Bonfire at Bogside, Londonderry: Talks break down

Image source, Press Eye
Image caption,
The bonfire, which reached 20ft (6m) in height, was built in the middle of a main road in Derry last year

A controversial bonfire in Londonderry is likely to go ahead next week despite efforts to offer an alternative, a community worker has said.

On Wednesday, talks to try to prevent a repeat of problems associated with last year's bonfire broke down.

The bottom of the Lecky Road flyover in the Bogside was partially blocked last August by a 20ft (6m) high bonfire.

It is understood youths want to burn flags on this year's bonfire.

Both Sinn Féin and DUP election posters were placed on last year's bonfire and there was a security alert in the area after it was lit.

'End of the line'

Bonfires are traditionally lit on 15 August in some nationalist areas to mark the Feast of the Assumption.

In recent years, efforts have been made to replace the bonfire with family fun days and live music.

Talks between members of the public, local politicians in Derry and community representatives failed to reach a solution ahead of Tuesday's planned bonfire.

Donnacha McNelis, from Dove House community centre, said he is disappointed.

"There was a massive engagement with young people in the area," said Mr McNelis.

"We are not at the ideal place that we need to be. We will continue to work at it till we get there.

"I doubt that we will reach a solution on time for next Tuesday. We have come to the end of the line."

He added: "I have no authority to make sure young people don't put the bonfire in the middle of a road. In terms of flags, we have suggested that we have a positive display of flags.

Image source, Press Eye
Image caption,
Nationalist politicians criticised the bonfire last year, which was bedecked in union flags and Sinn Féin election posters

"The young people feel it happens in loyalist areas so that it should happen in theirs."

SDLP councillor John Boyle said an alternative suggestion had been offered at Wednesday's meeting.

"One of the alternatives was to have a more controlled bonfire in the nearby Gasyard site," he said.

"It was be marshalled, there would be no alcohol and it would be away from houses and residents. That seemed like a good compromise.

"However, talks have broken down. It seems that young people have a desire to burn flags. It's unbelievable that young people would want to burn anyone's national flag.

"We are talking about 14-year-old teenagers and up here. I suspect that some adults might be a controlling influence here too."

Image source, Press Eye
Image caption,
A council operation to clean up the burnt debris began the next day

Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue said: "This has been a long process where consultation has been happening with a wide range of focus groups.

"There was a proposal to have a bonfire in the Gasyard and there would be music and food stalls.

"This is being accommodated but the same young people who asked for this are now saying they want to burn flags."

Image caption,
People have been gathering pallets and tyres below the Lecky flyover over the past couple of months

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