Hands off our Peace Walls: Fountain residents

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Residents in the Fountain would feel vulnerable to attack if the peace walls at Bishop Street were taken down.

Their feelings were made clear by a new study into interface areas in Londonderry, which were revealed at a Peace Walls conference in St Columb’s Park House this week.

Peace Walls across Northern Ireland are all to be removed by 2024, but local community worker Jeanette Warke, who has worked at the Fountain for over four decades, said residents in the Fountain were not confident with the idea of the interface wall with Bishop Street being removed because of the history of attacks on the area.

She appealed to the decision-makers to conduct extensive door-to-door consultation with every resident in the Fountain and Bishop Street before making any formal decision.

“Nothing can happen to that wall unless the community is fully involved in the decision-making process,” she said.

“People need to accept the fact that the Fountain is a small Protestant community and people have to respect how the residents feel.

“Look how long I have been working with this community: It’s 43 years and I would hope I know how people feel, and no, they are not confident with the idea of the wall being taken down.

“Everything we do here is for the benefit of the community and the young people in particular.

“We run this centre so that the young people feel safe when they come in here.

“The decision makers are isolated from the reality of life here and the idea of taking the wall down is not the way forward.

“We have been doing lots of cross-community work here and the correct way forward is by taking small steps and building confidence within the community.”