Unionist fears of ‘bad old days’ in Londonderry

St Columb's Park in the Waterside.
St Columb's Park in the Waterside.

Unionists in the Waterside area of Londonderry fear a return to the “bad old days” when they felt unable to move around the city freely, Derry City and Strabane District Council has heard.

DUP councillor David Ramsey spoke about ongoing problems with anti-social behaviour at St Columb’s Park – a public green space in the Waterside, on the east of the River Foyle.

It is close to the Peace Bridge linking the east and west banks of the river.

During a debate at the full monthly meeting of the council, which took place on Thursday, he said that large groups of young people are coming from the nationalist Cityside of Londonderry, with alcohol, into St Columb’s Park and this has led to sectarian attacks taking place.

As an example, he told his fellow councillors how a “sectarian mob” of as many as 60 people had ventured into the residential unionist-dominated area of Bond Street on Tuesday night.

“Since the Peace Bridge has been built, it has not brought peace to St Columb’s Park. It has brought mayhem.

“Major crowds coming across with loads of alcohol – now carrying it in backpacks so the police, unless they stop and search, can’t do anything about it.

“There’s hundreds of them, you can’t do anything about it. It’s nearly impossible with by-laws or whatever you have – there’s too many people.”

He continued: “I believe what’s happening in the park is being used by a more sinister element. We don’t want to go back to the bad old days.

“There are sectarian mobs entering Bond Street and Clooney to attack homes and people.

“On Tuesday night, there was about two or three hundred in the park and a mob, of what I was told was 30 but the police have confirmed through CCTV was 60, went into Bond Street and they battered rings round them.”

He added: “What Waterside people feel is happening, is what used to happen years ago when the PUL [Protestant-unionist-loyalist] community felt they couldn’t go into the city with their school uniform on.”

Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said: “There should be no ‘no go areas’ within our council area.”