Fountain residents tell Bradley: We want ‘peace wall’ strengthened

Karen Bradley (right) in the Fountain Estate in Londonderry
Karen Bradley (right) in the Fountain Estate in Londonderry

Residents of the Loyalist Fountain estate in Londonderry have told the Northern Ireland secretary they would like to see a ‘peace wall’ strengthened, following recent attacks on the estate.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley visited Londonderry on Monday, where she met with the PSNI at their Strand Road station, before travelling to areas such as the Bogside and the Fountain to meet with residents affected by disorder earlier this month.

“I have been able to meet those who were directly affected by recent disorder in the city and to hear how it impacted the local community,” she said afterwards.

“In particular, I want to pay tribute to local PSNI officers for their efforts in dealing with what was a challenging week of unrest, as well as thanking others in the community who worked hard to prevent further disturbances.”

DUP MP Gregory Campbell, who accompanied the Conservative MP during her visit to the Fountain, said: “We had been pressing since the attacks to get her over to ensure she met and heard about the attacks first hand, and not just from political or community representatives but from the people who had actually been attacked.

“And also to see the peace walls between the Fountain and Bishop Street, which the residents are saying should be strengthened after the attacks, particularly the week-long period of attacks.”

Mr Campbell added: “She has spoken to some of the residents and we took her around and onto the Walls (the historic city walls which overlook the Fountain Estate).

“She has now seen the fencing and she is aware of the concerns that residents have – not only the residents of the Fountain because she met with residents of the Bogside as well.”

Mrs Bradley also met local political, business and community stakeholders at the city’s Guildhall to discuss the next steps in progressing a bid for a ‘City Deal’ for Londonderry.

City Deals are an initiative introduced under the previous coalition government, whereby cities are given certain powers to make economic decisions at a local level.

Mrs Bradley said: “Numerous local partners have already put a huge amount of effort into progressing a City Deal bid, especially Derry City and Strabane District Council who have been at the forefront in developing the basis for a City Deal proposition.

“Today was a useful opportunity to hear some more detail around the current proposition and how local stakeholders believe it will contribute to the delivery of the economic transformation that is needed in the region.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, councillor John Boyle, said: “At its (the bid) core is the expansion of Ulster University in high growth and high impact innovation areas, which will have economic benefits.”