Besieged Bond’s Street residents are growing increasingly receptive to the notion of a Peace Bridge curfew to protect them from marauding gangs of drunken youths every time the sun comes out in Londonderry, according to Waterside DUP Alderman David Ramsey.
Less than two months after a “sectarian rampage” terrified residents during one of the May Bank Holidays, it’s happened again.
Mr Ramsey says local residents have told him “enough is enough” after twenty or thirty drunken young people spilled out of St Columb’s Park and the Ebrington Parade Ground area on Monday evening, July 18, throwing bricks and bottles and hurling sectarian abuse in Bond’s Street.
“People are fed up with this every time there’s a bit of good weather,” said Mr Ramsey. “The park was left in a total mess and local people are afraid to use it.
“It’s getting to the stage that the Peace Bridge is becoming an expensive interface.”
The DUP Alderman said local people are getting to the end of their tether and have told him they are considering requesting the drastic step of the iconic Peace Bridge being closed to through traffic from 9pm during unusually good weather, which often seems to herald disorder.
“Enough is enough. Residents are saying to me that maybe it’s time to look at closing the Peace Bridge at 9pm. That’s the last thing we want but if this continues with droves of people coming across the bridge, drinking and creating havoc, people are that fed up they’re going to be down protesting at the bridge,” said Mr Ramsey.
Police confirmed that they received reports of a number of young people throwing stones at each other and passing cars in the Ebrington area around 10.25pm on Monday, July 18.
A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police responded and the young people dispersed.
“There were no reports of damage caused to any vehicles at the time and no arrests were made.
“Police enquiries into the incident are continuing.”
Alderman Ramsey said he is aware the PSNI and community wardens simply don’t have the resources to deal with the huge influx of teenagers during holiday periods.
“I know that previously they drafted police officers in from Limavady and Coleraine but the PSNI can’t be expected to do that every time there’s a
bit of good weather,” said the local DUP man.
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said they are aware of the ongoing issue of antisocial behaviour at the park, particularly during spells of good weather.
The spokesperson said: “The rubbish has now been cleared from the area and the Park Rangers will continue to monitor the situation over the coming days, with patrols also being stepped up in the area by our Community Safety Wardens.
“Anti-social behaviour remains an issue for the PSNI who have indicated that they will be stepping up their monitoring of the area, and we would encourage people to report any incidents directly to the police. In recent weeks a special meeting was held involving community representatives and a range of statutory agencies including the police to consider solutions to the problem.
“Council will continue to work with these agencies in finding ways to effectively tackle the issue, and maintain the park as a shared green space for local children and families to enjoy.
“Council welcomes feedback from park users, and anyone with any concerns relating to the park is asked to report these directly to Council’s Park Management Team on 71 253253.”