pieces on the Ulster Soviet Socialist Republic lays out the NI economic dilemma in all it’s abject woefulness . The NI ‘politicians ‘ do not have any answers and neither have they powers to do very much about anything . They for the most part have become just 108 tribal icons to be added to the already long list of tribal totems that divide the dysfunctional province that nobody wanted to see born and that now can’t be got rid of any time soon . Think political limbo for a generation at least ;(

  • Greenflag

    Horseman’s numbers again for those with heads in the sand .

  • Michael,
    Maybe fair but I do think that zero tolerance of antisocial behaviour in the sense of attacks on property and other people needs to be adopted by the police and politicians and indeed community representatives of all sides. In middle and upper working class areas this sort of nonsense would result in significant police action. The fact that it does not results in the many of the problems.

    I am not trying to sound ultra right wing but stopping low level crime seems to be a way of stopping downward spirals.

  • White Horse


    Now that Brazil have beaten Chile, I’m free to enter into discussion with you concerning the Fountain.

    Clearly the fountain has been maintained over the years from when the City Council was unionist in order to preserve the route destination for parades. It is the same old sick unionism that desires to parade down Garvaghy road and insists in raping the city of Derry on several occasionms every year.

    Is there a pill they could take or something?

  • aquifer

    It seems that the cops cannot lift a young person and return them to their parents. An old cop told me that this used to be a useful exercise. A bunch of young hoods gave him brain damage, don’t know what he would say now.

    Hate to sound harsh but give free abortions. Better than parents who fall out of love with their kids before they even reach school.

    Around here the selective breeding seems to be for alchoholic hometown thugs with a work allergy.

  • Michael

    I don’t think it makes you sound right wing at all Turgon, sadly there does seem to be an ‘acceptable level’ of violence in areas like the fountain/bishop street interfaces.

    In my younger days I was good friends with a lad from the fountain, a mutual love of skateboarding, indie music and recreational drugs put all the rest of the nonsense to the back burner.
    He did personify alot of young protestant lads with half a brain from the fountain. He went to uni in glasgow, moved to the lake district and never came back.
    Occasionally, when I drive to the ‘Derry’ half of the city to visit relatives I pass his younger brother (in his 30’s now) standing at wapping street, just off the craigavon bridge with a group of mates jeering at the lads from bishop street.

  • Greenflag

    If we (the Irish) ever hope to achieve a united Ireland, these are the votes we must win.

    In theory it shouldnt be that hard, after all what have these people got? But all we seem to do is make it worse.

  • TheHorse

    FFS catch yourself on, it is a fact that young people from what some people on here call sink estates are conditioned by other older sinister elements among them fire and brimstone politicians to hate. As for being unemployed look around you, people from areas like that do not get job opportunities that residents from another postcode would get, you’d wonder why that was, maybe people stigmatise them with inherited opinions of their worth to society.

  • Munsterview


    I will pass on direct comment on this particular situation as I simply do not know the current details.

    However I do have this pertinent observation : this situation is not just Nationalists V Unionists, Catholics V Protestants, as it can be found replicated in almost ever major Urban centre in the South. All of these places have interface areas, on one side are the wrecked or burned out cars, homes uncared for, abandoned houses used for cider parties, sexual encounters by teens who are out of control etc

    Just a street away can be found nicely painted homes, front gardens, cared for green spaces , etc., where the young social morons who having wrecked their own areas, now congregate in the edge of the good area with cider parties etc into the small hours of the morning. If decent law abiding senior citizens complain and get the Police out then their windows are stoned and all complained of in Derry is common place.

    I am not for one moment excusing the behavior of teenagers who wreck their own community, in the North or elsewhere, I am merely suggesting that it is part of a wider social problem in the poorer estates that can be found any where in these Islands. The Taig/Prod ….. Orange/Green is just a convenient peg to hang these anti social activities on!

  • Cushy Glenn

    remember that the Fountain is all that’s left of Unionism on the west bank, because the other Prods moved out through intimidation, or redevelopment or unemployment or whatever. Who now remembers the bonfires on Dark Lane, the Rosemount band – and its own band hall, the Orange hall at Burt ?( because it’s the rural Prods that disappeared too- though still just keeping Bellougry primary school open.

    And of course the dumb thing for nationalists in Londonderry is that their best bet for tourism is to pugnaciously defend and support “themmuns”. Imagine if there were still a Jewish presence in the city- there was once a synagogue in the Fountain, which became Unionist paqrty HQ- what steps would the Council not go to preserve it, hype it, support it? And the Jews were only in the city for about seventy years ( there’s one left of the community) Look at how Belfast Jewish community is promoted- or Dublin’s ( we’ll not mention Limerick…)

    Theme park “Prods in their natural environment” isn’t a very nice idea if you’re on the receiving end perhaps, and more than a bit condescending but it’s better than the present Fountain existence, and it would be a positive gesture to the wider Unionist community. if handled sensitively

    Of course we could go down the road of Prague, which has a lovely Jewish quarter bunged full of tourists, but is rather light on yer actual Jews for some reason….

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Excellent article by the cousin.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Has there been any attempt at cross community action (e.g. neighbourhood watch) or a show of solidarity by the 2 communities?

    If SF want to reach out to Unionists they dont have very far to reach from Martina Anderson’s own yard.


    as someone with very strong views towads SF do you think that Fountain residents, who might share your views, should be prepared to cooperate with SF or organisations ‘fronted’ by SF to improve life for Fountain residents?

  • Brian Walker

    Sammy and others..

    Looking at the Fountain symbolically and politically, or Short Strand for that matter – no surrender is the natural response. (btw The Fountain looks a whole lot worse these days). The high symbolism of the Fountain adds to the problem. With its modern high walls, turret and tradition, the Fountain can be seen as a a target though not of course a provocation.

    Pulling out altogether can be seen as a defeat of immense significance – although there are plenty of precedents since 1969. What sort of peace is that?

    I don’t know what comprises a sustainable community. Are 500 families enough?

    PullIing down the high walls is an interesting lateral thought much considered for elsewhere as part of an integrated approach, though hardly a unilateral one.

    I’m not up to speed on this, but I sense that few attempts at improving the situation are cross community based. There’s plenty of shouting in the council to little effect as far as I can see. As somebody said above, this has to be tackled by the grass roots on both sides and the police. The dissidents surge probably doesn’t help.

    I’d love to see a real up to date grass roots analysis and prescription for the Fountain and other “ghettos”

    Cushy Glen, you know your old Derry. There’s a great photo of a Jewish wedding in Kennedy Place in the anthology In Sunshine or in Shadow. The synagogue had gone by my time – but I have been among the crowds visiting the synagogue in Prague.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    it would be good to see Short Strand and Fountain residents getting together to suggest a solution. What are the populations of each do you know?

    Has the population of the short strand also been in steady decline?

  • Looking through the Window

    Good comments from Munsterview.
    Gang problems can be seen in all urban areas really. In this case the gangs are focused around ethno-religious affiliation. In the UK or the ROI the same situations would likely be occurring based on postcode, school attended, or perhaps the colour of your skin.

    Still its an awful situation and I think we can all agree that a calming of tensions and reduction in the number of incidents would be very welcome.

  • Looking through the Window


  • Greenflag

    ‘In theory it shouldnt be that hard, after all what have these people got?’

    Oddly enough in matters like these it’s the people who have nothing who have most to lose .or believe they have or are persuaded that they will lose what little they have 🙁

    The working class Catholics of Belfast got it in the neck economically and politically from the Unionist majority much more so than middle class Catholics . Professional class Southern unionist protestants suffered a lot less ‘economically and politically than Dublin’s working class protestants in the aftermath of the birth of the Free State .

    The people who have nothing or very little end up losing their lives for symbols which in most cases have little real bearing on their lives . But this is not just an Norn iron phenomenom . It’s worldwide and has existed in almost all countries since states were formed .

    ‘But all we seem to do is make it worse.’

    Who is the ‘we ‘ ? The parents of the thugs ? the thugs themselves -the police for not taking action ?

    Never overestimate the intelligence of a sectarian mob on either side .They have not reached the age of enlightenment and never will in most cases 🙁

  • Alan N/ARDS

    Yesterdays Newsletter article had a quote from a SDLP councillor called Sean Carr. He claimed that the violence “is not as bad as some people are making it out to be”. He also claimed “there had been an attidude of poor me in the Fountain area”. Does he speak for his party or is he a lone wolf. As one who has only been there once in my life, I have know idea what the situation is really like apart from what I have read in the Newsletter and other papers. To be honest I would hate to live in such circumstances whether it was the Fountain, Oldpark or the Village.

  • Munsterview

    Having read the contributions so far, I now return to my earlier point that while there are certain unique aspects to the Fountain area and the anti social problems there, the general patterns of behavior can be found in what are often referred to as ‘sink hole estates’ through out these Islands.

    Limerick also has the same problem, only worse!

    The only remedy for Limerick is to knock down the existing estates, not because the existing housing is beyond renovation, but because legally it is the only way that the authorities can clear out the ingrained culture of anti-social attitudes, crime and drug culture.

    The elephant in the room that nobody will spell out in stark terms in regard to Limerick is that the leading criminal gang culture is also in the main, Settled Traveller based !

    This Traveller culture, based on extended families was already apart from settled culture, there was already a ‘ them and us’ attitude and even though more socially deprived, the average member of this culture thought themselves superior to ‘Buffs’ and normal working class surrounding society.

    Anything farmilar about this ?

    Limerick is not the only such problem ‘no go area’. Tralee have regular incidents involving full scale riots and days of estate battles involving hundreds of special unit gardai in full riot gear before the authorities could restore order. The latest of these was only some months back.

    Limerick is of particular interest as any number of studies have been done on the social and economic problems of the area. The rejuvenation and renewal solutions have been designed in view of these studies and findings.

    Limerick’s solution will involve the resettlement of thousands of families; in the Fountain area only around five hundred families are involved. There is a simple solution !

    Cork was faced with a problem in regard to 19 cent. red brick sub standard housing in the Blackpool areas twenty five years ago, they wanted to preserve the character of the area but the houses were not fit for human habitation by modern standards.

    The Corporation first renovated derelict houses in the streets, then moved in neighboring families while their own houses were renovated and upgraded. There was no great trauma of upheaval, the families stayed in their own areas, often just two or three doors away and the community association was involved in every stage of the operation.

    The outcome far exceeded expectations on all sides and all involved were delighted with the project. Not surpassingly the project won several heritage awards and can serve as a useful blueprint on how these things should be done.

    The Fountain is a unique area : finances may be limited or non existent in the current financial circumstances; the much vaunted Peace Dividend for many Northern areas has meant an absence of war and little else. In certain peace lines interfaces and areas like the Fountain communities are constantly coping with the aftermath of the last riots of bracing for the next one.

    Where for them is the dividend, community turmoil is ongoing, in these circumstances people cannot have security even in their own homes?

    And before somebody points out the obvious, yes I have Catholic friends in Armagh and in Belfast where the very same conditions apply; they too are under siege in their own homes!

    These cycles have to be broken somewhere : we now have thousands of builders workers unemployed in the South with no immediate prospect of a job; hundreds of these have worked in voluntary house building schemes in South African, they have experience in working with ghetto young people and organizing local labour.

    There are only around five hundred houses involved : is it beyond the realms of possibility that a community scheme be funded by all the Governments of these Islands as a one off to renew this housing stock and also train a number of teenagers from both communities in useful and marketable building skills? I know that many of the building workers in the South with South African experience would gladly volunteer their services and expertise for such a project.

    Just like the Blackpool rejuvenation project, the community could stay in its own area while the housing upgrade in ongoing. Such an upgrade could also be done with a view to providing more specialized shops and arts outlets etc. allowing for economic rejuvenation also.

    The Bloody Sunday inquiry closed the book on much of the past for Derry Nationalists; if a project such as I advocated rejuvenated the Fountain area it would give an immediate Peace Dividend to alienated and neglected working class Unionists and also serve as a template for other such areas. In relative terms it is also has the merit of being a cost effective, necessary and an affordable project!

    Is there anyone in the Unionist or indeed both Traditions to show Leadership for such a project ?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    that sounds like a good idea – but it would need money (to transport, feed and house them) and an organisation in place to dish it out and fit the pieces together.

    …and talking of buachaillí from the South coming up to Derry and specifically the Fountain – there was a case a few years back where some yobos went to see Derry City – I think they were Bohs ( or the like) supporters and having gone on the pop in the city centre they decided to share some Provo ditties with the Fountain folk.

    Excellent example of how cross border interaction Not .

  • White Horse


    I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. The Fountain is not a problem estate in the midst of a settled area. There is no great problem with the Fountain.

    It’s just that it’s residents live in a Fortress that has to be maintained by the state because they kick with the wrong foot. The state maintains them because they kick with the wrong foot and it preserves the destination beside the city walls for the loyal orders marching.

    The walls have to come down some time and normality has to return and then Derry can have more peaceful relations between its neighbouring communities.

  • Munsterview


    it is a few years since I last had a walk around there; perhaps the housing stock is better inside than out. It was my impression that the whole place could do with a face lift !

    ‘ Turk, Jew and Atheist may enter here but not a Papist’ : this legend from a wall plaque by the gates of Bandon shows that Derry was not unique on this Island, attitudes cannot be changed overnight!

    It was….

    Provo ditties are part of Working Class popular culture in the South and there may not be too fine appreciation of Northern sensibilities with a few drinks in, no more than there would if a Dub supporters group were in Cork or Limerick!

    If there was such a project as I suggested, it would be as much about changing attitudes as living conditions.

  • oneill

    Munsterview and Sammy Etc

    IThe attack went a bit beyond a few spotty, boozed-up, inadequates picking probably the only “hun-infested” pub left in the cityside to shout”Up the Ra”:

    A nice cross-border interaction did follow though when a group of Bohs fans from higher up the evolutionary ladder organised a collection for the bar-owner in question.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Yeah that was the one – they were obvioulsy well briefed for their trip but as you say it was nice to see that proper fans tried to make amends.

    It would also be nice to see Nationalism having a proper response to the beleagured community in the Fountain rather than trying to minimise the issue.

  • Michael

    “It would also be nice to see Nationalism having a proper response to the beleagured community in the Fountain rather than trying to minimise the issue.”

    Sorry, but it’s a two way street in the fountain/bishop street area. If there’s going to be any progress both sides need to face up to their responsibilities.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    If its case of everyone sitting on their hands waiting on everyone else then Nationliasm as the far stronger party here should make a point of making the first move and making it in a way that is as concillatroy as possible.

    It should be made absolutely clear that is a matter of importance to Nationalism that the Fountain remains as a functioning Unionist/Prod community on the City side.

  • Michael

    “If its case of everyone sitting on their hands waiting on everyone else then Nationliasm as the far stronger party here should make a point of making the first move and making it in a way that is as concillatroy as possible.”

    What would be the first move?
    Something like funding week long apprentice boy festivals?

  • Munsterview

    “…….. they were obviously well briefed for their trip …..”

    I had some forgotten the incident before reading up on the accounts. However I do now recall team members, the fan club, the FAI and all concerned roundly condemning the event down here.

    As to they being ‘ well briefed ‘ they seem exactly the same ‘ pain in the arse ‘ hangers ons that plagued Sinn Fein demos, the type that could start a riot in an empty field and were useless and not to be found when it came to something constructive like putting up a few posters !

    However this do not detract from the proposal; I think that such a project especially if undertaken with goodwill and co-operation could produce dividends. As to the Southern input, all of these construction workers involved in the South African Housing Projects not alone paid their own way, they also organized sponsorship in their own communities that resulted in many contributing significant monies to the cost of a home.

    While there is not the same spare cash in communities in the South as before, the goodwill is still and Derry is one such place where such a scheme could have far reaching consequences. I think that such a project could be done on a tight budget and would represent good value for money in any funding put up by both Governments.

    It would also be a practical demonstration to working class Loyalism that there is life outside the Ghettoes and as I have said, offer a template for other such projects !

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Perhaps there has already been a first move?

    ..but assuming not, first move (whilst something more longterm like Munsterview is suggesting) would be for Nationalists to suggest they police ‘their’ side of the fence (in liaison with the PSNI) and to be in 2 way communication with the other side of the fence if there are any incidents.

    Parading issue as usual have to be dealt with a seperate issue – not a stumblick block to agreeing on making progress for the rest of the year.

  • martin

    ach i wouldnt read too much into it –FreeState B*****ds cant be let out anywhere without causing trouble

  • Munsterview

    You may indeed be perfect correct in your assumptions ! However you should appreciate that the Orange Order from the Battle Of The Boyne on did play a big part in Southern Irish Society.

    While most of this culture is now History, unfortunately the public troublemaking parts of it are still active and nobody it seems can be arsed with getting rid of it.

    When we do get a United Ireland I think that there should be a Drumcree Weekend where our kind of these people down here and yours up there could meet in a big field and indulge themselves collectively in a ‘last man standing’ type of show with a field hospital laid on.

    It could be quite a spectacle and the arising injuries would ensure the rest of us have a quite life for most of the year!

  • martin

    Indeed,but why field hospitals ,why not let things take their natural course.

    BTW on that Limerick regeneration thing–seen Cowan got booed again.

    but anyway i have read that during the refurbishment of the ghetto areas they are moving these people to the ok areas and destroying them too–wheres the logic,at least if the trouble was left inside the ghettos it might be contained or even exter….oh no thats not very PC is it

  • Cushy Glenn

    Re Bandon- I like the reply to that infamous sign from ( I think) Swift-“whoever wrote this wrote it well; t’was also written on the gates of Hell”

    Incidentally, it was Bandon which first coined the phrase “no surrender” or “ne cede” (which is latin, and not Ulster Scots for impotent by the way”) as its civic motto.
    Unfortunately they did then rather surrender when confronted with besiegers who were unimpressed by bombast