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New owner keen to develop controversial Derry bonfire site

This year's August 15 bonfire was built on a derelict site at Meenan Square in Derry's Bogside. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

DERELICT land that was used as a site for controversial bonfires in Derry could be developed as a commercial, community and social housing centre, it has emerged.

There was widespread condemnation last month when the names of murdered police officers Ronan Kerr, Stephen Carroll, David Black and prison officer Adrian Ismay were burned on an August 15 bonfire at the site at Meenan Square in the Bogside.

In the days leading up to the bonfire, youths used the land and a derelict building on it to store material. The area has been the location of a number of controversial bonfires in the past.

In a plan overseen by the Executive Office, it was hoped the site could be developed through an Urban Villages initiative. The initiative is designed to bring areas with a history of community tension back into public use.

Fears later emerged that the plans would be dropped after it emerged that a new private owner has purchased the site.

However, SDLP assembly member Mark H Durkan said he was confident the Meenan Square land would be returned to productive public use after meeting the new owner.

Mr Durkan said the owner was keen to work with stakeholders to develop the site for social housing, commercial and community benefit.

“This has been an eyesore and a headache in the Bogside for a long time. I welcome the assurances of the new owner that he will work to maximise the benefit of the site for the local community and the city has a whole.

“By returning the site to proper use, it is less likely to attract the anti-social behaviour of the past,” Mr Durkan said.

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